One Becomes Seventeen

Simon DringBlog


I did a few dep gigs for a rock and roll trio recently. Most of the rhythmic patterns were quite straightforward, but I still wanted to clearly differentiate between the verses, choruses, bridges etc. Changing the bass and snare parts wasn’t really appropriate, and it got me thinking how I could make a subtle change in different sections using the right hand (of left, for all you left-handed players out there).

Let’s assume we’re sticking to the same simple bass drum and snare part throughout  – bass on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4.

Here are the right-hand options we have on a basic kit:
HH quavers (tight)
HH quavers (looser)
HH quavers (accents on 1,2,3,4)
HH quavers (accents on offbeats)
HH crotchets (tight)
HH crotchets (looser)
HH offbeat quavers
Ride quavers
Ride crotchets
Ride bell quavers
Ride bell crotchets
Ride bell/ride alternating (bell on the beat)
Ride bell/ride alternating (bell off the beat)
Ride and hi-hat alternating – ride on the beat (right hand only)
Ride and hi-hat alternating – hi-hat on the beat (right hand only)
Ride bell and hi-hat alternating – hi-hat on the beat (right hand only)
Ride bell and hi-hat alternating – ride bell on the beat (right hand only)

Notation here: One Becomes Seventeen

That’s 17 different ways of playing the same rhythm, and we haven’t even ventured into anything smaller than a quaver! Nor have we thought of opening/closing the hi-hat at any point, or adding any pedalled notes on the hi-hat.

Next time you think you’ve exhausted all your rhythmic patterns, or you’re stuck choosing what beat fits with a certain song, try these subtle variations. Food for thought?