The following one-bar patterns demonstrate combinations of accented three-note groupings using 16th-note and 16th-note-triplet subdivisions. Throughout this lesson, we’ll vary the accent placements and rhythmic combinations to create unique exercises and phrases.

When applying accents to most 16th-note patterns, we often tend to accent the beginning of each beat.

Instead of accenting every fourth 16th note, we can vary the subdivision so that accented three-note groupings can fit easily within the measure.

First let’s vary the subdivision. In Exercise 2, we’ll play 16th notes on beats 1, 2, and 3 and a sextuplet on beat 4.

Next apply an accent to every third note using an alternating sticking.

Let’s vary this pattern by shifting the 16th-note triplets to the “&” of beat 2.

And finally, let’s start the sextuplet on beat 1.

Once you’re comfortable with these phrases, check out the following ways to creatively apply hand and foot orchestrations to these patterns on the drumset. The following combinations accent every third 16th note or 16th-note-triplet partial. We’ll start out by voicing these exercises with only the bass drum and snare before we incorporate the hi-hat. Dig into these simple patterns, and make them groove.


Rick Gratton is a Grammy-nominated drummer who has recorded or performed with R&B great Patti LaBelle, singer/actor Dan Aykroyd, and Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, among many others. He’s the author of the popular book Rick’s Licks and is an active graphic designer for Hudson Music.