How to Play Snare Drum Beat Variations

Learn how to play snare drum beat variations from drum teacher Jason Gianni in this Howcast drum video.

Transcript

Another approach you can take with your drum beat variation starts with a snare drum. Normally you're going to start with varying your foot. Your bass drum foot is what is linked up with your bass player, and it's a good place to start those variations. However, to really mix up what you're doing on the drums with your grooves, you can move to some variations on the snare.

Now the snare drum usually falls on beats two and four of a measure. One, two, three, four. And if we're keeping everything simple, we're still talking about a basic beat where your bass drum's going to be on one, two, three, four, the one and the three of the measure. And you're going to play eighth notes on the high hat. One and two and three and four and.

You can start by moving your snare drum around on some eighth-note variations in the measure. For instance, on this groove, I'm going to put a snare drum on two and the and of two immediately following, as well as the four. So it would be one, two and three, four. One, two and three, four. That's actually a beat called the mersey beat, which originated in the 60s with early rock and roll and surf music. And that will sound something like this. One, two, three, four.

[plays snare]

So another variation you could do with your snare drum is to take it off of a main numbered rhythm, like a two or a four, and put it onto an and. And this is often called a displaced rhythm, where in this groove I'm going to take the snare drum and put it on the and of two only and then four. So it would be one, two and, four. This groove will sound something like this. One, two, three, four.

[plays snare]

Now if you start moving the snare drum to partials of a sixteenth note, partials I mean like an E or an uh, you're going to get a whole different vibe and groove to your playing. What I'm going to do in this rhythm is I'm going to add an uh of two, two E and uh, on the snare drum to my groove. That will sound something like this. One, two, three, four.

[plays snare]

And finally, I'll show you a variation where you add two sixteenth-note partials in a row, an uh of two, and an E of three. So it's like one, two, E and uh, three, E and four. One, two, E and uh, three, E and four. And that sounds like this. One, two, three, four.

[plays snare]

So remember, there are countless variations of this as well that you can play. Start with some of those ideas, and you'll really come up with some nice things on your own.

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