Most people that initially start playing the drums begin with rock and pop drumming. Rock drumming can be a great style to master as literally hundreds of different beats throughout music history is built around one single rhythm.
Most styles of rock music, such as; heavy rock, classic rock, alternative rock and metal are very similar in how they are played on the drum kit, and once you master the fundamentals of playing rock, then you will be able to play a variety of styles with very little practice.
Rock drumming can also form a strong grounding for a number of other styles such as; punk, funk and pop. That’s why if you learn to play rock drums first then you will be able to quickly master other styles and improve your overall coordination, speed and timing.
In this article I’ll explain how to play basic rock drum beats and give you advice on how to improvise, add drum fills and create your own signature style.
The 8th note beat is the first beat that most drummers will learn. Some people refer to this beat as the “walking beat.” The 8th note beat is played in 4/4, also known as common time, and most rock and pop beats are based around this one particular rhythm. To play the beat you must hit the hi-hat cymbals with your left hand eight times, counting: one, and, two, and, three, and, four, and.
This is known as a semi quaver, and lasts for 4 beats. Once you have found the basic timing with your left hand then the bass drum should be added in on both the one and three counts. Again, once you can play the beat combining both bass drum and hi-hats then you can add the snare drum on the two and four counts.
Keeping good timing can be very difficult if you are just starting out with drums. It’s best to begin by playing the beat very slowly, and then gradually speed it up once the rhythm has been mastered. Once you feel comfortable then you can experiment with different tempos and dynamics.
The best times to add in a drum fill when rock drumming is at the end of a beat. Utilizing the toms and crash cymbal can act as a great transition between sections. Always remember to keep the 4 count going in your head, this will ensure that you don’t go out of time.
If you start to feel you would like a change from standard 4/4 rock drumming beats, then you can always experiment with different time signatures. This is a common feature of progressive rock music, and can be heard in the music of Rush, Pink Floyd and Tool. One of the easiest time signatures to learn is 7/8. To play this you just need to remember that each bar lasts for 7 beats, not 4.
In conclusion it’s important to remember how versatile rock drum playing can be. It can form the foundation of many different styles and can help you to improve your strength, coordination and speed.
Here’s a great beginner video drum lessons on basic rock drumming beats.
And for those who are more advanced and adventurous, check out this video on beats in a different timing.
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