Introduction

This online book is about linear drumming. It explains what linear drumming is and describes different ways to get started with it. Here you will find many patterns, drum fills and exercises (in the form of etudes, 4-measure-exercises and solo's). Before starting with linear patterns it is assumed you already have an intermediate to advanced drum level.

Table Of Contents: Book Sections And Chapters

Chapters consist of different sections:

  • Prepartion
  • Patterns
  • Fills

The Preparation section contains exercises to prepare you for the whole chapter. These are mainly exercises between snare drum and bass drum. From there on, you can go to the Patterns section, wich contain patterns between hi-hat, snare drum and bass drum. The Fills section is made of linear drum fills around the kit.

How To Use This Book

If you are new to the concept of linear drumming, the best way to get the most of this book is to start at the beginning and work your way through the end. You would ideally begin with the Quarter Notes chapter, starting out with the Preparation section, followed by the Patterns and Fills section. Then, you would go to the Quarter Notes And Eight Notes chapter and practice the exercises presented in that chapter. And so on ...

More advanced players can start wherever they want, there is enough material to learn from!

  • Quarter Notes + Eighth Notes
    • Preparation
    • Patterns
    • Fills
  • Eighth Notes + Sixteenth Notes
    • Preparation
    • Patterns
    • Fills
  • Sixteenth Note Triplets
    • Preparation
    • Patterns
    • Fills
  • Thirty-second Notes
    • Preparation
    • Patterns
    • Fills

What Is Linear Drumming?

A drum pattern is linear when each note in a fill or beat is struck separately. So, in other words, you never play two notes simultaneously. This goes for both hands and feet, if you strike the bass drum, you don't strike hi-hat nor cymbal at the same time.
Note: within a groove, you don't always have to strike the drums separately. If now and then you play two notes simultaneously a beat can be considered as linear.

Basic 4/4 rock pattern
The basic 4/4 rock beat
Linear Drum Pattern Example 6 Linear Drum Pattern Example 7 Linear Drum Pattern Example 8 Linear Drum Pattern Example 9 Linear Drum Pattern Example 10
Linear patterns based on the 4/4 basic groove, notice the 5th pattern, although not all notes are struck seperately, this pattern is to be considered a linear pattern

The basic 4/4 rock groove in the above example is layered, hi-hat plays straight eighth notes, both snare drum and bass drum play eighth notes simultaneously with the hi-hat. Linear drum patterns are not layered, each note in the groove is played one after another. Linear means that you only play one voice of the drum kit at any time.

Why To Learn Linear Drum Patterns

Linear beats are a great way to practice independence, coordination and time. By learning linear patterns you can spice up your drumming and expand your knowledge on how to create a good sounding and unique groove. Starting from a basic rock pattern, you can create many drum grooves and apply them to a variety of styles.

Getting Creative

You can use three methods to get creative with linear drumming:

  • using eighth notes rock beats
  • starting from building blocks
  • beginning from a snare drum rhythm

First Method: Eighth Notes Rock Beats

An easy and rapid way to get creative is to create linear patterns from eighth notes rock grooves. Pick a rock pattern and eliminate any hi-hat note that coincides with a bass drum or snare drum note. This way you are left with an eighth note linear pattern that is relatively easy to play.

Rock Groove 1 Basis Rock Groove 1 Basis Rock Groove 1 Basis
3 Eighth Notes Rock Beats
Linear Pattern Based On Eighth Notes Rock Beat 1 Linear Pattern Based On Eighth Notes Rock Beat 2 Linear Pattern Based On Eighth Notes Rock Beat 3
Linear patterns based on the above eighth notes rock beats

Second Method: Linear Building Blocks

After you have mastered the easier eighth note patterns, try learning a new linear groove by dividing an existing beat into pieces. For example, if you have a 4/4 pattern you can divide it into two 2/4 or four 1/4 measures.

A linear groove that will be divided into building blocks
A Linear Drum Beat
hi-hat plays two eighth notes hi-hat on first eighth note, bass drum on the second snare drum plays first eighth note, bass drum the second one snare drum on first eighth note, bass drum on the second one
The linear drum beat in the example above is divide into four building blocks

You can use the 1/4 building blocks shown beneath to develop your linear drumming. There are two types of building blocks: downbeat and backbeat. The downbeat measures are to be used for beats one and three, the backbeat measures are to be used for beats two and four.
The measures are also divided into rhythmic values: eighth notes and sixteenth notes. To create your own patterns, you can choose two backbeat and downbeat measures from either section, and mix them together into a drum beat.

