The Blues are the foundation of almost every important musical genre of the 20th century – from Jazz to Rock to Soul to Funk to Hip-Hop and beyond. As Willie Dixon so eloquently put it, “The Blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits.”
This lesson will give you the basics of blues drumming as well as a some essential recordings that will get you started with this style:
The Basic Beat
The basic blues beat is a triplet based pattern in 12/8. That means there are twelve eighth notes in the bar and they are usually played on the hi-hat or ride cymbal. Count and play “one-and-a, two-and-a, three-and-a, four-and-a” or “one-trip-let, two-trip-let, three-trip-let, four-trip-let”. Once you’ve got this going add the bass drum on one and three and the snare drum on two and four to create the basic blues pattern.
Practice at a slow 50bpm to really lock in the timing and work on getting the right sound. You can then practice the variations in the video and transcription below. Make sure to practice at a number of tempos and dynamics.
A lot of people think the blues groove is too easy and move on really quickly but it has a certain sound and ‘attitude’ that takes some time and study to really master. Blues is a gritty style of music and this groove pops up everywhere from ballads to swing to R&B. If you can play it with good feel and some crack then you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this beat.
King of Delta Blues Singers – Robert Johnson
Born Under a Bad Sign – Albert King
Live at the Regal – B.B. King
Now Kill It! DN
If you really want to improve your drum skills then check out Mike Michalcow’s Drumming System. This comprehensive training package covers everything you need to progress from complete beginner to seasoned professional.
Just starting the drums? Check out the Rock Drumming System where you’ll discover how to play beginner-to-advanced beats, fills and more whether you read sheet music or not!