15 Common Drum Beats
You Need to Master
As a drummer, it’s important for you to know how to play several different beats that occur frequently across all musical styles. Knowing these grooves will make you a versatile musician who will be able to sit in on most gigs. They vary in difficulty, yet they’re all very important.
What Makes a Drum Beat Common or Essential?
It’s common if you end up playing it on many occasions.
A lot of music has similar structures, meaning drum beats work well in those situations and they are heard frequently.
They’re essential to the music because they suit the songs the best. They improve the overall feel of the tracks.
Table of Contents
15 Common Drum Beats
1. Straight 8th Beat
Here is the first drum beat that everyone learns when they start playing drums. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most important groove there is. You can use it for the majority of pop and rock songs and it will work perfectly with the music.
Practice it at all tempos and you’ll have of the most valuable beats as a drummer to pull out at any given time.
2. Four on the Floor
This will be the most basic groove on this list. However, it’s one of the most effective. Sometimes, drums will be too loud in a soft verse, meaning you’ll need to play something a bit softer.
Four on the floor beats with just the bass drum playing usually work extremely well. You could add some patterns with your hands to get interesting groove variations.
3. 16th Note Beat
16th note beats are an interesting variation that sound a lot busier than 8th note beats.
The more notes you play on the hi-hat, the busier the groove sounds. This groove sounds a lot more aggressive, so it’s great to pull out in uptempo songs that need a bit more power to them.
Adding on the four on the floor vibe is the disco groove. It started in the 70s and is still used in a lot of songs today.
The driving kick drum along with the solid backbeat makes it a great groove to dance along to. This is why you’ll hear it in a lot of songs that play in clubs and pubs.
5. Bossa Nova
The Bossa Nova is the most basic Latin drum beat. It has a repeating bass drum pattern that mixes with the repeating cross-stick pattern to get a complex sounding groove.
You’ll mostly hear this beat in hotel lounges and elevators.
6. Basic Swing
Here is the most basic form of a jazz drum beat. Jazz drumming is a complex art form, so mastering the basics is seriously important.
Your right hand plays a swinging pattern on the ride cymbal while your left foot closes on beats 2 and 4. Your left hand and right foot are then free to play whatever best suits the music.
7. Train Beat
The train beat is used in a lot of country and indie songs. It’s a driving pattern on the snare drum that combines ghost notes and accents.
The softer your ghost notes, the more effective the accents will sound.
Motown is a style of music that originated in the 1950s and 60s. The grooviest of grooves were played in those songs and they’re still used today.
This groove is a basic variation of a Motown drum beat. You’ll hear it in a lot of old school funk songs.
9. Half Time Shuffle
The shuffle is one of the most beneficial grooves to play as a drummer. It will develop your hi-hat technique as well as your ability to play ghost notes.
The half time shuffle is a variation that has one main accent on beat 3 of the bar. The trickiest part of the groove is playing the ghost note straight after the accent.
The samba is one of the fastest Latin grooves that is used a lot in dance songs.
It has a repeating foot pattern between the bass drum and hi-hat combined with a clave pattern on the hands. The rest of the 16th notes with your hands are filled out as ghost notes.
11. Reggae One Drop
Reggae is one of the most laid back styles of music. The one drop is a groove that has one bass drum note per bar that lands on beat 3. The groove itself is very easy to play. However, the laid back feel can be difficult to master.
The Soca is an African-influenced groove. The constant offbeat snare keeps it driving along with the four on the floor bass drum pattern.
Most Soca grooves are played at very high tempos. If you want to get a bit intricate, you could play varying hi-hat patterns to keep it interesting.
13. Double Time Beat
Double time is when the typical notes you’d hear in a bar are doubled. So, instead of having 2 snares in a bar, you’re going to have 4. You’d usually play this beat in a song that is very fast.
14. Slow Blues
A slow blues groove can also be played in a lot of R&B songs. This groove is similar to a straight 8th beat.
However, there are two hi-hats before every snare drum instead of just one. This is a great drum beat to learn as it will get you used to feeling grooves in different subdivisions.
15. Heavy Rock Beat
Most beginners will eventually learn this beat to make their drumming more interesting. It develops your ability to play offbeat snare notes and it sounds really cool. The most famous song that utilizes this groove would be Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
So, if straight 8th beats are starting to get a bit boring, you could try pulling this beat out to get a little more interesting.
Things To Consider:
What are drum beats called?
Drum beats have many different names. When talking about a beat itself, some drummers may refer to it as a groove. Other drummers will refer to it as a drum part. Whatever you call them, they all mean the same thing. Beats and grooves are things that drive songs from the drums.
How many drum beats are there?
There are an endless amount of drum beats in the world. Just think of how many songs there are. That’s how many drum beats there are. Human creativity is unlimited, meaning people are thinking of different types of beats every day that are new.
What is a 4 4 drum beat?
4/4 is the most common type of time signature in modern music. A 4/4 drum beat is when you have 4 counts per bar. Typically, a drummer will either play 8th notes or 16th notes on the hi-hat while playing a snare note on counts 2 and 4 in the bar.
How do drum beats work?
Drummers will play patterns on the drums that form a repeating sound that musicians can lock onto when playing melodies. That’s basically how drum beats work. However, it can get more complicated than that.
Once you know how to play all the beats on this list, you’ll be ready to play almost any gig. The best drummers are versatile ones, so it’s important to know how to play many different drum beats.
So, go to your drum kit and start practicing!