In 4/4 Western music—whether rock or jazz—the backbeat is usually played on beats 2 and 4. In 12/8, the backbeat often falls on the 8th-note counts of beats 4 and 10. Typical backbeat placement in 4/4 and 12/8 is notated as follows.

For other time signatures, it can be argued that there’s no general standard for the placement of the backbeat, and you’d most likely position it according to the rhythmic makeup of the tune and the tempo. Having said that, the following exercises demonstrate some possibilities for playing a backbeat in rock music in 3/4.

There are dozens of bass drum patterns that can be played under these exercises. To keep the focus on the placement of the backbeats, only one possible bass drum figure is notated for each exercise. However, in most exercises one of the bass drum notes will be in parentheses. First play the exercises with all the indicated bass drum notes, and then practice it while omitting the notes in parentheses. This provides one extra bass drum variation for each exercise.

Here are some backbeat possibilities for rock patterns in 3/4.

Ghost notes—quiet snare strokes that are played between backbeats—add a richer, more intricate sound to grooves. The following exercises demonstrate some ghost note possibilities in 3/4.

This article presents just a few possibilities of where to place the backbeat in 3/4. I suggest you explore additional ideas using the exercises in this lesson as a starting point. Good luck!