Beginner Linear Drum Beats

Easy Drumming That Sounds Hard

Linear beats, and fills for that matter are patterns whose strokes never overlap. This means that they lack unison figures. In this free drum lesson, Dave Atkinson teaches you how to play five beginner linear drum beats. He does so by showing you exactly how they should sound and how to best work on mastering them.

Using the linear concept with drum beats is a very cool idea for coming up with groovy patterns that challenge your independence. Learning the beats from this free drum lesson is a great way for you to be introduced to the world of linear drumming. If you want to delve further into this style of playing, be sure to listen to some of the great drummers that have made this a very popular concept.

Drummers: David Garibaldi (Tower of Power, Talking Drums), Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (The Meters), Steve Gadd (Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Joe Brucato), Gary Chafee (Pat Metheny, Abe Laboriel, Jaco Pastorius, Whirlybirds), Dave Weckl (Dave Weckl Band, Chick Corea Elektric Band, Chick Corea Acoustic Band, Mike Stern Band, Oz Noy), Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Beck).

Drum Beats

The first pattern is a very simple but effective way of getting introduced to linear drumming. Playing a linear drum beat can be a hard task at first, since your brain is used to having limbs playing at the exact same time. Start by learning the stroke sequence. Add a metronome to the mix only when you have total command over the pattern. Remember to take your time and make sure everything lines up perfectly, before you increase the speed at what you practice the exercise.

Exercise #2 is a great example of how to come up with intricate and cool sounding patterns from a fairly simple one. This exercise is pretty much like the previous one; except for the extra hi-hat strokes on the “ah” of counts 1 and 4.

Exercise #3 builds on the previous one; only this time around we’ll be messing around with the snare drum pattern. The idea here is to keep the accents on the back beat and add ghost notes to the “e” of counts 1 and 3, and to the “ah” of count 2. The hi-hat and bass drum figures are the same as the ones from exercise 2. Once you’ve mastered this exercise as is, experiment tempering with the dynamics of each snare drum hit. For instance, play an accent on the “e” of count 1 and a ghost note on count 2 instead. Try your own ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment.

The first count of exercise #4 is played as a 16th note single stroke roll between the hi-hat hand and the bass drum foot. This can bring about coordination issues, since arms and legs are controlled with different areas of the brain. This becomes an even bigger issue if you play open-handed, because you’ll be playing the hi-hat with a hand on the opposite side of where your bass drum leg is. So besides having different areas of the brain controlling each limb, the areas will be on opposite sides of the brain. In either case, start real slowly and make sure the strokes of the single stroke roll are evenly spaced.

Dave Atkinson takes you in a whole different direction with this final exercise. Here, you’ll learn how to play a tom-tom linear drum beat. This quasi-tribal groove is sure to spice up your playing, and hopefully give you a lot of new ideas for adding toms to the linear beats you’ve already learned how to play with this free drum lesson.

There are some areas of this beat that require an extra degree of care. You’ll be playing an alternating single stroke roll between the bass drum foot and the hands. So just like we discussed previously, take the needed precautions to make sure everything lines up perfectly. The bass drum hit on the “ah” of count 1 is a double stroke. When practicing this exercise at slower speeds, you can play a normal double stroke with heels down or heels up. As you start increasing the tempo on your metronome, you’ll not be able to perform the double stroke with those techniques. To work around this issue, we encourage you to check the free drum lessons “Slide Technique” and “Heel-Toe Technique” to learn about techniques that will have you playing fast double strokes with only one foot.

Lastly, the 16th note double stroke Dave plays on the floor tom on count 4, can be performed as single strokes. There is no better or worst way here, it’s all just a matter of personal preference and technical facility.

After you’re done with this free drum lesson, take a look at the lesson “Intermediate Linear Drum Beats“. If you’d rather learn how to play some linear drum fills to go along with these linear drum beats, check the free drum lesson “Beginner 16th Note Linear Drum Fills“. Have fun and don’t forget to check the drummers we listed in this lesson to learn more about their way of approaching linear drumming.