Stylized playing; everyone wants it, but not everyone knows how to obtain it. One of the easiest ways to give your playing a new flair that will make other musicians take note is by accenting on the off-beat.
So what is an off-beat? When you play a song, there is almost always a pattern to the way you accent, whether that pattern is with cymbal work, or with the snare. Regular patterns accent on what is called the ‘on-beat.’
If you were to play a song in 4/4, using only four quarter notes, the on-beat would be on beats one and three, and the off-beat would be on beats two and four.
There are, of course, on-beats and off-beats in every time signature, but for now we are going to focus exclusively on 4/4 as this is the standard timing that most drummers are used to. When you accent on the off-beat, it gives your playing a different, more unique feel. It also lends itself healthily to experimentation.
Using the information we have gathered about off-beat patterns, get your metronome and try one out for yourself. This simple pattern, made using Guitar Pro 6, uses high hat off-beat rhythms.
As you will see for yourself in this drumming lesson, your first foray into off-beat accents may be a little difficult. Drummers are primarily taught to follow a groove, and this can make learning off-beat patterns take a bit more time, as off-beat patterns tend to follow a stranger course. While they do have their own groove, off-beat patterns, to some, may seem odd and unpleasant.
Notice that this simple pattern uses only the high hat and the bass drum. This will help you to establish off-beat coordination between your legs and arms. This is usually the hardest part of learning off beat patterns, as when using both of your hands the groove seems to just flow in reverse.
Once you have mastered the first example we can move on to a bit more difficult version of the off-beat high hat rhythm. This example involves the use of double bass and the snare, utilizing both of your hands and one to two of your legs (depending on how you want to play it).
I do suggest running through the piece at least once using all four limbs, as this will increase the difficulty greatly and help you to gain better awareness of your limbs as well. With better awareness, you increase both accuracy and fluidity, not to mention dexterity as well.
When playing this example, be sure to strike the snare, the high hat, and the bass drum on the off-beat at the same exact time. On the on-beat, be sure that your snare and bass kick are timed as well. Observe your playing, and allow yourself to relax if you get tense. If you learn tenseness during practice, it will become a playing habit. This can lead to playing related injuries down the road.
When you are able to play these to examples without error or hesitation, try implementing the off-beat into your own playing. If you have some favorite grooves you jam out on a steady basis, try accenting them on the off-beat. This will help you accent the off-beat later one when you are improvising.
For now, keep playing, and don’t stop challenging yourself
Would you like to learn drums while having fun with play-along songs at the same time? At Drumeo, you can access a massive library of lessons and get 2 brand new songs to jam along every month. This will help you apply your new found skills in practical scenarios!