I remember the first time I heard “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin. I was blown away by the footwork of John Bonham on that song. In this article, we’ll focus on one of Bonham’s foot patterns and play different hand variations on top of it. Here’s the foot ostinato we’ll be using.
Now add quarter-note flams and flat flams on the snare, toms, and crashes.
Spreading out the spacing of a right-hand flam creates two 16th-note-triplet partials, as demonstrated in Exercise 5. Orchestrate the right hand around the toms while maintaining the foot ostinato.
To turn this foot pattern into a groove, play quarter notes with your right hand on a cowbell and a backbeat on beat 3 with your left.
This next example is similar to the beat Bonham plays on the last verse of “Good Times Bad Times.”
The next four examples incorporate four-over-three and three-over-two polyrhythms.
Now try these variations using alternating triplets over the foot ostinato.
Here are a few variations that incorporate 16th notes.
These last two examples add offbeat 16th-note triplets in between the two bass drum triplet partials.
Powell Randolph is a drum teacher at Alpha Music in Virginia Beach and plays rock shows with orchestras around North America for Windborne Music Productions.