Have you recently started playing the drums? Do you want to know better how to start learning to play the drums and conquer the most common drum lines?
The drum groove or beat is a rhythmic pattern you play to the music that keeps time. Learning drums requires time, patience, and practice, and first of all, it requires building the key foundations and knowing and mastering the common drum lines.
These foundational skills should be prioritized when you first start playing. By learning them you’ll be practicing coordination and timing skills.
15 Common Drum Lines
As a drummer, you are the engine of the group, the key element to assure that everyone starts and ends on time and that nobody goes faster or slower.
As a beginner is common to wonder what the common drum beats will allow you to play like a professional and become a competent and skilled player. You need to know how to play different beats that are commonly used across all musical styles, as the best drummers are versatile.
Here we have compiled the 15 Top Common Drum Lines, explaining what they are and how to play them. They vary in difficulty, but all of them are very important.
1. Standard 8th Note Groove
Here is the first and most important drum beat that everyone learns when start playing drums. Knowing how to play a simple eighth-note rhythm is crucial for any drummer. Most popular music has eighth-note drum beats, whether it’s pop, blues, rock, or metal.
How does this drumbeat work? In a standard music sheet, you will find four beats. In this measure, the bass drum is played on the first beat and the third beat of the song. In the second half and the fourth, the snare drum is played.
Start by playing this pattern with just the bass and snare. Once you have that figured out, it’s time to add the hi-hat notes. The hi-hats will use eighth notes, which will hold the entire drum beat together like glue. The hi-hat will be played each time the snare and bass drum is played, as well as between each of those beats.
2. Four To The Floor
This will be the most basic groove and it’s one of the most effective. This is the groove to master if you want to get into pop, funk, and disco drums. In the four on the floor. Instead of just playing the bass drum on beats 1 and 3, the bass drum is now played on all 4 beats.
3. Shuffle Groove
This drum beat keeps the same bass and snare rhythm as the Standard 8th note groove and the Four to the floor, but it uses a unique cymbal pattern known as a “shuffle” to set it apart, and it’s the first drum beat most blues drummers learn. If you have ever listened to blues music, there is no doubt that you have heard this drum beat.
This cymbal pattern uses a triplet rhythm to create a bouncing feeling known as a shuffle, and the shuffle cymbal pattern allows drummers to play three notes in the span of two-quarter notes.
4. 16th Note Groove
Once you feel comfortable with eighth notes, it’s time to divide the rhythm even more. The 16th note groove is the one that can be heard in R&B, classic rock, and hip hop It’s a very upbeat drum beat as it fits twice as many hi-hat notes in every four bars compared to the eighth note drum beat.
Expert Tip: It is always recommendable to practice a lot to gain muscle resistance because it requires a lot of resistance to be played.
5. 12/8 Groove
The 12/8 groove is often used in ballads, blues, and slow rock melodies. Drummers learn to play this drum rhythm with an element of control and subtlety, and they usually use the ride cymbal or the hi-hat to play three beats of each brass drum and snare hit.
In the beginning, it may seem confusing, but with practice everything makes sense. The 12/8 groove is a beat for which it is especially important to play dynamically, meaning to be able to play softly as well as loudly.
6. Motown Groove
At the beginning of the 1960s decade, the Motown record label produced some of the best-selling singles and albums in popular music. Great examples that everyone knows are Marvin Gaye, the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, and the Supremes, just to mention some of them.
Motown was such a hits factory that it even ended up creating its own drum beat, which was a revamp of the standard eighth-note beat.
Instead of keeping the snare exclusively on beats 2 and 4, the Motown drum beat has a snare on all beats. Like the four on the floor drum beat, this unique version of the 8th note drum beat helps drive the song forward.
7. Reggae Groove
The best part of the reggae grooves is that they are usually very easy to play. But not being easy is less important, and the reggae groove is one of the most influential drum beats and it is known as “one-drop”. In the reggae groove, the bass drum and snare are only played once every four beats.
8. Disco Groove
There’s nothing that can get a party going like the beat of disco music. Also, the great advantage, is that you don’t have to be a great drummer to learn how to play it. Disco drum beats use what is called “offbeats,” where the emphasis of the beat is on the eighth notes between the bass drum and snare hits.
