Basic Syncopated Grouping Patterns For Good Dynamics

integrated playingMost of the patterns and beats that beginner drummers are introduced to at first are driven by a constant pulsation of the hi-hat. In these beats, the other played parts of the drum kit – usually the snare drum and the bass drum – are synchronized to the hi-hat strokes.

Such a straightforward beat can very often be played with wonderful dynamics and it can rule the entire piece of music through its simplicity. However – let us face it – there are situations when you need to spice up your playing so that it will match the music of your colleagues better. Syncopation can help you in that manner.

Syncopation can be basically achieved through the addition of unexpected, off-beat strokes to a beat, giving it a slightly unordered groove. Composing such beats is easier than you would ever expect – let us take a look at how it should be done!

The Most Basic Kind of Example for The Pattern

When you are about to learn something new on your instrument, the first step you should take is to break the new material into small pieces, into building blocks. The easiest way to do that is to add off-beat sixteenth notes played on the bass drum or the snare drum between the standard eighth-note throbbing of the hi-hat.

In the example below I have noted some of the simplest possible syncopated patterns. In the first two bars you can see four examples where only one off-beat is added to a group of a quarter length, whereas in the last two bars you can four examples of how two eighth-notes can be replaced with four sixteenths in a dynamic, interesting way.

The most basic syncopated patterns

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Embedding Simple Syncopated Patterns in Drum Beats

In the example below we show how incorporating one or more of the patterns presented above can bring some interesting vibe to your beats. The first line shows how two syncopated building blocks can turn a standard rock beat into a rather interesting groovy beat that goes nicely with funk music when played with clever dynamics. You might want to play the off-beat snare strokes from the second measure as ghost notes in order to create a really smooth groove.

The second line shows a rather complex example of syncopation. It is interesting to note how sixteenth notes are seemingly randomly assigned to the snare or the bass drum and the result sounds cool, even that way.

Embedding simple syncopated patterns in drumbeats

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Using These Patterns as Building Blocks for Drum Beats

Once you have a solid command of the different building blocks, you can combine them in any way you want – just make sure that you are not leaving your time signature without purpose.

There are no rules on what order these blocks have to follow and there are no limitations regarding the inner composition of these groups – that is, you can come up with almost any combination of notes featuring off-beat strokes and end up with a nice syncopated beat.

In the first two measures I have added an extra bass drum for counts one and three, so that the beat would not feel that strange at first. However, the third and the fourth measure illustrates that beginning a beat with a bass drum is not compulsory and experimenting around can yield awesome results.

Using these patterns as building blocks for drumbeats

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