Coming up with beats.

Bobbytard

Member
Hey all! I've got a problem and have had it aslong I've been playing the drumz.

I find it REALLY hard to come up with interresting and good beats. I regularly play with a guitarist friend of mine that have been playing guitar all his life and he's really good.

But the thing is when he starts to play I only come up with the most basic and boring beats. I find it really hard to come up with different foot patterns. The hands work fine with some ghost notes and splashes. My feet just screams simplicity!

Anyone else that has/had this problem?
What can I do to change this?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm trying to start a movement here. Please remove the word boring from your vocabulary. It is the single most damaging thought a drummer can have, to think that they're boring. YOU ARE NEVER BORING! Please accept that truth and never utter or even think of the B word again. Why do you resist that which comes naturally? Embrace what comes naturally. Then build upon it. Start simple and keep adding. Simple is a great starting point.

The thing is to fully embrace what naturally comes out of you. Then keep refining, refining, refining. Adding and subtracting. As you play the songs more, the spaces that can be refined will reveal themselves to you and it should be a natural progression. Learn to accept what comes naturally, it's what your body wants. Don't let your mind sabotage what you naturally want to do. Your mind can be your biggest obstacle. You need to work with, not against, your own natural inclinations. Accept yourself fully, and make no apologies.
 

AndyMC

Senior Member
Playing latin and jazz can help you get away from the I always play the same beat feeling, and there really are 3 main bass drum patterns that make up the basis for most beats. Either steady quarters, 1 and 3, or 1 + and 3 +. Then its just combinations and embellishments so don't worry too much about it, and work through some bass independence exercises for those embellishments.
 

B-squared

Silver Member
I'm trying to start a movement here. Please remove the word boring from your vocabulary. It is the single most damaging thought a drummer can have, to think that they're boring. YOU ARE NEVER BORING! Please accept that truth and never utter or even think of the B word again. Why do you resist that which comes naturally? Embrace what comes naturally. Then build upon it. Start simple and keep adding. Simple is a great starting point.
There is a lot of truth to this. Simple doesn't mean "lacking feeling". You can take something simple and make it sound upbeat, relaxed, loud, soft, etc. Some songs can sound better with a little more syncopation from the bass drum, but those songs stand out only if you surround them with simpler stuff. If you play everything "busy", you are going to sound - I hate to say this - boring.

For technical answers to the original query, there are many drum books that are loaded with great ride beats. Look at the local music store.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I don't think absence of interestingness is a huge problem. Most of the time it's a positive quality.

A few things to think about:
- When you start playing simple things really well, they will not sound boring to you.
- If you really want to play more notes, do what Larry said and look for things that follow logically from what you are already doing. You may also have to identify one or two technical things to work on to help you do those next logical things.
- Complex things that also sound good come out of a musical need, so listen to a lot of music. A lot of different music. That's where your ideas will come from.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Drummers, when they are starting out, think that the harder something is to play, the better. They see guitarists, who have almost free reign to put notes almost anywhere. Drummers do NOT have that luxury. Total different approach. You cannot compare the two.

Then as drummers play for years and years, they usually start on a simplification process, because at the end of the day....

Simple Works.

It's making something simple feel right, that's where the art is. And it's not too hard. You just have to embrace the notion that sometimes it's easy to make a song feel right. Nothing wrong there.
People think they have to work harder than they are sometimes, and that is detrimental.

Some of times that I drove the band the hardest and it felt the best, I was merely playing quarters on the ride and kick, 2 and 4 on the snare, no hat. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Make the song feel good, that's all you have to do.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
On the "boring" thing:

I agree that no beat/rhythm/etc is in and of itself boring. But, man, playing them sure can be. One of the reasons I concentrated on writing more than on music when I got to L.A. in the late '60s was that I quickly reached the point of "If I have to play this rock beat one more time on one more song with one more group I'm going to go insane!"

Twenty years later I realized that I felt the same way about writing another cop series, or legal drama, or medical show.

