Learning Rock Beats

eDrumBeats is an online library with a large number of rock beats. These beats are usable in many styles, such as pop, hard rock, grunge, funk, and so on. The library concentrates on rock beats in 4/4 time with a backbeat. This article will guide you on how to master these beats, starting with a basic rock beat.

Once you have finished this article, you are ready to start learning all 20,301 pages of rock beats this website has to offer!

The Standard Rock Rhythm

The first rock beat most drummers learn to play is the basic rock beat, also known as the standard rock rhythm. When you are just learning how to play rock beats, this beat is the place to start!

Standard 4/4 accented rock pattern
The Standard 4/4 Rock Rhythm
Rock Drum Pattern Example Rock Drum Beat Example Rock Drum Rhythm Example
Rock patterns based on the 4/4 standard rock groove

This beat is played in 4/4 time and is easy to play:

  • eighth notes on the hi-hat
  • quarter notes on the snare drum, on the second and fourth beats (also known as the backbeat)
  • quarter notes on the bass drum, on the first and third beats

You can play this beat in many different ways. Keep in mind that in rock drumming, more important than volume is the relative dynamics between each of your drums and cymbals. What you play is less important than how you play it! The bass drum and snare drum should be louder than hi-hat or ride.

Accenting The Hi-hat

Once you can play this beat in a relaxed way, add accents on the downbeat. So, you accent the first, second, third, and fourth beat of the hi-hat. This way, the feel of the beat changes from an eighth note feel to a quarter note feel and adds more groove to the beat. Remember, the hi-hat is very important in making a groove feel good!
Accenting the hi-hat is done by placing an accent on the quarter notes. You can do this by striking the hi-hat on the side, with the shoulder of the drum stick. Play the offbeat eighth notes with the tip of the drum stick, on top of the hi-hat..
At higher tempos, you can either use The Moeller Technique or The Open/Close Technique for accenting the hi-hat. At slower tempos, you can even use the wrist.
Notice that accenting the hi-hat is not always necessary, let the song decide if you apply them or not.

Four Ways In Learning A Rock Beat

You can choose between four different methods to learn any drumbeat on this website. It's up to you to decide which one is best suited for you. You can stick to one system or mix them all up and create your own. Accenting the hi-hat should be the final step in all four methods.

Before You Begin

Before you learn how to play a rock beat, you are assumed to know how to hold the drum stick and how to kick the bass drum. Without proper technique, you will have difficulty playing in time, and your rock beats will sound sloppy. So, first things first, learn the basic hand and foot techniques!

First Method

This method has three steps. We build the pattern from the ground up, starting with the hi-hat. Then we add the snare drum and bass drum. Each step should be played several times, only go to the next step if you are comfortable with the previous one.
In short:

  • start with the hi-hat
  • add the snare drum
  • add the bass drum
Step Description Example Score
1 Play eighth notes on the hi-hat.
Step one: eighth notes
2 Add the backbeat to the hi-hat pattern, play snare drum on beats two and four.
Step two, add backbeat
3 Putting it together: add the bass drum to the hi-hat/snare pattern, play quarter notes on beats one and three.
Step three, the standard rock rhythm

Second Method

This method has one extra step to the previous one. We add the bass drum (without snare) to the hi-hat pattern. This extra step can be helpful to get familiar with the bass drum pattern.

Step Description Example Score
1 Play eighth notes on the hi-hat.
Step one, play eighth notes
2 Add a backbeat to the hi-hat pattern.
Step two, add backbeat to the pattern
3 Add the bass drum to the hi-hat pattern, play quarter notes on beats one and three.
Step three, add the bass drum
4 Putting it together: add bass drum and snare to the hi-hat pattern.
Step four, the standard rock pattern

Third Method

Divide the pattern up into four beats and play them separately. Next, you create two 2/4 patterns from the first two beats and beats three and four. Once you can play both 2/4 beats separately, you combine them into one pattern. If you go through the different steps, don't think too much about tempo or groove. You can address those once you can play the pattern in its whole.

Step Description Example Score
1 Play the first beat
Step one, play first beat
2 Play the second beat
Step two, play second beat
3 Play the first and second beats, this way you're actualy playing a 2/4 pattern
Step three, play beats one and two
4 Play the third beat
Step four, play third beat
5 Play the fourth beat
Step five, play fourth beat
6 Play beats three and four
Step six, play beats three and four
7 Play the whole pattern by combining the two 2/4 patterns
Step seven, play the whole rock beat

Fourth Method

Play the pattern as written. Start ridiculously slow, play note after note. Use a metronome and put it on a very low tempo, let's say 40 bpm. Play each eighth note on a click of the metronome (playing the eighth notes in the beat as quarter notes). As you progress, try to play the beat as written, play eighth notes as eighth notes to the metronome and gradually increase the speed.

Step Description Example Score
1 Play each note separately. Eighth notes become quarter notes.
Play the beat note by note
2 Play as written, but still slowly.
Play as written but very slow
3 Speed up to the desired tempo.
Play normally

Practice Hi-hat Or Ride Variations

Once you can play a rock pattern with the basic eighth-note hi-hat pattern, you can play the beat with some hi-hat or ride cymbal variations. Each beat on this website contains a 'Related' button, which redirects you to a page with hi-hat/ride variations to that pattern. You will find linear drumming, paradiddle, and fusion and funk variations. Learning these patterns will expand your drumming vocabulary and will take your drumming to the next level. You will be amazed at how a basic drum beat can turn in an advanced drum pattern just by changing the hi-hat or cymbals!

The Finishing Touch - Rock Feel

In theory, a rock feel consists of emphasizing the first note of each measure by accenting the first hi-hat and bass drum notes slightly more than the other accented notes. In practice, however, this is not always the case. It depends on the type of rock song you're playing and if the accent fits the groove or tune of the song. Try to experiment with the accented and non-accented variations.
To create a big rock sound, the hi-hat and ride should be relatively soft, and bass drum and snare should be louder.

Play-Along Tracks For Drums

Too realy understand how you can apply a drum beat musically, you should consider using drum play-along tracks. Playing with existing drumless backing tracks will help you

  • in playing time
  • developing groove
  • hook up with the other musicians
  • in being creative

And above all, play-along tracks are a fun way to practice!