Learning Rock Beats

eDrumBeats has a big library of rock beats. These beats can be used in many styles; 'rock' is just an overall name for different styles like pop, hard rock, grunge, funk and so on. For now, the library concentrates on rock beats in 4/4 time wich have a backbeat. This article will guide you on how to learn the beats on this website, starting out with the most basic rock beat.

The Standard Rock Rhythm

The first rock beat most drummers learn to play is the basic rock pattern, also known as the standard rock rhythm for drumset.
Learning this beat is a very good place to start if you are just learning how to play the drums.

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 hi-hat
  • quarter notes on snare drum, on the second and fourth beats (this is also know as the backbeat)
  • quarter notes on 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 as 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 try adding accents on the down beat, so you accent the first, second, third and fourth beat of the hi-hat. This changes the beat from an eighth note feel to a quarter note feel and adds more groove to the beat. To spice it up even a little more play a rim shot (hitting the rim and the snare on the same time) on the snare. Remember, the hi-hat pattern is very important in making a groove feel good. A common way in accenting the hi-hat is to accent the quarter notes with the shoulder of the stick on the side of the hi-hat, and playing the offbeat eighth notes with the tip 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 drum beat on this website. It's up to you to decide which one is best suited for you. You can stick to one method 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 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 patten, 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 helpfull to get familiar with the bass drum pattern.

Step Description Example Score
1 Play eighth notes on hi-hat
Step one, play eighth notes
2 Add a backbeat to the hi-hat patten
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 all beats seperately. If beats one and three, and beats two and four are different, you should add 2 more steps (for beats three and four) to this method. Next, you create 2/4 patterns from beats one and two, beats two and three, and beats three and four. This example shows how the method works when beats three and four are the same as beats one and two.

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 both beats
4 Repeat: play the 2/4 pattern twice, resulting into the 4/4 standard pattern
Step four, repeat first two beats

Fourth Method

Play the pattern as written. Start out rediculously 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, so, the eighth notes in the beat will be played 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 cymball variations. Each beat on this website contains a 'Related' button wich 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 you drumming vocabulary and will take your drumming to the next level. You will be amazed on 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 emphasing the first note of each measure, this means you should accent the first hi-hat and bass drum note slightly more than the other accented notes. In practise however this is not always the case, it realy 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 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 very fun way to practice!