Rock Perspectives

Ride Rhythm Independence

by Bill Charmelo

Traditionally, drummers have used the bass and snare drum to execute independent yet interacting rhythms. The ride rhythm, whether played on the ride cymbal or hi-hat, usually was a repetitive steady rhythm, filling in holes and making everything jell.

However, jazz drummers — and more recently rock drummers — have become proficient in developing an independent feeling in the cymbal ride rhythms. These cymbal patterns are improvised independent rhythms, intermeshing with the bass and snare and adding to the complex counter-rhythmical quality.

To develop an independent ride rhythm hand, you must first concentrate on breaking the habit of playing only one or two repetitive rhythms continually. A good way to accomplish this is to practice playing as many different ride rhythms as possible with numerous and varied snare and bass patterns. Here are some examples of a variety of rhythms:

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Try playing all of the bass and snare patterns you can with the first ride rhythm, moving on to the second, third, etc., as each is mastered. Remember to start simply, and slowly, gradually advancing to the more complex patterns.

The bass and snare rhythms below are graduated in the manner I have just described. Try working these rhythms out with each of the ride cymbal patterns above.

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Now try varying the ride rhythms so it works well with, or against, the bass and snare patterns.

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Here are a few exercises showing how the ride rhythm can be changed from count to count and measure to measure, just as the bass and snare patterns change. The examples below are somewhat complex, and should be worked out both carefully and slowly.

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When you have gained some degree of facility with these exercises, experiment writing and playing your own individual patterns. Soon you will develop the ability to fully improvise your cymbal patterns while coordinating complex bass and snare drum rhythmic figures.