Quarter Note Building Blocks

Downbeat
bass drum plays two eighth notes bass drum plays first eighth note, hi-hat the second eighth note
Backbeat
snare drum plays two eighth notes

Eighth Note Building Blocks

Downbeat
bass drum plays two eighth notes bass drum plays first eighth note, hi-hat the second eighth note hi-hat plays first eighth note, bass drum the second eighth note hi-hat plays two eighth notes
Backbeat
snare drum plays first eighth note, hi-hat the second eighth note snare drum plays first eighth note, bass drum the second eighth note snare drum plays two eighth notes

Sixteenth Note Building Blocks

Downbeat
bass drum on first two sixteenth notes, followed by eighth note rest bass drum on first sixteenth note, snare drum on second, followed by eighth note rest hi-hat on first two sixteenth notes, followed by eighth note rest bass drum on first sixteenth note, hi-hat on second, followed by eighth note rest hi-hat on first sixteenth note, bass drum on second, followed by eighth note rest hi-hat on first sixteenth note, snare drum on second, followed by eighth note rest
Backbeat
snare on first sixteenth note, bass drum on second, followed by eighth note rest snare drum on first sixteenth note, hi-hat on the second sixteenth note, followed by eighth note rest snare on first two sixteenth notes, followed by eighth note rest
Downbeat
bass drum plays a dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note bass drum plays a dotted eighth note, hi-hat a sixteenth note hi-hat plays a dotted eighth note, bass drum a sixteenth note hi-hat plays a dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note
Backbeat
snare plays a dotted eighth note, bass drum a sixteenth note snare drum plays a dotted eighth note, hi-hat a sixteenth note snare drum plays a dotted eighth note and a sixteenth note
Downbeat
sixteenth note rest followed by a bass drum sixteenth note and eighth note sixteenth note rest followed by a snare drum sixteenth note and bass drum eighth note sixteenth note rest followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note and eighth note sixteenth note rest followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum eighth note sixteenth note rest followed by a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat eighth note sixteenth note rest followed by a snare drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat eighth note
No backbeats for section 3
Downbeat
sixteenth note rest, bass drum eighth note and sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, snare drum eighth note and bass drum sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, hi-hat eighth note and sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, bass drum eighth note and hi-hat sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, hi-hat eighth note and bass drum sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, snare drum eighth note and hi-hat sixteenth note
This section has no backbeats
Downbeat
eighth note rest and two bass drum sixteenth notes eighth note rest and two hi-hat sixteenth notes eighth note rest, a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note eighth note rest, a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note
Section 5 has no backbeats
Downbeat
two hi-hat sixteenth notes joined to a hi-hat eighth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note joined to a hi-hat eighth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and a snare drum sixteenth note joined to a hi-hat eighth note two bass drum sixteenth notes joined to an eighth note bass drum a bass drum sixteenth note and a snare drum sixteenth note joined to an eighth note bass drum two hi-hat sixteenth notes joined to an eighth note bass drum a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note joined to a hi-hat eighth note a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note joined to a bass drum eighth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and a snare drum sixteenth note joined to a bass drum eighth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note joined to a bass drum eighth note two bass drum sixteenth notes joined to an eighth note hi-hat
Backbeat
a snare drum sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note joined to a bass drum eighth note two snare drum sixteenth notes joined to a snare drum eighth note a snare drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note joined to a hi-hat eighth note a snare drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note joined to a bass drum eighth note a snare drum sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note joined to a hi-hat eighth note a snare drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note joined to an eighth note snare drum two snare drum sixteenth notes joined to a hi-hat eighth note two snare drum sixteenth notes joined to a bass drum eighth note
Downbeat
a hi-hat sixteenth note, eighth note and sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note, a hi-hat eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and bass drum eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and bass drum eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note and a bass drum eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note, a hi-hat eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note, eighth note and sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note, a snare drum eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and snare drum eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a hi-hat sixteenth note and snare drum eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a bass drum sixteenth note, a snare drum eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note
Backbeat
a snare drum sixteenth note, a bass drum eighth note and sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note, eighthh note and sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note and hi-hat eighth note and sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note, a bass drum eighth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note, a hi-hat eighth note and a bass drum sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note and eighth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note, a hi-hat eighth note followed by a snare drum sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note, a bass drum eighth note followed by a snare drum sixteenth note a snare drum sixteenth note and eighth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note
Downbeat
hi-hat plays an eighth note followed by two hi-hat sixteenth notes bass drum plays an eighth note, hi-hat two sixteenth notes hi-hat plays an eighth note, bass drum plays a sixteenth note and once again a hi-hat sixteenth note a hi-hat eighth note followed by a sixteenth note hi-hat and bass drum bass drum plays an eighth note, a sixteenth note and hi-hat a sixteenth note bass drum plays an eighth note, hi-hat a sixteenth note and again a sixteenth note bass drum a hi-hat eighth note followed by two bass drum sixteenth notes a bass drum eighth note follower by two bass drum sixteenth notes
Backbeat
a snare drum eighth note, two bass drum sixteenth notes a snare drum eighth note and two snare drum sixteenth notes a snare drum eighth note and sixteenth note followed by a bass drum sixteenth note a snare drum eighth note, a bass drum sixteenth note followed by a snare drum sixteenth note a snare drum eighth note and two hi-hat sixteenth notes a snare drum eighth note, a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note a snare drum eighth note, a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note a snare drum eighth note and sixteenth note followed by a hi-hat sixteenth note a snare drum eighth note, a hi-hat eighth note followed by a snare drum sixteenth note
Downbeat
sixteenth note rest and three hi-hat sixteenth notes sixteenth note rest and three bass drum sixteenth notes sixteenth note rest, a snare drum sixteenth note and two bass drum sixteenth notes sixteenth note rest, a snare drum sixteenth note and two hi-hat sixteenth notes sixteenth note rest, a bass drum sixteenth note and hi-hat sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, a hi-hat sixteenth note and bass drum sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, a bass drum sixteenth note and two hi-hat sixteenth notes sixteenth note rest, a hi-hat sixteenth note, a bass drum sixteenth note and a hi-hat sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, two hi-hat sixteenth notes and a hi-hat sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, a bass drum sixteenth note, a hi-hat sixteenth note and a bass drum sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, two bass drum sixteenth notes and a hi-hat sixteenth note sixteenth note rest, a hi-hat sixteenth note and two bass drum sixteenth notes
Section 9 has no backbeats

