Even though the disco era has faded over the past twenty or thirty years, we are still hearing the benefits of the beats in a lot of dance and club music.
The disco drum beat is great for dancing, and provides you with a driving bass rhythm that keeps pumping away in the background. The most important feature of disco drum beats is the hi-hat.
I’ll be explaining how you will be able to play disco styled drum beats, and how you can create your own rhythms using the fundamental disco technique.
The most popular disco drum beat of all time is the 4/4 beat, with the off beat hi-hat. If you learn to play the standard 4/4 beat then you are already half way there. This beat is the first beat that any drummer should learn.
To play it all you have to do it hit the hi-hat with your right hand right times, playing the bass drum on the 1st and 5th hit, and the snare drum on the 3rd and 7th hit. Of course you probably already know this beat, but how do you make it disco? I’ll explain.
When this beat is played the drummer hit the hi-hats on their own after every time either the bass drum or snare drum is played. This is known as the off beat. When you raise your foot on the hi-hat the cymbal will create a different sound.
This is known as the slooshy. In disco music the off beat is always played as slooshy, and in the beats themselves (the snare and bass) it is always played closed. This means that not only do your hands have to keep to a rhythm but your left foot does as well.
Once you have mastered the simple disco drum beat then you can start to think about expanding it. Disco music is very simple and offers a driving beat throughout, which is usually provided by the bass drum.
This leaves your hands free to move around the kit. Single stroke rolls work great and the fills that you play should almost always be quick and snappy. People that are dancing don’t want to hear a drum solo; they want a continuous sound with little changes. Another great way to mix things up is to add in a cymbal crash between transitions.
Remember disco music may not be as popular as is used to be, but the techniques that are used are still relevant in today’s drumming. If you want to master the drums to the best of your abilities then you must try to master as many styles as possible.
A lot of disco drummers have managed to make the transition into rock music, such as Phil Collins. His drum sound is one of the most distinctive drum sounds on the planet, and it’s because of his background that makes him unique.
So try learning some disco, and maybe even incorporate techniques from the styles you’re used to playing to spice it up a bit. Drumming has no rules. You’re free to do what you want, when you want and how you want to. This all contributes to your own identity.
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