Accents on the Drum Kit

One way to vary a drum pattern to change the way it feels and add to the music is through the use of accents. Just one subtle placement of an accent can add suspense to a measure, make it sound like the time has stopped briefly or propel the music forward. For this example, I'll start with this simple drum pattern below.

YouTube Video: Accents on the Drum Kit

Exercise 1 will be the basis of the examples in this article.

In Exercise 2, the accent on the downbeat or one on every measure is replaced by an accent on the last eigth note of each measure. When you play exercise 2, notice how the time and feel are propelled forward as opposed to exercise 1. Exercise 2 can be played 2 ways. First by playing the un-accented beat one on the high hat and second by not playing the high hat on the first beat. When the high hat on the first beat is not played, the feel pushes more into the next measure. By playing the high hat on the first beat, it decreases the anticipation because now the downbeat is played and not left out.

Exercise 3 takes the idea in exercise 2 a step further by adding the un-accented bass drum on beat one. The added bass drum beat further increases the feeling of pushing toward the next measure.

In exercise 4, the last eighth note accent is played with the snare drum. This accent pushes the feel toward the next measure, but in a different way. Since the accent is played with a higher more sharp sound, the feel is different when played with the bass drum.

In Exercise 5, the note that pushes to the next measure is now the last 16th note. Notice the difference from exercise 4. The push to the next measure is shorter and in some ways more subtle. Even though the note is shorter, I believe it propels the music forward more than the eight note in exercise 4.

These few patterns are just some examples. Take the ideas presented by them and experiment with them. Make your own examples and try playing different accents and on different drums. Also, apply this concept to more involved and busier drum beats and see how it changes the feel of the drum part.

YouTube Video: Accents on the Drum Kit

The exercises used in this article can be downloaded from the Drumming Resources section at the bottom of the About Page.

Brad Hill is a drum/percussion instructor in Berks County, PA ( Shillington, PA ). Go to (Drums 1 on 1) and submit the Contact form for your free consultation to determine the best lesson plan for you. I offer drum lessons and percussion lessons. In person and online lessons available.