For me, constant repetition of anything leads to total boredom.

Except breakfast. Gotta start the day with a toasted everything bagel and coffee, no matter where or when. (But I do hate the process of making that breakfast. Hmm, maybe that's my problem - the process drives me crazy, even when I love the result.)
 

Skinny91

Member
What I was always taught was to write out a basic groove, rewrite the pattern with an extra beat and then do the same thing over and over again until I have around 10 different variations of the same pattern. You'll probably end up coming up with some cool ideas to work with.
 

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
You guys were taught to write?!

Actually, I'm half serious about that. My generation (at least, the drummers I know who are my age) grew up aware of the basic jazz and rock beats and then riffing on them as needed during a performance. Everything we did was both different and the same - simultaneously.

I admit it: I really miss the all-improv, all-the-time world.
 
Maybe your guitar player is the uninteresting one that requires uninteresting beats!! JK, but consider what he's playing on the guitar. Does he play the same type of riffs with the same rhythm in every song? Maybe whatever he writes calls for the same beat, so it might not be your fault really.. just a thought.

Also, listen to John Bonham. His beats are simple and fit both the big open sounds of his drums and the rest of the band. Play what comes naturally, and make small tweaks during practice. Don't try to over complicate your sound or it won't reach an audience or any listeners..unless you're Carter Beauford or something. Simplicity isn't a bad thing. Play with feeling, passion, and good timing, the beats will come by themselves.

If that doesn't work... try playing a verse with the snare on the 1 and 3 instead of on the 2 and 4. You can try different approaches like this, but don't force it.
 
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jafo

Member
Thing is, don't be ashamed of getting some extra instruction from a drumming instructor. It can save you alot of frustration and time. Just find a reputable intstructor in your area and have a conversation with them. Tell them what your goal is and where your sticking point is. This way there's no doubt of why your there and what your looking for out of the lessons or instruction. Above all, be patient with them as they will want to start from a point you may already be famiar with, but they will or should recognise this and things should move along quicker then with a green student.

You can also find instruction on the internet but my preference is with a local instructor.
 

sbowman128675

Senior Member
Its funny, some of the posts here, because I went through that "smiplification" thing too. Honestly, two great drummers to listen to are Chad Smith and Keith Carlock (spelling?).

I, like them, listen to the voicing of what could go over the groove that the guitar or bass is putting out. Then I can get something good to comp over that line. And, most of the time, its a good 4/4 rock beat on 1&3 that works. Especially on my church music team.

What I do is forget the initial beat of the song and go straight to the subdivition. So if its 4/4, I keep that in the back on my mind and focus of the 8ths. Then from there I can hear what the guitar player is doing by singing his notes in rythem to the 8ths, if he adds 16ths in there ill accent those with like a finger snap or something. then once I have that voicing down, then I determine how to break it up between the hats, snare and bass drum.
And, like I said before, It comes down to usualy a 4/4 rock beat. lol.

It takes years of hearing diffrent grooves, times, tempos and styles.

I think I made sence.......????? Iuno. lol

Steve.
 
Very good approach Larry! Drummers should be fueled by passion, feel and emotion. More heart music than brain music...

I'm trying to start a movement here. Please remove the word boring from your vocabulary. It is the single most damaging thought a drummer can have, to think that they're boring. YOU ARE NEVER BORING! Please accept that truth and never utter or even think of the B word again. Why do you resist that which comes naturally? Embrace what comes naturally. Then build upon it. Start simple and keep adding. Simple is a great starting point.

The thing is to fully embrace what naturally comes out of you. Then keep refining, refining, refining. Adding and subtracting. As you play the songs more, the spaces that can be refined will reveal themselves to you and it should be a natural progression. Learn to accept what comes naturally, it's what your body wants. Don't let your mind sabotage what you naturally want to do. Your mind can be your biggest obstacle. You need to work with, not against, your own natural inclinations. Accept yourself fully, and make no apologies.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Maybe your guitar player is the uninteresting one that requires uninteresting beats!! JK, but consider what he's playing on the guitar. Does he play the same type of riffs with the same rhythm in every song?
That's the thing. If the guitarist plays a riff that reminds you of a song it's easy to fall into the beat for that song, which may well be a fairly simple one.

