School of Drums
Eighth Rock Variations
In another lesson we will discover nearly 4.3 billion variations (permutations) of the eighth 4/4 rock beat. Before we do that though, it might be a good idea to step a little slower. We'll get your feet wet with a couple of the (*more simple?) and more popular variations of rock, in this lesson.
*You may not find them to be all that simple! Most students
experience problems, getting these up to speed. Don't freak if you have trouble with them. It's a part
of the growing process. It isn't at all uncommon for even the best students to need several weeks,
getting up to snuff on these patterns. Do not be too hard on yourself here. Move on to a different
topic completely and return later, if they give you unexpected trouble.
The truth is, these beats we are about to learn are by far the most useful and most common.
If you do NOT hear some form of these two beats in the music playing around you every day, it only means one thing.
You aren't really listening!
Learn to focus deeper on the drums within every recording. Try to recognize these
rhythms as they occur in various songs. You'll even be hearing them as the background rhythm in many
of the commercials on tv. They're everywhere!
NOTE: Though there are technically more than 4.3 billion (potential) other variations of the 8th rock 4/4,
beat pattern, most have gone pretty much unused. These are the ones that recur over and over again. As we
add a few snare or bass syncs (to be studied in future lessons), they will slowly ignite. Most of the
really popular, and really 'hot' 8th rock drum beats, tend to be related, in some way, to these. Master them, eventually!
Pop music trends between the 1960's and the current time, have pretty much utilized the same handful of beat patterns, over and over again, in song after song. What's more . . . Most of those beat patterns can be traced back to these two (simple?) beat patterns. I call these beats, 'The Primary Rock Variations', but they have been called many things over the years. Terms like 'Fatback', 'Funk', 'Rap', 'Soul', 'Hip Hop', and even 'Boogaloo', all refer to different combinations, and forms of these beats.
This type of study is sometimes referred to (by some teachers and some methods) as limb 'Independence'. Whatever terms we
prefer; These beats, and these techniques, are extremely important to all serious students of drumming.
They are really the foundation or cornerstones of the entire rock era. Learn to play them rapidly and comfortably, then learn to combine them in various ways. Soon after, you will find yourself playing along, note for note with the drummer on any '8th rock' song. Also, if you fire up a little imagination, they can be used as an awesome drum solo when played without music.
So what are we waiting for? Let's do it!
Primary Rock Variations
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the above 8th rock variation video.
VIDEO: Click here to 'Play', see, and hear the above 8th rock variation video. Be sure to play these patterns in a STEADY, repetitious
fashion, though the video may pause at the end of each loop.
The faster you can play these the better . . . and it probably CAN'T BE DONE IN 5 MINUTES . . . (so sue me, haha.) You should devote 20 to 30 minutes to each beat, building speed and instant recall. Be able to play either of these beats on command . . . think of the beat . . . then play it. Next, try changing from one beat to the other without stopping or breaking time.
The hardest part is the first few minutes with each pattern. After you get up to speed, you will recognize them as beats you have heard in a million songs, and they will slowly start to cook.
Add a few rolls or fill patterns and bingo you will be a 'hot' rock drummer.
EIGHTH ROCK SYNCOPATIONS If you are ready to move ahead with my lessons, then lets get 'funky' with eighth rock syncopations!
You are about ready for the heavy stuff (syncopations) and you may proceed if you wish, but remember that it takes time to digest information of this sort. I would suggest a little break here.
Practice each of these beats until you can play them rapidly and smoothly from memory. It isn't necessary to practice at the drumset. Tap them out where ever you may be as you go through your day. You should learn to practice as you watch tv, or while at school, work or just riding in your auto. Anytime you have an idle moment, use it to perfect the boring, mundane routines. Then, when you get behind a drumset you can have a great time playing song after song.
If you experience problems with these . . . DO NOT PANIC. Play along with more music, using simpler forms
of 8th rock. As you continue to jam with music for fun . . . it will eventually just happen. One day soon, you'll
be playing a song (using a simpler form of 8th rock) . . . and as you listen deeper into the music, you'll
realize that these patterns are in play. Half the trick to learning to play them, is in RECOGNIZING them, as they
are being used in a song. It'll come natural . . . as you play along with enough music.