Off Beat Rhythms And How to Get the Hang Of It

off beat rhythmsIf you’re tired of the same old metal, why not spice things up?

So many metal musicians get stuck in the same rut for years. Even more simply hop on every available bandwagon and follow whatever trend may be of the moment.

But that isn’t you, because you’ve already made the first step towards originality; searching.

In this article, we will discuss the uses and how to’s of using off beat rhythms within the context of metal drumming lessons.

Before we can even start though, we will need to discover what on off beat rhythm actually is.

What Is An Off Beat Rhythm?

Off beat rhythms are rhythms which are played on the off beat. Sounds fairly self-explanatory, but most musicians have absolutely no idea what an off beat is.

An on beat is the primary beat of a measure. If we were to play a 4/4 measure comprised of quarter notes only, every beat would be an on beat. It would look like this:

One Two Three Four


Each beat is a primary beat of the time signature. This is a fancy way of saying each beat is an even quarter of the full signature.

If we were to play that same 4/4 rhythm, but using eighth notes instead of quarters, we would come up with something called the off beat. Our measure would now look like this:

One and Two and Three and Four and

The on beats, or primary beats, would be the numbers themselves. The off beats would be the ‘and’ beats. If we labeled each beat as on and off, we would come up with this:


One and Two and Three and Four and

On   off    On    off    On      off    On     off


Playing a rhythm on the off beat is a primary tactic employed by funk drummers. Doing this helps to achieve an off balance feel, with each beat coming later than expected. Not only is it different, but it is different in a tasteful way.

But how can all of this transfer over to our drum rolls for metal drumming?

Easily; through experimentation.

How To Play It For Metal Drumming?

Try accenting an off beat pattern during a verse. If your guitarist is playing an on beat, or primary beat, pattern, then you will both need to learn a crucial skill; focusing on yourself.

This may sound simply, but when two separate rhythms are being played at once, musicians tend to fall into a mass confusion. This is because musicians tend to follow one another when playing. The skill you will have to learn if you want to try and create two fully different patterns within a verse, chorus, or bridge, is simply to focus on yourself.

If you don’t feel comfortable with taking such an abstract approach yet, simply play a synchronized off beat pattern. Just like any other technique, don’t simply fall into using the off beat in every song or piece. Be creative with your usage; off beat rhythms won’t work everywhere.

In the end, off beat rhythms come down to one thing; practice. Take a block of time each day to simply practice your rhythms. Remember to have fun, but stay focused. Good luck!

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Drumeo is a step-by-step instructional program designed to help you get started with the basics and progress into an advanced drummer easily. It covers a wide variety of genres like rock, jazz and blues and lessons are broken down by topic.

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