The quarter-note hi-hat style has a distinctive sound and feel that makes it well worth the extra effort required to perfect it. I first heard this style played by Clyde Stubblefield on James Brown’s recording of “Mother Popcorn,” and many of the following rhythms are based on Clyde’s work.
A new type of coordination must be developed for the quarternote style, because we can no longer rely on the familiar, steady 8th-note hi-hat pattern. It is really easier to play two limbs at the same time than it is to play them separately. In the quarter-note style, much of the work is done by the left hand and right foot playing separately, without the reinforcement of the right hand on the hi-hat. This presents a new challenge.
The quarter-note style is used in medium-slow to fast rock and funk (quarter note = 96-160). Make sure that the backbeats are still solid and accurate, and observe all snare drum accents carefully. Accented notes should be played at ff; unaccented notes should be played much softer, alp.
Basic Quarter-Note Hi-Hat Rhythms
Exercises For Developing Quarter-Note Hi-Hat Coordination
Intermediate Quarter-Note Hi-Hat Rhythms
Advanced Exercises For Developing Quarter-Note Hi-Hat Coordination—Patterns Of Three 16th Notes
There are 16 16th-notes in a measure of 4/4 time. Note how the following grouping in exercise 15 adds up to 16 16th-notes. 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 1 = 16. Grouping 16ths in threes creates a temporary internal rhythm of 3 against 4. In the first three beats, there are three hi-hat notes against four bass drum notes. This gives the rhythm a special feeling.
Advanced Quarter-Note Hi-Hat Rhythms