Start to beat! - Essential Drum Beats for Beginners

Every time that you are listening to some piece of music you are hearing the melody that is floating in the rhythm in certain tempo. In the modern music most of the rhythm sounds – beats are coming from the drums. The drummer is the one who is putting the whole band in time, that is responsible to be correct when everyone is falling apart, and last but not the least the one who adds the groove, the most important aspect to the notable bands. But, not to be scared, we are here to define the essentials and to get to start in order to achieve the notable level of drumming. 
Two main terms every drummer should know are rhythm and tempo. The rhythm is defined as a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound, and the tempo we define as the speed (beat per minute) at which a passage of music is or should be played. So the key two syntagm are  repeated pattern and beat per minute (bpm) This text will guide you through the basic repeated patterns – essential drum beats to the beginners, and you should pick your own tempo for practice, listen to the songs and try to get into them.

Listed above you could see how the various parts of the drum system are presented in the notation partiture.

For the beginning lesson we’ll simplify the beats on the usage of closed hi-hat , snare and acoustic bass (kick) drum. By learning this it will help you to get familiar with the parts of your drum and how to read the partitures.

Basic Rock Beat – On Beat – 4/4 Time signature rhythm

This is one of the most usage beats, that you’ll hear almost in every classic rock and roll song. The BPM – tempo varies between 80-160 (the best is if you practice with metronome – simply set it up to certain BPM, this would help you to stay in right tempo all the time and to be in the right timing – sometimes the people say that the metronome is for the lame drummers, but it would help you to stay in time and to achieve the feeling of correct BPM in certain time). The time signature is defined as 4/4 which means that there are four beats in the one rhythmic structure.

Start with beating 4 notes in the row with kick drum in tempo of 80 bpm and repeat in your head 1,2,3,4. This will give you the felling of 4/4 time signature rhythm, and of 4 notes in the bar. After this we shall go to something more advance, but as easy as these four notes. We are bringing together snare and high hat along with the kick drum.

To easy a things a bit we’ll translate this partiture in the words. Firstly setup your metronome to the certain tempo and count 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, ect.. The kick drum and the snare are presented as ¼ notes, and the high hat is presented as 1/8 which is the half of the ¼ note. So we are playing 8 high hat notes, with two kick drum and two snare notes. Try to play this phrase in different tempo, and different loudness (from quiet to loud).

  • Song examples Basic Rock Beat – On Beat - 4/4:
  • Queen – Who wants to live forever
  • The Beatles – Lucy in the sky with Dimond – Chorus
  • Bon Jovi – It’s My Life
  • When the saints go marching in

Waltz – 3/4 Time signature rhythm

Just imagine the waltz. How is it danced? You have to count to three in your head and two move in the structure of three steps with someone in your hands. Waltz beat is closed in so called ternary rhythm, and it is played in the ¾ time signature. That means that there are three beats in the time structure of four.  You could count in your head the following: one, two, three…

In this beat structure for the beginning we would play the six times of closed high hat, while playing one beat of the kick drum (with your leg) and two beats of snare. It would sound like PAM pam pam; PAM pam pam; PAM pam pam.

Song examples Waltz – ¾ Time signature:

  • Beatles -  Norwegian wood
  • Neil Young – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Jazz beat – time signature – 6/8 time signature rhythm

This is the most advance beat for the beginning, but think of it as the challenge, as a step further to the achievement of you as a good drummer. In 6/8 time signature rhythm we have to count six eight notes in the bar. Count ONE – two – thee – FOUR – five - six, etc.

As indicated above, play the six notes with high hat, 1/4 with addition of 1/8 of kick drum (so it last longer then 1/4 and shorter than 1/2) and the same for the snare. And now repeat, as much as you can, by counting as indicated above.

Song examples Jazz Beat – 6/8 Time signature:

  • Simon& Garfunkel  - Old Friends
  • Queen - We Are the Champions
  • Journey - Lights
  • Bee Gees, Al Green - (How Can You Mend) A Broken Heart
  • The Beatles - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)


Having in mind that you are starting to play, and trying to figure out the basic beats, you need to focus yourself on the building practice routines, even if you are in your room with two pencils without the drum try to concentrate and to thing of the groove of the songs. Sometimes, the good practice is to listen to the song and try to figure out in which rhythm and time signature the song is. Think of it seriously while you are listening to the music you love and this will get you to the advancement in your playing techniques. Also the good thing is to find the suitable metronome, for the beginning there is the google free metronome online, so setup the tempo and start making the groove!

About author:

Paul Mills is one of the most creative mixers with instinct and prowess. His project Beatsbooster is the ultimate guide for everyone buying their first headphones or earbuds on every budget and for any purpose

By Julian Marsden
Posted on 10th May, 1:17pm