Beginner / Intermediate Level
The following is a simple funk pattern given to me by my music mentor, Rick Montalbano when I was just a lad. What I will attempt to do is present the pattern itself and a number of options that allow the pattern to develop. The intent is to show how a basic drum pattern or lesson can become personalized and rewarding based on the amount time and creativity given to it.
The pattern opens with the right hand on the closed hi-hat, the left hand on the snare, and the right foot on the bass drum. The pattern is written with eighth notes, quarter notes, and quarter note rests. The student should try to make the pattern flow and feel good. As always, start at a slow tempo, and gradually increase the speed as you feel more comfortable with it. And have fun with it!
The first option will be to place a cymbal crash in place of the quarter note rest in the second bar. You can punctuate this crash by adding a bass drum kick at the same time.
Try to keep the volume of your crash in context with the your overall volume while playing the pattern. This creates a more dynamically appealing “feel” to your drumming, and allows for a more musical statement.
Written as follows:
Note that the initial eighth note pattern is not included within the repeat marks. Therefore, the next option at exploring this groove would be to include that opening pattern as follows:
Remember to make your pattern “flow” smoothly; you are trying to create a groove that feels good. Our next step is to open the hi-hat on the second beat of each measure in the pattern. Again, try to make the striking of the open hi-hat sound musical. The left foot actually closes the hi-hat on the third downbeat of each measure.
Written as follows:
I won’t bother to continue notating the pattern as I present further options. It is important to recognize that a lesson, once learned, should be developed according to each drummer’s individual style and taste. There are thousands of options with respect to this pattern that could potentially allow it to become a working part of your drumming repertoire. Here are a few further options:
1. Remove the right hand from the hi-hat and place it on the bell of the ride cymbal, striking it in place of the hi-hat.
2. Add two groupings of sixteenth notes on the toms for a drum fill on the last two beats of the second measure. Try substituting a crash for the last sixteenth note in the fill before returning to the pattern.
3. A simple well-placed off-beat crash is always dynamically appealing. Try adding a crash at an “odd” place within the groove. Explore all unusual options!
4. Try opening and closing the hi-hat in a quicker manner while simultaneously striking it with the right hand. This can add a syncopated feel to the groove.
5. Try “walking” the hi-hat with the left foot, clicking it on all the downbeats. Place the right hand on the ride cymbal using the written pattern for the hi-hat while exploring this option. A great 4-way independence exercise!
6. Practice placing the left hand on the hi-hat and the right hand on the snare. This can go a long way in strengthening independence between the hands.
7. Try doubling the kicks on the bass drum in place of the single pattern written.
8. Practice the groove with both hands playing a sixteenth note pattern on the hi-hat. If your set-up allows, play this same sixteenth note pattern on a ride cymbal.
9. Place the right (or left) hand on a cow bell instead of the closed hi-hat.
10. Practice single groupings of sixteenth notes using paradiddles between the toms and/or snare for fills or as an interesting addition to the initial groove.
As you can see, the number of options for this pattern are almost endless. Something as simple as exploring combinations of singles, doubles, and even triples on the bass drum while playing the hands as written creates a multitude of variations. Take your time with this exercise, be creative, and most importantly, have fun. Because that’s why you chose to drum in the first place.