Rates & 16th Note Variations

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.

 

16th Note Hi-Hat Variations Loop

Here’s a cool exercise one of my teachers shared with me, a long time ago:

  • You play 14 different 16th note variations on the hi-hat, one per measure, while keeping a continually repeated pattern (ostinato) on the bass drum and snare.
  • The bass drum syncopation includes a note on the “a” and “&” of the beat one and two, which makes it more challenging, coordination wise.
  • If you struggle with the independence between bass drum and hi-hat, try to play the variations over a four on the floor beat (quarter notes on the bass drum) first, and work your way up from there.
  • Focus on clarity, consistency, and groove. Make sure all the notes land in the right place.
  • Practice to an 8th or 16th note metronome, to identify where there’s a tendency to push or drag.
  • Practice each measure individually before putting them all together in a loop.

For a lot of people this is a hard exercise — it definitely is for me.

Its benefits are many: improved timing, coordination, and being able to stay in the pocket while transitioning between different variations, are just a few that come to mind spontaneously.

Remember: Slow, steady, and relaxed wins the race!

 

16th Note HH Var Loop.jpg

16th Note Hi-Hat Variations in a drum beat

Here’s something I like to practice:

I’m improvising grooves while working my way through different 16th note variations on the hi-hat. I’ve found this to be a great way to come up with new ideas, strengthen my coordination, and improve my timing on the drums. Too often we drummers forget about the endless possibilities seemingly simple rhythms can offer, especially when applied in a creative, groove oriented way. Have fun! – bex out!