Drum Beat: What is the basic drum beat?

Drum Beat: What is the basic drum beat?


10 Common Drum Beats Every Drummer Should Know

It’s the question that each beginner drummer wants to understand the solution to: what drum beats should I learn? Which common drum beats will allow me to jam my favourite songs sort of a pro?

Whether you dream of rocking a stadium or just want to begin a neighborhood band, it all starts with these standard drum beats.

As an expert drummer, I’ve picked the ten examples that i exploit most frequently in my work.

We’ll start by observing the foremost common backbeats (where the snare is played on beats 2 and 4).

Then, we’ll explore a number of the more complex backbeats and drum grooves out there, adding more variety and difficulty as we go along.

Man in Black and White Plaid Dress Shirt Playing Drum Set

And stay tuned, because I’ll be showing you at the tip of this text exactly a way to learn these drum beats for yourself.

If you'll get an edge on these ten drum beats, you’ll be on your thanks to becoming a capable and versatile player.

Whatever genres of music you like, there’ll likely be a beat to suit you during this wide-ranging guide.

We’ll be staring at everything from hip-hop to the blues, jazz to metal, and everything in between.

Standard 8th note groove

No drum beat is more iconic than the quality 8th note groove.

In fact, it provides the inspiration for many of the music that we hear.

You’ll have heard it countless times in pop, rock, blues, metal and a range of other musical styles.

I’d be willing to put a bet with you that this beat appears more in your playlist than the other.


To get us started, let’s have a hear what it sounds like:If you’re reading this on mobile, choose the ‘listen in browser’ option when being attentive to the beats to create it easier to follow together with the article.

Then, take a glance at the infographic below that breaks down how this drum beat works.

Standard 8th Note Groove Drum Beat Sheet Music

In a standard bar of music, we've got 4 beats. That’s why our first job as drummers is to count to 4 to bring the band in at the beginning of a song.

On beats 1 and three, you play the low-pitched drum. On beats 2 and 4, you play the high-pitched side drum.

Keeping great time is your most vital job as a drummer, and therefore the bass and snare are the key weapons that may cause you to into a first-class timekeeper.

Great drummers move from bass to snare within the same way that a pendulum moves from side to side.

This creates a sense of motion that encourages listeners to bop, rock out, and find lost within the music!

Don’t forget the hi-hats

The final a part of this groove is that the 8th notes which drummers typically play on the hi-hat cymbal.

You can consider these 8th notes because the essential glue that holds the groove together.

Drummers play the hi-hat on all 4 beats further because the spaces in-between.

So how does that work?


If you were to count the hi-hats aloud, you'd count them as “1 and a couple of and three and 4 and”. this offers you 8 notes in total, hence why this called the quality 8th note groove.

If this all sounds a small amount confusing, don’t panic. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to find out to play the drums, you simply must take it step by step.

If you’d like some simple explainer videos that take you through everything you would like to understand, you'll click here to test out our ‘Common Drum Beats’ course.

If you’re feeling so comfortable up to now, let’s get on with the following groove and listen to our next musical examples.

Four to the floor

The four to the ground drum beat adds an additional level of funkiness to the quality 8th note groove.

Rather than just playing the tympan on beats 1 and three, the tympan is now played on all 4 beats.

It’s THE groove you must learn if you would like to urge into pop, funk and disco drumming.

One essential track that you just must hear if you would like to listen to an excellent example of a four to the ground beat is Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’.

Hear how the drummer plays a drum on every beat and adds extra variety by improvising on the hi-hat cymbal.

The constant pulse creates a rock-solid feeling to the music, which is strictly what we would like to make as drummers!

In fact, engaged on your timing is that the most essential element of becoming an excellent drummer.

Shuffle groove

The shuffle groove is one among my personal favourites and one I’m sure you’ll be conversant in.

This drum beat keeps the identical bass and snare rhythm because the previous grooves but uses a novel and quite brilliant cymbal pattern.

This cymbal pattern uses a triplet rhythm to form a bouncing feeling called a shuffle.

How does it do that?

