What are drum beats?
Drumming beats have become the foundation of most modern music. Clyde Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” beat with James Brown or Gregory Coleman’s “Amen, Break” beat with the Winston’s have been sampled in music numerous times.
Their drum beats have been used in Hip-Hop, Pop, Funk, Soul and other styles of music. So when we think of the term “drum beat” we tend to think of a brief repeated pattern.
All drumming beats are basically a repeated drums pattern. This repetition makes it easy to follow and remember. It’s why drum beats often end up in Popular music.
One of the cornerstones of Pop music is that the songs are easy to remember. Drum beats play an important roll in the composing and arranging of this music.
Drum Jazz beats
So far I’ve mentioned popular music styles but drum beats are also used in Jazz music. The basic Jazz Swing beat, for example, is also a repeated drumming pattern.
In my video below, I share 3 Jazz drumming beats I use to lock in a tempo when the speed of a song keeps slowing down or going faster.
Check out the description below the YouTube video. I have chapter markers there so you can skip to each of the drum beats in the video. You can also download the PDF here.
So you can see and hear that Jazz also has drum beats. With Jazz, we generally start with a basic beat and then spice it up with rhythmic variations in our four limbs.
Jazz music is highly improvised so being able to make changes to our drum beats is important for interacting with the other musicians’ playing. Making these changes to Jazz drum beats really challenges our coordination too.
Basic drum beat for Jazz
The most difficult part of learning any new drum Jazz drumming beat is overcoming the coordination challenge. Some beats are harder than others. I’m going to share a basic Jazz swing beat that you should be able to get up and swinging pretty quick.
This is the basic drum beat for Jazz Swing that I teach all students who are new to Jazz drumming. See my notation below. If you’d like some support for your Jazz drumming let’s book a Zoom lesson!
A Jazz drum beat for beginners
As you begin to play this drum beat, I want you to learn it in a very specific way. This will help you to learn it fast. You might also be interested in another article about how to learn drums fast.
The top drum voice of the music staff is the ride cymbal. The next one down is the snare drum cross-stick. The voice below that is the bass drum and the bottom one is the hi-hat foot.
Above the music staff are the counts. The counts are triplets. It’s good to start out playing everything under each count. Play things one count at a time out of time.
That is, don’t start out playing in a particular tempo. Give your brain and body a chance to get the coordination first. After you can play everything correctly with no tempo. Gradually play in time starting off very slowly.
Beginning drum beats for Jazz
Two more beginning drumming beats for Jazz are from my video above about beats to lock the band together. One is a cross-stick and rack tom groove.
The other one is a Jazz Shuffle drum beat. I love grooving on this one a lot when I gig. It just feels good!
Here’s a video just about this amazing Jazz drumming beat.
Take both of these drum beats very slowly like you did for the basic Jazz beat and you’ll get them quickly.
By the way, if you’d like to learn the drumming brushes beat I also shared in this video, check out my drumming with brushes course at jazzdrumschool.com
Best drummer songs
I mentioned a couple of great drummer songs at the beginning of this article but they’re not Jazz tunes. I thought I’d also take a minute to share 5 of my recommendations for Jazz drummer songs.
In these recordings, you can hear how these great drummers take a basic Jazz Swing drumming beat and change it to fit the music. Their drumming is fluid and effortless.
Here is my list with the drummers’ names in no particular order. These are music affiliate links. If you choose to buy through the links on this page, it’s an easy and great way to support this blog. Thank you🤙:
- Sometimes I’m Happy – Oscar Peterson Trio (Drummer: Ed Thigpen)
- But Not for Me (Live) – Ahmad Jamal (Drummer: Vernel Fournier)
- Nite Mist Blues – Monty Alexander Trio (Drummer: Jeff Hamilton)
- Groovin’ High – Art Pepper (Drummer: Mel Lewis)
- So What – Miles Davis (Drummer: Jimmy Cobb)
Throughout each track, you can hear that they are playing the Jazz Swing drum beat but they vary it to match music that’s being played around them. We often call this “drum comping.” I have another article that will introduce you to the concept of Jazz drums comping.
This kind of drumming requires a much higher level of drumming coordination. I also have a great course at jazzdrumschool.com that will help you get to that level of coordination.
Drumming beats are flexible
Drumming beats in every style of music are flexible and especially in Jazz drumming. They can be molded and shaped in the musical moment to compliment the other musicians’ playing.
Have fun as you explore the beats I’ve shared in this article and other Jazz drumming beats. With any music, you want to learn, be sure to listen to it as much as you can. Listen to my recommendations above as a jumping off place.
Learning the beginning Jazz beats I shared above is a great way to start your journey into Jazz drumming. They’re also useful in real Jazz playing situations.
Drumming beats are the foundation of so much modern music and will continue to be in the future. Try and learn as many different beats as you can from as many styles of drumming as possible.
Grow your beat vocabulary and learn to also change them to fit the music you play. At the end of the day, it’s always about making the music sound great. Keep on grooving and beat-making my friend!
What’s your favorite drumming beat?
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