Basics

The Lindy Beat

The Grooviest of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll Rhythms

by Rich Redmond

The classic rhythm we’re exploring this month has weathered the test of time since first appearing in the early twentieth century. The pattern is associated with the jazz dance called the Lindy hop, which originated in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood in the 1920s and was a very popular form of dance during the swing era of the late ’30s and early ’40s.

The Lindy drumbeat, which came to be one of the most common feels in early rock ’n’ roll, evolved out of the swing shuffle and features strong snare accents on beat 2, the “&” of 2, and beat 4. You can hear this infectious groove everywhere from surf rock to the Foo Fighters, and it can played straight or with a triplet-based shuffle feel. Practice the following examples using both interpretations.

The first three patterns are one bar each, but we jump into two-bar options at Example 4. Apply cymbal variations to each groove to create different feels, and experiment by applying the ride patterns to crashes, toms, rims, and cowbells. Commit to mastering the Lindy beat, and you’ll be tapping into the roots of rock ’n’ roll. Enjoy!

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Rich Redmond drums for country star Jason Aldean, is an award-winning clinician, and is an active session drummer in Nashville and Los Angeles. His recent book/DVD, FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids (coauthored with Michael Aubrecht), is available through Modern Drummer Publications.