Thing is, when you are jamming one on one with a guitarist, you work out when they are happy or not pretty fast because they smile when you get it right (or terribly wrong). Talk to him? What would he like to hear under his pet riffs? He might want straight time.

For variation, one trick I did in an old band (1980-1!) that would these days be described as alternative. Weird chords and key changes, some time changes, regular changes of feel etc.

My approach was to avoid the most obvious beat - often I'd displace the backbeat, whatever was fun and sounded right. I listened to a lot (probably too much) of Bill Bruford, who has always been big on beat displacement.

Obviously the idea is for the groove to create an effect or mood. It still has to connect with the rest of the music. Back then I'd sometimes make the mistake of being too heady - variations for variations' sake. The result was a lot of confused and bemused audiences - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwzysiIPbtI.

However, this was a band where the vocalist and main songwriter wove rubber snakes into her hair at gigs and once, when we were misbooked at a large, very suburban party, she terrified the partygoers by screaming repeatedly into the microphone ... haha those were the days :)

Now I'm in a lounge group and my playing is very standard. Lots of "boring" beats. Musicians are less likely to criticise a drummer for holding the groove than for disrupting it with pointless fancy carry-on.

Steve Jordan says it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR2uXO8a8QI
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
I find it really hard to come up with different foot patterns [. . .] What can I do to change this?
If you have patterns in your head that you feet can't manage, or you don't feel confident enough to go for without making a mistake during performances then try some exercises that focus solely on the bass drum(s).

For example, if you're playing a standard 1/8th note groove - try playing a 1/16th note paradiddle between the bass and snare - i.e. BSBB SBSS; or, if you're feeling adventurous, paradiddlediddle - BSBBSS BSBBSS etc.

Something to focus on is consistency. Whether it's simple or complicated, if you can lay down a solid groove that can loop and loop and loop - the rest of the band can relax in your capable hands and then the magic will happen . . .

Good luck and have fun.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
all great suggestions so far

to add something ....what you play on your right hand... (or whatever your lead hand is)...can completely change the personality of a groove

take yr average 2 and 4 back beat groove with 8th notes on the hats......and change the 8th note pattern to a broken 16th pattern

something like 1 +a 2 +a 3 +a 4 +a

or 1e+ 2e+ 3e+ 4e+

or 1e a 2e a 3e a 4e a

great way to change things up without really changing the groove
 

jafo

Member
This was one of the things my instructor made me do before we were done. We sat there and I had to come up with different beat patterns from a simple 4/4 drum beat. Thats why I mentioned the instructor idea. It won't take you long to figure it out once you have the basic concept. You have to open your mind to things and don't think if it can be done, make it so. I was taught to not always follow others drumming pattern or to get caught in that rut of wht everybody else is doing but to come up with my own stuff. Thats why I may pick up on certain patterns but it's not long before I try changing things. Sometimes it comes out cool sometimes it sounds like crap. Thats the fun of drumming, possabilities are endless.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
On the "boring" thing:

I agree that no beat/rhythm/etc is in and of itself boring. But, man, playing them sure can be.
This is where I usually say something like....

If you feel boring playing the beat...the problem isn't with the beat. I think you pinpointed the issue.

If you felt excited to play the same beat, you might enjoy it more. You are putting your value on it, which applies only to you. You feel playing the beat is boring, you just said it.

Someone who is maybe not as experienced or jaded might just have a great time with that beat.

This further illustrates the fact that all drumming issues start in the head.
 

choki

Senior Member
Add a bass player to your jam session. It will make it easier to figure out what to do with your bass drum pattern if you have a bass player to work with.
 
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