You will play the bass drum on all quarter notes and the snare on 2 and 4. The hi-hat will receive choruses and will often be opened on the offbeat using the pedal. Opening and closing the hi-hat is a unique way to add a bit of variety to the drum beats.
9. Jazz Ostinato
This is a more complex drum beat, and it is better to start with it as soon as you feel comfortable with the previous lines described, before trying this one out, as it requires more control. As you probably know, jazz is a musical gender in which the musicians have the freedom to improvise and show their capabilities.
When the drum is playing a jazz ostinato, it allows the rest of the bad to play with as much freedom as ever.
The ostinato jazz drum rhythm uses a swing groove and is often played with the ride cymbal. The bass drum plays on every beat, although it is often played so softly that it can be felt, not necessarily heard. Jazz drummers often refer to the technique of hitting the kick drum this lightly as “feathering.”
Most of the time, drummers use the hi-hat to keep time when playing the jazz ostinato, gently pressing the hi-hat pedal on 2 and 4. The sound should be consistent enough to keep the rest of the band on time.
Once you have the bass drum and the notes from the hi-hat placed, we will focus on the most difficult part, the snare drum. In the Jazz ostinato drum, the rhythms of the snare drum can vary, and drummers usually use ghost notes to fill the intermediate times with silent and soft snare drum sounds.
10. Half-Time Shuffle
It is probably the most difficult of all the drum lines on this list. The half-time shuffle is very similar to the normal shuffle, although drummers play it at halftime. This iconic beat has been popularized by some of the world’s greatest drummers including Phil Collins of Genesis, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and Bernard Purdie of Steely Dan.
The idea with this groove is to fill in the spaces between hi-hat notes with quiet snare hits known as “ghost notes”. So, this drum line will develop your hi-hat technique as well as your ability to play ghost notes.
11. Train Beat
One of the most used drum beats in country music is the train beat, which is meant to emulate the sound of a moving train. Besides country songs, it is also used in indie songs. Country music originated in the south of the United States in the 1920s. During its formation, the style was influenced by folk and blues music.
Beginning, Country music didn’t feature drummers until the mid-1930s and early 1940s because they were considered to be too loud. By the 1960s, drummers were finally considered a regular and important part of the country music sound.
Expert Tip: The Train Beat it’s a driving pattern on the snare drum that combines ghost notes and accents. The softer the ghost notes are, the more effective the accents will sound. Country drummers will often play train beats with brushes instead of drumsticks.
12. Bossa Nova
Latin America, particularly Cuba and Brazil, has brought many challenging but also outstanding rhythmic concepts to popular music. The easier and lighter style is the Brazilian bossa nova style. It combines jazz harmonic and melodic approaches with samba rhythms, and it can be played with only a guitar, vocals, and pandeiro, which is the Brazilian tambourine.
One of its concepts is the use of the clave, which describes how tenses are organized in time. The clave in this rhythm is the feeling of tension and release. A clave rhythm is played by the cross stick. The variation on the bossa nova clave is limited but fills and transitions to other drums are often followed by a simple variation.
The drumbeat of samba is very energetic and lively, although it is not at all very complicated. The idea of this particular drumbeat is to make it easy for people. In many ways, the samba rhythm has a very similar sound to bossa nova.
Most samba drum beats are felt in 2, which means there are two strong beats in each measure. Drummers will use the bass drum to accentuate these main beats and drive the song forward. You can then use an 8th note pattern for hi-hats with your hand or an 8th note pattern with your foot to create a backbeat to keep time.
The snare drum is where you need to pay attention, as samba drummers are often seen playing the cross stick with their left hand to outline the percussive rhythms.
The Soca is an African-influenced groove. Soca music started to develop in the 1970s in Trinidad and Tobago and it is the staple of that country’s music scene.
Most Soca grooves are played at very high tempos. The Soca groove uses a bass drum groove four deep and hi-hats that sit on the first three sixteenth notes of each beat before opening on the fourth beat. The constant offbeat snare keeps it driving along with the four-on-the-floor bass drum pattern.
You can play varying hi-hat patterns to keep it attractive. The rhythm of Soca is like a disco in its hi-hat syncopation, but often has a complex bass-sound pattern that makes it more intense, but still very easy to repeat. It is not the best rhythm for beginners, but you can start playing it very slowly to get familiar with it.
