Rates & 16th Note Variations

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As a drum teacher I’ve noticed that one of the most difficult things for beginner drummers is to switch rates, e.g., to go from triplets to 16th notes, and moving between different 16th note variations.

This short exercise is designed so you can play along with me (or the click only), get comfortable with counting, and develop confidence in switching beats while keeping the tempo.

Try to keep a steady quarter note pulse on the bass drum during the exercise.

If you’re wondering about the sticking of some of the variations, you can find them in my PDF Kick Start.

– Beck

Ps.: I posted both play-alongs in the educational section on my website.

 

The Loop

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Often, the most simple exercises prove to be the most effective.

I call this one “The Loop.”

Here’s the sequence:

  • 2 measures of 8th notes
  • 2 measures of 8th note triplets
  • 2 measures of 16th notes
  • 2 measures of 8th note triplets

It will improve your timing and transitions between the rates.

Practice it with a metronome.

Play it at 60 bpm, or even slower, and really try to feel the  s p a c e  between the individual notes.

Don’t let the simplicity fool you. Playing it slow is surprisingly hard.

As with almost all exercises and drills, I urge you to focus on clarity, relaxation and control — not on speed. Your speed will increase automatically,  once you can play this exercise relaxed, and feel more confident about changing between the rates.

Treat it like a meditation: make time for it, if only 10 minutes a day and allow it to become a habit. You don’t even need a drum kit or practice pad for it. Just play with your hands on your thighs and tap your right foot. Drop your shoulders, focus on your breath, and if you use drum sticks, relax your grip as much as possible without sacrificing stick control.

Note: In the video I play a quarter note Bass Drum, but you can also “march” to the beat and play the Kick on 1&3, and step the Hi-Hat on 2&4.

 

 

 

Drumming Videos

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Here are two simple, yet cool triplet combos: ||:Left Right Kick:|| (Gadd is a master at this!) and then something I’ve heard Bonham do a lot: ||:Left Right Kick | Right Left Kick:||


In this songo improv I play open handed, aka left hand lead (I’m not crossing my sticks), which allows me to get around the kit more easily.


Here’s an Elvin Jones inspired afro-cuban pattern. It has a 6/4 kind of feel, and the hi-hat splashes and tom accents make it challenging to keep balance. I’ll try to follow up with a transcription, soon.


I recently came up with this cool beat:

8th note heel/toe hi-hat splashes over a polyrhythmic double stroke bass drum pattern. 1&A cymbal pattern + snare drum on 2&4.


 

Jazzy Snare-Tom Combo

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Been listening to a lot of Hard Bop lately. Here’s a triplet-based lick that’s fun to play and gets you around the kit. Might have heard it from #BillyHiggins or #MaxRoach, not sure.