A triplet is made up of 3 notes, but in this track, it plays only 2 of the 3 notes.

Here’s how it looks in sheet music.

Shuffle Groove Drum Beat Sheet Music

Can you see how the 2 triplet notes that are played are approximate, and so there's an area within the middle between them?

This busyness, followed by space, followed by busyness, creates a bounciness to the rhythm.

Here’s a real-life example for you.

Have a hear Stevie Ray Vaughan’s famous blues track ‘Pride and Joy’. are you able to hear the bounce within the cymbal rhythm?

Learning the shuffle is one in every of the key items in your drumming toolbox. Many of the legendary drummers of the past are famous for his or her shuffles.

In fact, we’ll cover some famous and super complicated shuffles later.

16th note groove

If you’re a follower of hip-hop, R&B or classic rock, then you’ll love the following drum beat on our list.

The 16th note groove is our busiest drum pattern yet, with four hi-hats played for each bass and snare beat.

These 16th notes are referred to as semiquavers and are considerably harder to play than 8th notes.

But don’t hang up your sticks just yet. You’ve got this!

To inspire you, try this great example of a 16th note groove.

Find out why drummers have voted it one in all the highest drumming tracks of all time!

Developing the 16th note groove beat skills

To play this beat, you’ll must build up your long-term memory and stamina.

Drummers often  try this with a practice pad, which allows you to practise the basics of drumming without a drum kit.

I practice on a pad whenever I’m not near a drum kit and this has helped me develop the technical ability to play a number of my favourite grooves.

Also, try the image of Rush drummer Neil Peart’s drum kit below.

Neil Peart’s Drum Kit that surrounds himNeil Peart’s drum kit

You know you’ve made it as a drummer when your drum kit completely surrounds you!

Neil Peart’s Drum Kit that surrounds him

12/8 groove

While drum beats are often the loudest and most blatant element of a track, the truly great drummers are ready to play with incredible subtlety and control.

One beat that it's particularly important to play dynamically (that is, the power to play soft similarly as loud) is that the 12/8 groove.

This groove could be a classic accompaniment to ballads, slow rock tracks and blues tunes.

In these tracks, the drummer gently keeps time, providing space for deeply moving vocal and guitar performances.

For this groove, the drummer plays 3 hi-hats for each bass and snare beat.

In effect, there are 12 8th notes, which provides the groove its name.

One artist famous for using 12/8 grooves in his songs is Gary Moore, a private favourite of professional guitarists.

DID YOU KNOW? Drummers sometimes use wire brushes to play songs that are too delicate for drumsticks.

Motown drum beat groove

Motown is an iconic record label that produced much of the chart-topping music of the 1960s onwards.

If you're an admirer of Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye or the Jackson Five, you’ll be taking note of sound of Motown.

One great drum beat that came out of the so-called Motown “hit-factory” was a beat that completely reinvented the quality 8th note groove.

Rather than playing the snare on just the two and 4, the quality Motown groove adds a snare to each single beat.

This provides a driving rhythm that pushes a song forwards with a bouncy, upbeat feel.

Check out legendary Motown drummer James Gadson demonstrating the quality Motown groove within the video below.

Reggae groove

If you’ve got this far through our exploration of our top 10 popular drum beats, you may be feeling overloaded with information!

Fortunately, the the reggae groove is far more chilled out – less is more with this drum beat!

In a reggae groove, the gran casa and snare are only played once every four beats.

We also do something super cool on the drum, a way called the crosstick, which creates a special metallic sound.

Focused black man playing guitar in studio

Can you hear how the metallic click of the crosstick gives the beat a very different vibe?

Some of the hi-hat cymbals also are accented (meaning that they're played louder), which adds an additional level of funkiness to the beat too.

Don’t forget to also take a look at our free guide: ‘How To Play Drums For Beginners’

Disco groove

When it’s time to party, look no further than the disco groove.

This beat makes heavy use of a musical figure called the ‘offbeat’.

Whereas the main focus of most rhythms is on the beat (1, 2, 3, 4), the disco groove places emphasis on the 8th notes between the beats.

