7/8 Odd Time Drumming

Some of the greatest songs ever written in rock, prog, jazz and fusion are in odd-time signatures. The problem is, what sounds good on the ear doesn’t always come natural to the body so playing them can be a bit of a challenge. It is, however, much scarier in theory than it is in reality and if you break it down then slow it down you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get it.

In this lesson we’ll have a go at drumming in 7/8. Out of all the odd-time signatures this one feels the most natural to most drummers so lets head over to the kit and get started:

How To Count
There are a couple of ways to count 7/8. You can count the obvious ‘one two three four five six seven’ or you can break the seven down into smaller cells ‘one two one two one two three’ … ‘one two three one two one two’. Choose the method that you prefer and stick with it. Forget the notion that there is a best way to count and learn to feel the pulse of the music.

The cells you choose and count will often be dictated by the music anyway which makes your job a whole lot easier. You will basically be leaning on the most important parts of the groove with your bass and snare.

Exercises
Take a look at the PDF. You’ll see twelve grooves, of which the first six are demonstrated in the video (8 bars each). See if you can follow along and when you are ready give it a go. As always start really slow and build up the tempo from there.

There are four empty bars on the PDF. Can you come up with some of your own grooves in 7/8?

Download The PDF

Drummers are often too hesitant when it come to playing in odd-time signatures like it’s some big thing reserved for the drum gods. It really isn’t that difficult if you a) Listen to the music b) Feel the underlying pulse and c) Jam along as often as possible. A little time practicing and you’ll be nailing these grooves like cleaning your teeth… fresh and clean!! ;-)

Recommended Listening
Dreaming In Metaphors – Seal
2 + 2 = 5 – Radiohead
Cinema – Yes
Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow – by Frank Zappa
Saint Augustine In Hell – Sting

Now Kill It! DN


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