15. Heavy Rock Beat
This musical style began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and it is a style of rock music that was darker and heavier than before. Almost all beginners will eventually learn this beat, as it makes their drumming more interesting. It develops the drummer’s ability to play offbeat snare notes.
Expert Tip: The most important elements of rock drumming are the bass drum and the snare drum. In most rock songs, the snare drum is played on beats two and four. These are called the backbeats.
The double bass is one of the most essential elements of metal drumming. Double bass can be played with two separate single bass drum pedals attached to two separate bass drums, or with a double bass drum pedal attached to one bass drum.
What Is The Most Famous Drum Riff?
A riff is related to guitars, even though it’s used by drummers. The difference between a lick and a riff is that a riff is also a melodic repeated pattern of notes and also chords, which you can’t do with drums.
There are many great drum breaks of all time, like the Funky Drummer (James Brown), The Big Beat (Billy Squier), and When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin), but the drum break that has been sampled thousands of times in popular music is the Amen Break, being used in thousands of tracks of many genres.
The Amen Break comes from the 1969 track “Amen, Brother” on the B Side by the funk and soul band The Winstons, and was originally performed by Gregory C. Coleman. This 6-second drum beat has been sampled for over 30 years, for example in the 1980s the break was widely sampled by hip hop music, and in the 1990s, it became a staple of drum and bass.
There are many theories regarding why the Amen Break is so popular, and one that is particularly interesting is the one that compares the Amen Break to The Golden Ratio.
The Golden Ratio, also known as the golden section, golden mean, or divine proportion is a mathematical ratio, commonly found in nature, that fosters organic and natural-looking compositions that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This harmony and proportion have been recognized for thousands of centuries.
The Maths teacher Michael S. Schneider studied the waveform of the Amen Break and after measuring the distances between the peaks of the waves found that they formed Golden Ratios. The Amen Break has been used by many artists including Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, N.W.A, The Prodigy, Chase & Status, and Oasis among others.
Things To Consider
Any beginner drummer who wants to be serious about learning to play the drums, to be versatile and competent with drum rhythms should learn and master these popular and fundamental drumming lines and be familiar with them.
The list that you can find in this article is a summary of the most common drumming beats that drummers must be familiar with to perform almost any song with any group.
Working on your timing is the most important aspect of being a great drummer and mastering these common drum lines is the starting point to becoming a proficient drummer, and they help you expand your capabilities to play almost any music style.
While every style, say pop-rock styles, swing or shuffles, or Latin rhythms, has its own characteristics, there are enough similarities within the drum beats to be able to transfer skills from one to the other.
Expert Tip: Keep in mind that the fundamentals are universal, but every musician can add their touches and personal style to them, and there are endless drum beats in the world, meaning that musicians and drummers are thinking and creating different new types of beats every day.
What is a typical drum pattern?
Drum rhythms are the foundation of many musical styles. Rhythm is typically the distinguishing element of a specific musical style, and it may reveal a lot about the culture and emotion of music.
Finding the appropriate drum pattern for what you’re attempting to achieve can be difficult with so many distinct styles. The most basic drum beats in modern music are:
Eighth note single groove
Let’s imagine the kick and snare pattern is numbered 1 2 3 4. To get the full eighth note rhythm with the accompanying hi-hat, count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 for the extra drum beats. You can add the eighth note to the trip after you’re more comfortable.
Four on the floor
With the four on the kick drum, you’ll repeat the eighth pattern, but instead of only playing the kick drum on the first and third beats, you’ll now play it on all four beats (all quarter notes).
People should know this drum beat
The most common drum beat is the 4/4 beat. It is 4 counts per bar. The most common beat is a drum pattern.
What does the beat sound like?
A drummer will usually play eighth notes or sixteenth notes on the hi-hat while playing a snare note on counts 2 and 4 in the bar.
A 4/4 is known as a time signature. Most songs are written based on the idea that they have the perfect sound. There is the train beat that was meant to be played for indie songs. When people mention the 4/4 beat, they are referring to the most common beat.
Guides on the 4/4 beat
The time signature is simple and fun to learn. There are guides to playing the drum beat. People can follow along and know when to hit a snare. It is a fun pattern to listen to, and people can follow along when it comes to the 4/4 beat.
This beat doesn’t sound any better than the alternative music beats. It was only in the past that the 4/4 beat had a place in society. Today, there is the half-time shuffle. It is a popular groove beat.