This offbeat feel creates a up and down motion that encourages your craziest dancing!

As you'll see within the picture below, the drummers use ‘open’ hi-hat cymbals on the offbeat in an exceedingly disco track.

Normally, drummers hold their hi-hat cymbals together employing a lever, but in disco, they open and shut these cymbals regularly.

Open hi-hat cymbal for drum beatsAllowing the hi-hat cymbals to hold open creates a brighter and fuller sound

Opening and shutting the hi-hat may be a good way to feature variety and interest to your drum beats and catch the ear of your listener.

Jazz ostinato

But hold on a second, I hear you say, when are you visiting show me something that’s super complicated?

Since we’re getting towards the top of our exploration of common drum beats, it’s time to appear at a number of the more complex grooves that drummers can learn.

One style famous for its level of improvisation and freedom is jazz.

The jazz ostinato could be a swing rhythm that provides the musicians in your band the utmost amount of space to improvise.

Music Sheet on Organ

The jazz ostinato is often played on the ride cymbal, with a soft gran casa on every beat.

The drum is supposed to be played so quietly that you just ‘feel’ instead of ‘hear’ it.

I’ve deliberately left the tympan out of this next audio example so you'll be able to specialize in the cymbals, which are the foremost important elements of this beat.

As well as playing the ride cymbal, jazz drummers also tread on the hi-hat pedal on beats 2 and 4, closing the cymbals together and creating a ‘chick’ sound that keeps the band in time.

What makes this drum beat difficult is that the style of tympan rhythms that are played together with the beat.

This requires a robust ability to multitask, known in drumming as ‘independence’.

The best jazz drummers can play with a high level of independence whilst still making the beat feel great.

As Irving Mills said, “well it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing”.

You can find an excellent example of this beat on Miles Davis’s influential track ‘So What’.

DID YOU KNOW? Jazz drummers use a way referred to as ‘feathering’ to play the drum extremely softly.

Half-time shuffle

This is perhaps the foremost difficult groove on our list, but also one amongst most fun!

The half-time shuffle is an iconic drum beat played by drumming masters like Bernard Purdie, John Bonham, Phil Collins and Jeff Porcaro.

You’ve probably already guessed that this drum beat may be a combination of a shuffle and a half-time feel.

The drummers during this groove fill within the spaces between the hi-hat notes with quiet tympan hits called ‘ghost notes’.

Have a hear this amazing track from Steely Dan featuring Bernard Purdie on drums.

Can you hear the quiet snare drums between the hi-hat beats?

They are often very subtle but add extra nuance and depth to drum beats. The pros love this sort of playing!

How am i able to learn to play these common drum beats?

Congratulations on taking your first steps to understanding these iconic drum beats.

I hope you’ve felt inspired to select up your drum sticks and learn a number of these classic rhythms for yourself.

Learning to play these drum beats might sound hella confusing initially.

But after all, you don’t should be a rocket scientist to find out to play the drums, or maybe an everyday scientist. In fact, you don’t need to be involved in science in the slightest degree.

I’ve put together a group of easy-to-understand, step-by-step videos which will allow to find out everything you’ve read on this blog today.

They’re super fun, and geared toward beginner drummers, so whether or not you’ve never picked up a drumstick in your life, it’s the right place to begin.

I’ll get you playing along to some iconic music immediately, and you don’t even need a drum set to induce started.

If you’d wish to determine more, simply follow the link to be taken to our ‘Common Drum Beats’ page, with more information about the course.

If you’re new learning drums, my article ‘Is It Hard to be told Drums’ will facilitate your to know what to expect as you start to figure on these drum beats.

If you’re unsure if drumming is for you, my advice would be to leap in and have a go!

I’m so glad that I took the leap to find out the way to play the drums.

10 years ago, i made a decision to begin my journey, first playing on pillows, then learning to play drums without a drum set, to finally playing on an acoustic kit.

It’s now the largest passion in my life and that i hope that you’ll find it even as inspiring as I do.

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