Rock Drumming

The rock drumming section provides a comprehensive set of rock drum lessons arranged in order of difficulty. Beginners are encouraged to study the lessons in order. More advanced drummers may wish to look at the later lessons.

Rock Music

Rock music originated as rock and roll in the 1950s, developing out of rhythm and blues and country music. It became widely popular during the 1960s in America and Britain and has since spawned many sub genres.

Rock bands typically consist of drums, electric bass, electric guitars and a singer. Other instruments are often added, such as keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals and even strings, brass or woodwind instruments.

Rock music is is characterised by simple chord progressions, catchy melodies and a driving, unsyncopated groove with a strong back beat.

Rock Drumming

They key stylistic features of rock drumming are:

  • Strong snare drum back beat on beat two and four
  • Strong emphasis on beat one with the bass drum
  • Bass drum aligns with bass guitar rhythm
  • Strong quarter note feel

The bass drum and snare drum are the dominant voices in rock drumming. These two drums provide the core of the groove. The hi-hat is slightly quieter, adding texture and filling in the gaps with eighth notes. The basic rock drum beat is shown below.

Basic Rock Drum Beat

Basic Rock Drum Beat

Rock Drumming Technique

To play rock beats the left hand plays the snare drum and the right hand plays the hi-hat. The right arm crosses over the left. Arm movement should be kept to a minimum and stick movement should come from the wrists and fingers. The snare drum should be struck in the center of the head.

For rock music the bass drum is usually played heel-up. Beginners should play the bass drum with their heel down and later change to playing heel-up. Bring the beater off the bass drum as soon as you play it so that the bass drum resonates fully.

You can play the hi-hat in one of three ways:

  1. Strike the top of the hi-hat with the tip of your stick. This is for quieter playing and is recommended for beginners.
  2. Strike the edge of the hi-hat with the shoulder of your stick. This is louder and used for accents on the hi-hat.
  3. Strike the edge of the hi-hat with the shoulder of your drum stick on the beat and strike the top of the hi-hat with the tip of your stick on the off-beats. The quarter note beats will be accented and the off beats quieter. Your stick and hand will play in a stroking or rocking motion.

The third technique is recommended for intermediate to advanced players since the accents give the rock beat a great feel.

The hi-hat pedal is usually played heel-down for rock music. The pressure on the hi-hat pedal can be varied to adjust the amount of sizzle in the hi-hat sound. Looser hi-hats will produce a louder, more sustained note.