Jazz Drummer’s Workshop

Coordinating Accents Independently

by Ed Soph

Independence may mean playing two or more rhythmic patterns simultaneously. It may also mean playing two or more rhythmic patterns simultaneously and coordinating different accent patterns within those rhythmic patterns.Here are some basic exercises in accent coordination which you may find helpful to your jazz technique and conception. We shall use eighth note triplets for the examples. The exercises may also be played as quarter note and sixteenth note triplets.The basic accent patterns with eighth note triplets are:

jazz-drummers-workshop-1 Coordinating Accents Independently


Maintain the 2 and 4 accent pattern of the ride rhythm. Also, play the hi-hat on 2 and 4. Upon playing these exercises the first time, the ride pattern will want to accent with the snare pattern, or the snare pattern will fall with the accent pattern of the ride. Here is a practice scheme which will help to develop independence. Practice slowly. Listen. Watch what you are doing. An accent is produced by using a stroke larger than that which is used for an unaccented note; not by “hitting” the instrument “harder.”

There are three steps to the practice scheme.
I. Play only the accented note(s) of the pattern, using large, rebounded strokes.
II. Play only the unaccented note(s) of the pattern using small, rebounded strokes.
III. Play both accented and unaccented notes to form the complete pattern combining large and small rebounded strokes.
With each step play these four ride rhythms:


jazz-drummers-workshop-2 Coordinating Accents Independently
Practice the triplet accent patterns by themselves, slowly, until you have mastered the mechanics of playing large and small rebounded strokes in the basic six combinations. You may find it frustrating to put it all together right from the beginning.

The six accent patterns should also be played on the bass drum with the ride patterns and the hi-hat on 2 and 4. The same approach is used as with the hands; a larger stroke for accented notes, smaller stroke for unaccented notes.

As with any technical/musical exercise, practice at many dynamic levels and tempos. Accents may be pp as well as ff. Whatever the dynamic level at which you practice, be sure to maintain a dynamic balance between all instruments of the set. Don’t let the snare or bass overshadow the ride and hi-hat. Balance the cymbals with the drums, and vice versa.