Advanced Disco

Beyond Four on the Floor

by Rich Redmond

Disco, a style of music popularized in the 1970s, launched dance crazes, drove up record sales, and sometimes caused a lot of frustration among the era’s working drummers. (Some players found the repetitive rhythm to be mind numbing.) Much of today’s music also heavily relies on repetition. Pop, dance, R&B, and even country music make use of strong four-on-the-floor pulses. In this lesson we’ll explore ways to spice up the basic disco feel.


The following hi-hat ostinatos tip a hat to the traditional open/closed disco pattern—we’ll accent or open the hi-hat on the “&” of each beat while closing it on the quarter-note pulse. This gives each groove a strong upbeat pulse or lope.

Disco 1

Practice each hi-hat ostinato with the following twelve bass drum and snare patterns. These bass drum phrases are more syncopated and advanced than a standard four-on-the-floor pattern, and they often fall in between the hi-hat openings. This creates a few interesting coordination challenges. The key is to practice these exercises slowly, and then gradually build up speed. Focus on making them sound and feel as comfortable as possible. Enjoy the hustle!

Disco 2

Disco 3

Disco 4

Rich Redmond drums for country star Jason Aldean, is an award-winning clinician, and is an active session drummer in Nashville and Los Angeles. His recent book/DVD, FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids (coauthored with Michael Aubrecht), is available through Modern Drummer Publications.