hi hat strategyLet us face it: what is the most common problem drummers have to deal with? Is it the inability to play rudiments accurately? Is it boosting their double bass speed? Or maybe is it scheduling practice time?

Well, the latest is the closest, even though it is not the exact answer: the problem is related to time. The holy grail of drumming is – wait for it – keeping time. Actually, if we could sum up the function of any drummer in two words, these would be those words: “keeping time”. However, perfect time-keeping is not born just by deciding to keep time.

Perfect time is the result of a rigorous practice routine and probably also requires a little a tad bit of talent. Luckily, there are some simple tricks that might help you during your practice routines and might even add some depth to your playing later on.

Using Your Foot to Frame the Beat

Most of the drum beats most drummers play nowadays are kind of straightforward. Ninety percent of music, from mainstream pop music to garage metal bands use songs in a four-four time signature and are based on a very simple groove, also known as the “money beat”.

It is exactly the simplicity of this beat that often yields to an explainable fluctuation observable in the case of many drummers. By playing a steady quarter note on the hi-hat pedal you can bring some stability to the beat. The first example below illustrates how a ride-driven beat can incorporate the hi-hat closes. Even if the resulting sound will not be entirely different, your sound will actually gain some depth and your playing will become quite a bit more complex.

The second example shows an interesting example of how an originally hi-hat based technique can incorporate these quarter notes without being brought over to the ride cymbal. By removing the note played by the hands on the cymbal for every quarter and replacing it with the note played by the hand, the beat is now given a new, fresh groove.

Using your foot to frame your beat

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Creating a Basis for Interesting Fills

The most important thing that you have to pay attention to when playing fills is that you should never leave the time signature you are supposed to play in. In case you would like to play fills that are longer than just a few sixteenth notes at the end of the measure, learning to keep time by playing quarter notes on the hi-hat pedal will come in handy.

The sound produced by the closing of the hi-hat is not obtrusive: it is present, but it does not take away the limelight from the more important parts of the music, so it can even be used as a placeholder for rests.

In the example below I tried to illustrate just how versatile this technique can be. Individual quarter-note strokes can be used to bring all the musicians to the same tempo and to allow the music to begin in a smoother way.

Also, these can be used as a straightforward backbone for regular beats – there is nothing to explain regarding that part. However, as you can see in the last measure, using this technique for keeping time will enable you to deliver nifty fills and later even quite complex solos.

Creating a basis for interesting fills

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