The Basic Dance Beats
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The bulk of modern music is based on a few simple beat patterns. Learn those beats and play any song. Playing with music will come natural and you will be playing by 'ear' once you have mastered these rhythms. It is that easy to become a drummer!
The following few pages will provide you with the basic beat patterns needed to play almost any song, regardless of your personal taste in music. As you study and learn these beats, notice that a mathematical pattern becomes evident between the speed (or tempo) of the beat and the number of cymbal (hi-hat) notes being played. Slow songs require more fill notes on the cymbal and fast songs require less. (Hairstyles and body-art have nothing what-so-ever to do with any of this.)
Make a bookmark and get a printout of this page. Practice these drumbeats as you go through your day. Learn each beat separately. Imagine a drum set in front of you, wherever you are. Repeat the moves of each beat, steadily, over and over, until they become ingrained into your memory, (MEMORIZED.) Shortly after that, no matter what songs play on the radio, you will discover that you can easily, listen, analyze, then jump-in and play along . . . almost like magic. When that begins to occur (and it will), come back to this web site and proceed with the other lessons. It is crucially important that you should MEMORIZE, these beat patterns pretty well, before moving on to another lesson. This is the stuff that will give you the ability to become a 'natural' drummer.
Dance beat #1: 16th 'SLOW ROCK' 4/4
Approximately 15 songs per 100 will utilize some form of this basic beat.
Hear the Basic 16th ROCK Beat. Midi (audio) file only
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 16th rock video.
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I am assuming that you can read and understand these patterns. If you are experiencing difficulty, then return to the previous lesson and learn to READ DRUM NOTATION. Go over that lesson until you understand it, then come back.
HINT: On top of the 16th rock example (above) you will see the counting procedure. It often helps to say the actual words "one,ee,and,aah,two,ee,and,aah" and so on. You will be saying "and" with each "+" (plus-sign) that you see. Pat your foot as you say "one" and tap your left hand as you say "two". Follow through and keep it going. Try it! If it helps then use it.
Dance beat #2: 6/8 'BLUES'
Approximately 12 songs per 100 will utilize some form of this basic beat.
Hear the Basic BLUES Beat
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the BLUES BEAT video.
Writing conventions dictate that most of these patterns may be written several ways. For example, the above pattern could be written as 'Triplet 2/4' or even 'Triplet 4/4'. Don't let that issue confuse you. The beat will sound the same, no matter how it is written.
Dance beat #3: Eighth 'ROCK' 4/4
Approximately 45 songs per 100 will utilize some form of this basic beat.
Hear the Basic ROCK Beat
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the 8th rock video. You learned this beat in the previous two lessons.
We studied this beat in the previous lessons because it is the most often used. It is included again here so that you can see how it falls into the tempo scale of primary dance beats. This is a medium tempo beat. Remember, faster tempos (speeds) require less notes on the cymbal.
Dance beat #4: 6/8 'SWING/SHUFFLE'
Approximately 20 songs per 100 will utilize some form of this basic beat.
Hear the Basic SHUFFLE Beat
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the SHUFFLE BEAT video.
Swing/shuffle is the nightmare of them all and will be much easier to learn if associated with a song. Notice the eighth rests on the cymbal line. Think in groups of three but omit the middle cymbal of each group. . . (what a nightmare).
IT IS MUCH EASIER THAN THAT! Find a familiar song in the shuffle category and let it play as you study this beat. Listen deeply to the song and feel the rhythm. Move ahead if you are having problems. It will seem much easier after you have been playing a while longer.
NOTE: These patterns may be written many various ways. Only the most simple forms are being shown here.
Dance beat #5: Quarter note 4/4 or 'QUARTER ROCK'
Approximately 2 songs per 100 will utilize some form of this basic beat.
Hear the Basic 4th Rock Beat
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the QUARTER-NOTE 4/4 (ROCK BEAT) video.
This is a dance beat with many nicknames. It may be called Quarter rock, Doubletime, Cut time, Jazz, Breakdown, Uptempo, Quicktime, Polka or others that I haven't mentioned. If a song is fast . . . really fast, then this is the beat to use.
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