Play Songs

10.08.2017 |

Episode #10 of the course How to play the drums to (almost) every song you’ve ever heard by Dylan DePice


Last day! Can you believe it?! You’ve already learned so much.

You know how to count common time. You know how to play in rhythm. You know the names, characteristics, and functions of the basic elements of a drumset (BD, SN, and HH). You know about bars/measures, 8th notes, and count-ins, and most importantly, you know how to play the basic beat behind almost every song you’ve ever heard!

Bass drum on 1 and 3, snare drum on 2 and 4, and 8th notes on the hi-hat.

That’s it!

I’m just going to teach you one trick today, but it will make you sound way better on a real kit.

It’s very simple: on the first beat of every four bars, instead of hitting the hi-hat, hit the crash cymbal at on 1.

If you’re playing on your knees at your desk, hit the desk with your right hand; if you’re on your couch, hit a pillow; if you’re on a real drumkit, the crash should be higher than anything else.

Here’s how you could write this “CRASH VARIATION” or “RESET BEAT”:

You should always hit the crash with the side of your stick, unlike the snare, which you want to hit with the tip of the stick, or the HH, which you can hit with either the tip or the side, depending on the sound you’re going for. (These are guidelines for how to sound the best. Has anyone ever varied this or other rules for creative effect? Of course! See yesterday’s lesson for some notes on varying what you play.)

Here’s another tip: don’t ever hit the crash cymbal without simultaneously hitting the bass drum.

If you’re feeling up for it, try a four-bar phrase of all of our four variations: CRASH VARIATION / RESET BEAT, SGT RINO (Variation One), BASIC BEAT, HALF PAST THREE (Variation Two):

If you make a mistake, slow down and take it from the top. If you can make it all the way through, take a deep breath. Then try to do it four times in a row.

You may not get this down today. Or this week. Or for a few weeks, really.

If you feel your patience getting drained, take a break and come back to it another time.

Even if you don’t come back to it for years—which I hope isn’t the case—history strongly suggests that when you do, there will be a popular song that you can play along with.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this: a Spotify playlist of all the songs we’ve talked about that you can play to.

One more thing…

CONGRATULATIONS! Now you know how to play the drums to (almost) every song you’ve ever heard!


Recommended book

The Drum Book: A History of the Rock Drum Kit by Jeff Nicholls


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