The Seven Basic Beats
By learning and combining these basic drum beats, you can play thousands of songs. This is an excellent starting point if you are a new drummer who enjoys learning the fundamentals in the context of popular music.
Videos and Audio Tracks
Beat Composition and Transcription Worksheets
Use these worksheets to compose your own beat combinations, or transcribe beats you hear in songs. Start with the work sheets that include the snare drum. Any combination of bass drum beats you add will always work and sound good as long as the snare is on beats two and four.
- 8th Note Beat Worksheet with Snare
- 8th Note Beat Worksheet
- 16th Note Beat Worksheet with Snare
- 16th Note Beat Worksheet
- 4th Note Beat Worksheet with Snare
- 4th Note Beat Worksheet
After you’ve learned the basic beats, practice playing with bass lines, and explore combinations. I highly recommend recording yourself playing with a bass line and listening back. This will give you the opportunity to reflect on your playing and hear from another perspective. Ask yourself—is my timing even and consistent? Are the drums hitting exactly with the hi-hat when they should? Are the drums in the right dynamic (loud/soft) balance? Is the hi-hat too loud because my right hand is strong, while the snare drum is quiet? Can I make every measure sound the same when I try to? At first, it is hard to think of all these things while you are playing.
Listening is a musician’s most critical ability. Listen to your favorite music and ask questions. Direct your ears to the different instruments in the band as you would if you were watching them on stage. Listen to how they blend and how the parts fit together. Can you hear the bassist? Why is the drummer playing the parts he or she is playing? Is the drummer louder or softer than the singer?
When you feel solid with basic beats and combinations, challenge yourself with these timing exercises. If you master these, you will have mastered the single most important aspect of your playing—keeping a solid beat in time. After you are solid with basic beats, you are ready to start learning to play fills.
The Paradiddle Beat – 16th Note Independence
The Paradiddle Beat is the next step after mastering the Seven Basic Beats. Here you will learn how to play between hi-hat hits. This is a concentrated coordination exercise that will enable you to recognize and play more advanced rock, funk and pop beats.
This is a standard application of The Single Paradiddle. The Single Paradiddle is a drum rudiment with the sticking RLRR LRLL (R=right, L=left). This series gradually builds up to the bass drum playing the right hand part while the snare drum plays the left. The hi-hat maintains eighth notes throughout.
Video and Audio Tracks
- Paradiddle Beat – Step One
- Paradiddle Beat – Step Two
- Paradiddle Beat – Step Three
- Paradiddle Beat – Step Four
- Paradiddle Beat – Step Five
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