Third Method: Starting From A Snare Drum Rhythm

Another great way to start practicing a pattern is to play all notes on the snare drum. This way you can get familiar with the overall rhythm of the pattern. Next, play all hi-hat notes on the snare drum and play the bass drum notes as written. Once you have memorized the pattern, play the pattern as written, playing the left hand on the hi-hat and alternating right hand between hi-hat and snare. Apply different sticking patterns to the groove, choose the one that feels comfortable to you.
Steps in learning a new linear groove:

  • play the groove on the snare drum
  • play bass drum as written
  • play the groove as written
  • experiment with sticking patterns
Linear Drum Groove Example 1
Linear pattern
Linear Drum Groove On Snare Drum Linear Drum Groove On Snare Drum And Bass Drum Linear Drum Groove With A Particular Sticking Linear Drum Groove With A Particular Sticking
Play hi-hat on snare drum first, add bass drum, and use different stickings

Linear Drum Grooves: Practice Material

If you have played all exercises in this book you can test your linear drumming abilities by playing the provided linear drum patterns. These patterns are divided into four sections:

Each section contains many lessons which have between 8 to 32 patterns. First, play them as written and repeat each pattern multiple times. If you feel comfortable in playing the pattern, experiment with dynamics, vary the volume of certain notes; add ghost notes and accents on hi-hat and snare drum.
Try various sticking patterns, use one that feels natural to you.
I strongly advise on using a metronome, this ensures you're playing in time. Start at a slow tempo and gradually bring it up.

The four sections are built around the same snare drum and bass drum pattern. The only difference between the sections are the hi-hat variations. In playing these patterns you can experience how important the hi-hat is in a linear groove; change the hi-hat a little bit and you get a totally different groove.

Basic 4/4 rock pattern
Regular layered rock beat
Linear Drum Groove Example 1 Linear Drum Groove Example 2 Linear Drum Groove Example 3 Linear Drum Groove Example 4
Four linear grooves based on the 4/4 rock beat. All grooves sound very different due to the hi-hat.