Build a Beat!

A Step-by-Step Approach to Creating Interesting Grooves

by Rich Redmond

Over the years, my experiences as a teacher have taught me to always start simply. I like to build a strong foundation with a student before increasing the level of complexity. After all, you have to bake a cake and make it taste great by itself before adding the frosting or sprinkles.

When it comes to building drumbeats, I usually start with a basic rock/pop feel with 8th notes on the hi-hat and 2-and-4 backbeats on the snare. This serves as our foundation (the cake), which we slowly add to with bass drum syncopations, extra subdivisions on the hi-hat and snare, and open notes on the hi-hat (the frosting). The later variations make use of the toms and take on an almost linear feel, meaning that no two limbs strike simultaneously. Using this basic build-a-beat method, you can create millions of rhythmic and sonic variations. Get going!

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.