BY STEWART JEAN
The ability to play over the bar and not lose the downbeat is essential to all drummers. A great way to develop this skill is with a small three-note grouping of sixteenth-notes between the kick and snare. As an added bonus, by superimposing various hi-hat or ride patterns on top you can develop excellent sixteenth-note limb independence, which will help with ensemble figure set ups, improvisation and sixteenth-note-based grooves.
To start, play the following pattern in a four-bar phrase (Ex. 1) while counting downbeats (1, 2, 3, 4) out loud. The bass drum sound should be consistent and the snare notes should be evenly balanced played at a ghost note volume. Put your metronome on at a comfortable bpm that allows you to count along with it.
Next, add an evenly played (no accents, yet) eighth-note hi-hat pattern on top (Ex. 2). Make sure all notes are lining up perfectly and keep counting out loud.
This is usually where my students start to add an unwanted accent that makes this pattern fall into a feeling of being in three. Although this pattern does indeed reset itself after three beats, we want to avoid this and maintain even notes, feeling the downbeats and the four-bar phrasing. Make sure you are not playing the pattern in Ex. 3. Although this may be a cool lick to your ears, it should be avoided for the purposes of this exercise.
Next, add a downbeat accent to the hi-hat pattern (Ex. 4). For this and the rest of the exercises, play two bars of a preparatory groove to set up the new hi-hat pattern.
Now switch to an upbeat accent (Ex. 5).
The next step is to introduce sixteenths on the hi-hat to create layering between the hi-hat and snare drum. Begin with no accents on the hi-hat (Ex. 6).
Add an accent on the downbeats (Ex. 7).
Flip the hi-hat pattern over with no accents (Ex. 8).
Add an accent on the downbeats (Ex. 9).
Flip the accent to the upbeats (Ex. 10).
Lastly, move from the hi-hat to the ride, playing all accented notes on the bell and add eighth-notes with the foot on the hi-hat. Ultimately, you will be able to move from pattern to pattern seamlessly.
Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.