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The Drummer’s Guide to Musical Genres

By Yann, published on 28/08/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Music > Drums > A Guide to Drumming Techniques and Styles

“It’s been years and years and years I’ve been playing the drums, and they’re still a challenge. I still enjoy using drumsticks and a snare drum.” – Charlie Watts

A lot of teens listen to hip hop, pop music, r ‘n’ b, reggae, electro and rock.

But where do metal and jazz come into it?

Aspiring drummers can listen to and play any style of music they want. However, you have to learn how to play the drums before you can start playing rock, jazz, metal, or any other musical style.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at a few different musical genres, which are the best for learning to play the drums too, and what makes their drumbeats so special.

Rock Drumming

Even if you love funk, you probably can’t start by playing the drums to it.

Which are the best songs for drummers? There are so many songs that would be nothing without the drumbeat! (Source: fradellafra)

Rock rhythms are usually the easiest to get to grips with and are often the first thing you’ll see in drum lessons. Beginner drum lessons often focus on these drum rudiments because they’re some of the simplest to play along to.

What are they like?

Rock drumbeats use a binary rhythm with 4 beats that alternate between the bass drum and the snare drum.

This is the rhythm you should learn to play before you move onto anything else. The drums can be a tricky instrument to play so make sure to walk before you can run.

When you play the drums, you have to be able to multitask as your right hand, left hand, right foot, and left foot will all be doing different things. For right-handers this is how you will sit at your drum kit:

  • The left hand will work the snare drum.
  • The right hand will keep rhythm on the hi-hat.
  • The right foot operates the bass pedal.
  • The left foot opens and closes the hi-hat.

Before you start playing a song in its entirety, complete with drum fills and twirling your sticks, you need to be able to keep time by playing a simple beat.

Here’s a typical rock beat:

  • 1: Hi-hat and bass drum
  • “And”: Hi-hat.
  • 2: Hi-hat and snare drum
  • “And”: Hi-hat.
  • 3: Hi-hat and bass drum
  • “And”: Hi-hat.
  • 4: Hi-hat and snare drum
  • “And”: Hi-hat.

You just need to follow three steps to get this right.

Make sure you can keep time on the closed hi-hat. Use a metronome to help you!

Play clean and strong snare beats as well as powerful bass drum beats. It needs to be regular, powerful, and in time.

After a few weeks, you’ll be comfortable enough to move onto other rock rhythms whether you’re teaching yourself or working with a drum tutor.

Jazz Drumming

Jazz is a great genre for both percussionists and drummers. With the right motivation, anything is possible: ternary rhythm, triplets, and improvising can all be learnt if you stick at it. Just don’t get discouraged at the start.

How do you play jazz drums? Jazz drummers are some of the most talented drummers around. (Source: Simone_ph)

Jazz is a great way to expand your musical horizon and improve your creativity and coordination as it’s all about listening to the other musical instruments in the group and going with the flow by improvising.

The history of jazz is constantly changing, but the drums are the one thing that’s remained consistent.

The drums guide the band and are arguably the hardest element of jazz to master. To get started, you should learn a chabada (or shuffle) ternary rhythm. This is a basic jazz rhythm that you’ll be able to get a lot of use out of.

In jazz, you don’t count like you would in rock (1-2-3-4) but rather in triplets. “1-and-a-2-and-a-3-and-a-4-and-a…”

Before you start playing chabada, you should get used to jazz rhythm by listening to some famous jazz pieces.

Then, you need to master the beat. Unlike the hi-hat you use in rock music, you’re going to be using the ride a lot.

Once you’ve got the hang of playing a ternary rhythm on the ride cymbal, you need to start opening and closing the hi-hat with your foot in order to keep time:

  • 1: ride
  • “And”: ride and hi-hat
  • “A”: ride
  • 2: ride
  • “And”: ride and hi-hat
  • “A”: ride
  • And repeat.

Easy, isn’t it?

Once you’ve got the hang of this, you can start adding the bass drum, the snare, and the toms.

Metal Drumming

To get started with metal drumming, you don’t need to be a professional drummer with several acoustic and electronic drum kits! You just need to start with some basic rock rhythms. Metal also uses a binary rhythm. We’re back to our basic rock beat. Like I said, it’s the drumbeat to learn! It’s used in more than just rock songs, too.

How do you use a double bass pedal? If you’re going to put on the metal show of the century, you’re going to have to get practising! (Source: Donations_are_appreciated)

To make your rock beat a metal beat, you can slightly open the hi-hat. This is called half-open hi-hat.

Metal has a more aggressive sound than rock music. Don’t hesitate to put all your strength into hitting the snare and the bass drum. It can be tricky finding a drum tutor who specialises in using a double pedal. That said, you can achieve a metal rhythm without a double pedal.

The snare is still played on the 2nd and 4th beats. However, the bass drum is also played during the off-beats.

Here’s an example of a few metal drum beats.

  • 1:
    • 1: Hi-hat and bass drum
    • 2: Bass drum
    • 3: Hi-hat and bass drum
    • 4: Rest
  • 2:
    • 2: Hi-hat and snare drum
    • 3: Bass drum
    • 3: Hi-hat and bass drum
    • 4: Bass drum
  • 3:
    • 3: Hi-hat
    • 2: Bass drum
    • 3: Hi-hat and bass drum
    • 4: Rest
  • 4:
    • 4: Hi-hat, bass drum, and snare drum
    • 2: Bass drum
    • 3: Hi-hat.
    • 4: Rest

You’ll see that we count four beats rather than the two we’re used to in rock. Make sure you break down each part and play it slowly before you start putting it all together.

If you like playing metal, then you should probably look into getting a Pearl or Ludwig double pedal. Don’t forget that metal, like other musical genres, has fills, licks, and breaks, too.

Writing Music for Drums

We can’t start improvising or writing music if you don’t have an understanding of the fundamentals. Before you get started, I recommend having a look at this basic song structure. Unlike what you might think, most songs will fall into this kind of structure.

  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Bridge
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Outro

Each part usually lasts 8 measures except for the bridge and the outro. Most popular songs last less than 4 minutes and are in standard 4/4 time.

How do you write music for the drums? Are you ready to take to the stage? (Source: Pexels)

Once you’re aware of that, you can start laying the foundations for your song. You’ll need a guitar part, a drumbeat, a bassline, and a vocal melody.

Ready?

When using the structure outlined above, the main drumbeat will be played during the verse with a variation being played during the chorus. You’ll need fills to transition between parts and musical breaks, such as a drum solo!

Accentuate the powerful parts with the crash cymbal.

Even if you’re not familiar with music theory and don’t know how to read sheet music, you can always write down your ideas in a way that you’ll understand.

Once you’ve finished your piece, you should get an expert to listen to it before showing it off to the general public.

Keep in mind that if you want to learn any of these styles or just how to play the drums, private tutors are a great option as they’ll tailor their lessons to you. With a private tutor, you can decide upon what you want to learn, the musical style you want to focus on, and your own personal learning goals and how to achieve them.

If there are no private tutors near you, don’t forget that you can always look for online private tutors. These tutors will teach you via online video conferencing software (such as Skype) and are a great option for people living rurally or those who work late nights or shifts who would be unable to attend a regular class at a school. Of course, you don’t want to schedule your lessons early in the morning when you’d wake up your neighbours.

If a tutor seems to be the option for you, then start your search on Superprof!

Vocabulary

Ad Libitum

If you play jazz, you’ll probably see this on the sheet music. It means “at one’s pleasure” or “as you please” and means you can do whatever you want.

Accent

This is a note that’s clearly struck for emphasis. Accents are marked above the stave with an arrow over the accent notes.

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