by Carmine Appice
We can now add the bass drum on one and three, and the snare drum on two and four.
This is called the “back beat” and it is the basic pattern on which all other rock beats are built.
The simple “back beat” of course is very elementary sounding when compared with the complex patterns of today. Let’s see how four-way coordination between hands and feet can make simple patterns more complex.
All of the previous exercises should be practiced slowly at first, gradually increasing speed.
If you use a double bass drum set-up, another interesting variation would be to play the previous examples with the hi-hat foot on the left bass drum. The patterns will have more “push” and will produce a total change in sound. Tune one bass drum higher than the other for tonal variation. The drum you decide to tune higher is a matter of your own individual preference and taste. I tune my left bass drum higher.
Try going through a rock drum book playing the bass drum part this way. You can still utilize the closed hi-hat while operating both bass drums by simply adjusting the top screw on the hi-hat stand and locking the cymbals in a closed position.
Mixed sticking is another device which can be used in creating interesting patterns. Paradiddle inversions work very well for this. In the example below, we have four sets of 16th notes, (counted 1 e an a). The accent is placed on the two and four to help the presence of the back beat throughout the measure. The non-accented notes should be played much lighter than the accented ones. With your right hand on the cymbal and left hand on the snare, play this pattern as written with proper accents.
Your right bass drum foot should follow your right hand. After you have mastered this pattern you can then begin to add the hi-hat on A) Quarter notes, . ) eighth notes, C) on the “an” of each beat. Try all of the following combinations the same way. For more tonal variation, these patterns can also be played on the hi-hat. This will produce a natural open and closed hi-hat sound.
When playing mixed sticking exercises with the right hand on the ride cymbal, be sure to play on the bell portion. This gives the cymbal more clarity and carrying power. These patterns, if done properly, with conviction and confidence, at fast or medium tempos, illustrate the new jazz-rock concept of drumming. When listening to this type of playing, try to break the patterns down and write them out if possible. This helps your playing and your ear as well.
For rock drummers who are truly serious about increasing their ability in this area, I would suggest my own book, Realistic Rock, a thorough study of the field, which starts off simply and progresses in a clear and easy to understand manner.
There are many exciting things happening in the world of modern drumming, and it is my sincere hope that this article has helped you to better understand some of the elements of progressive rock drumming.
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