I think all drummers would agree that Vinnie Colaiuta’s playing on Sting’s “Seven Days” is one of the greatest recorded performances of all time. His ability to add subtle nuances within the groove is unreal. Not only are the ideas amazing but we also catch glimpses of Colaiuta’s flawless technique. The fills going into the choruses are just mind-blowing. The entire tune is a clinic and there is certainly a lot to unpack when put under the microscope.

In this lesson we are going to look at a few of this tune’s hi-hat accent patterns that can be used as an excellent practice tool. By working on this you will improve your independence, stick control and note placement ability. Remember to always count and be aware of any tension arising in your body.

The basic groove (Ex. 1) is simply bass drum on beat 1 with a sidestick on beat 4, all under a template of eighth-notes on the closed hi-hat.

Ex. 1

Next, we hear Vinnie sneak a 4/4 hi-hat pattern in over the 5/4 groove (Ex. 2).

Ex. 2

When tackling this part you must remember to stay relaxed and allow the stick to do the work. Next, Vinnie takes it a step further by slipping into an accented pattern of three on the hi-hat (Ex. 3).

Ex. 3

These two ideas are plenty to digest by themselves. But a great practice technique is to toggle between the two ideas, creating an eight-measure pattern (Ex. 4). Note that the pattern of 4/4 starts on beat 4 of the measure eight.

Ex. 4


Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.