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spacerx img Drums: Understanding Extreme Tempos

spacerx img 4th-Note 4/4 'Rock Beat' Variations

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4th-Note (or Quarter-Note) 4/4 'Rock Beat' Variations (Permutations):

There are 65,536 possible variations of the 4th-Note Rock Beat, depending on the tempos. The average drummer will normally memorize and develop only about 15 of them to top speed. The Worlds BEST drummers are probably using only a few more than that. Don't worry about the awesome 65,536. Many of those permutations are non-functional because they tend to reverse the polarity of the backbeats. Others are virtually impossible to play for us lowly, single-brained humanoids.

We will be focusing on the MOST IMPORTANT 'easy' beats in this lesson. Later on, when you get into permutation theory , a VERY BIG picture will form in your minds eye. You will easily understand these, and zillions of others of the remaining 'modified time signatures'. Learning to play them ALL might require several lifetimes.

spacerx img Try These Ideas

Each of the following (song beat) variations should be memorized and developed to maximum speed.

Remember! We are all, 'ONLY' human. There will be limits as to how fast we can play these patterns. Start at a very, very s l o w speed with each idea and build gradually, over a period of 20 or 30 minutes practice (with each pattern).

This is the most basic form of Basic Dancebeat #5, the Quarter-Note Rock Beat.

Listen to it.

Begin slow & gradually build speed. That quick second bass is syncopated 'in-between' the cymbals. If you've mastered Bass syncopations already, this should seem easy.

Try playing along as you listen to it.

This is the same idea used differently. It will produce a different rhythm.

Listen and play along.

Now we are doing essentially the same thing on the snare.

Listen and play along.

This next variation is one of the most popular Quarter Rock variations. It is really a quarter-note form of the 'Fatback #1' (song-beat) pattern we studied in the previous lesson. The difference is, we're now eliminating half the cymbal notes. With the elimination of those cymbal (hi hat) notes we discover that we can now play the patterns at near double the tempos. All four of those Fatback patterns we learned in the previous lesson can and should be studied this same way, with Quarter-notes on the hi hat.

Hopefully you will begin to see that manipulating extreme speeds and blazing tempos becomes a matter of logic. We need to recognize the fact that there are limits to how fast the hands and feet will move. As tempos increase, we're bound by those limitations, no matter how we strive and struggle to push the envelope. The solution to extreme tempos and speeds is to keep it real. We must understand that we simply can't do as much as tempos increase. To play faster tempos actually means we must . . . do less.

TIP: If you understand the above logic, then this might be a good time for me to admit that a 6th Basic Dance Beat (Half-Note Rock 4/4) will exist if we eliminate the hi-hat notes on the counts of 2 and 4. Doing so will make it easy to double the tempo once again. To do this will create a rather lame (appearing) beat structure. It appears to be too simple. Or . . . I should say, it appears too simple, until we need it in order to stay in-time with a blazing fast song. Then it may become a life-saver.

As song tempos go totally berserk, we may be forced to resort to using 'Half-note Rock 4/4' as a way to keep up with the music. The recent 'youth market' (Punk, Headbanger, etc., etc.) music styles seems to be demanding those berserk tempos. So, if you are into the extremely fast-tempo music styles, you'll be needing this knowledge.

The reason I don't have a specific lesson on Half-note 4/4, 32nd-note 4/4 and some of the other existing primary dancebeats is the fact that they are so rarely used. I also know you will understand them easily as the music you encounter calls for them. (So now, I must admit that I lied.) There are more than just 5 Basic Dancebeat structures. If you'll remember though, I said that 98% of all music is based within the big 5. Half-note 4/4, 32nd-note 4/4 (and a few others) belong in the final 2% category. So, it wasn't really a lie; it just seems prudent to not mention them until there is a need to do so.

Listen and play along.

Hear all of them back to back.

Also be aware that as you play these extreme tempos you will also want to inject all the fills into the music as well. Nearly all the classic note-value fills we've studied will fit within these tempos as well. Their note-value names will change but the fills will feel and sound nearly the same as they did when we applied them to 8th 'rock' 4/4.

Here is the Quarter-note Fatback beat with an added Single stroke Fill. Also try double-strokes, paradiddles, triplets, crushes and every fill or fill combination you can play. Keep the primary tempo steady and go crazy with fills and beat variations if you can.

Yes! This is difficult. Take heart beginners. You will gain these speeds gradually as you continue playing and jamming with all the slower music styles. Don't get spooked if you can't do all this as rapidly as you would like. It will come with time.

Once you have these few patterns cooking . . . try playing them end to end, and mix them around. You should begin to realize that your are beginning to sound a lot like some of your favorite monster players! After that, get the creative juices flowing. Imagine other configurations of the bass/snare within this framework (or signature modification). There is plenty I haven't covered here. I KNOW you will get the rest as you listen and jam with more music within this vein. It will also come to light as you study Finite to Infinity.

Since these beats are geared for quick tempos you may find it difficult to cram in the complex rolls at first. Don't panic! Just keep playing and keep doing what you can do.

VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the this entire lesson. (This video is designed for Internet Explorer using Windows Media Player.)

Video: For almost all handheld devices and other browsers.

Each of the above patterns is one full measure of Quarter-note 4/4 . . .or (street name) 'Quarter Rock'. Any measure of any song can 'technically' be different than the one before it (theoretically). Wild drummers tend to take advantage of the theoretical rule, where most 'generic' drummers tend to play one or two permutation patterns repetitiously . . . all the way through a song. This sounds like pretty lame or simplistic philosophy, from a drummer's perspective . . . but there are BIG and IMPORTANT reasons for playing the simple and boring 'generic' way.

Hint: Over-playing tends to often offend the other musicians within the band. They may throw us a squinting 'fisheye' if we choose to over-play. In other words, if we hog the show it sometimes means that they may need to quit expressing themselves rhythmically and musically. It means we're asking them to step-back while we steal their limelight. This may not set well with all the musicians you will meet. Some will fight you for the glory and their fair share of the limelight.

It is a debate that has been raging for years. See the online lesson, 'How to beat the Monster Drummers to the Dream Gigs' . We'll touch on this subject a little there. Also; here's another web-page that delves into the same topic a bit more. You must decide and live-with your own philosophies, but it is good to be fully aware of both sides of the (Simplicity VS Creativity) issue.

The secret to becoming a killer drummer is a matter of dedicated and persistent practice mixed with a heavy diet of jamming fun. So, learn little bites of new knowledge, one bite at a time, then adapt the new info into your own playing style gradually, by jamming with recordings for hours. The objective is to make each morsel of new knowledge, a part of your daily jamming routine!

Try to devote about three hours to the above beat patterns. It may seem boring at first! The boredom factor tends to make it difficult for many students to realize the value. Practice the 'boring' routines in your easy chair while you watch TV, or at the computer while you wait for web pages to load. This will help make the studious routine more enjoyable. A few days later, your ability as you jam with recordings, will surge to new levels.

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