Drum Set Hi-Hat Variations – Part 1

Drum Set Hi-Hat Variations – Part 1

After mastering the skills discussed in my previous article, “Drum Set Basics,” we move on to add some variation. One way to add variation to a basic drum set groove is to change the hi-hat pattern. Altering the hi-hat pattern can drastically change the sound of the groove. This allows the drummer to adapt to the correct “feel” of a tune or to add variation to different sections of a song, like the chorus section, etc.

One hi-hat pattern is playing quarter notes instead of the standard eighth notes. This pattern could also be played on the ride cymbal or the bell of the ride cymbal. Following are two examples of quarter notes on the hi-hat or ride. The top notes with the “x” as the note heads are the hi-hat. The next note down is the snare drum and the bottom note is the bass drum.

Sixteenth notes are another way to alter the hi-hat pattern. Following are two basic examples of using sixteenth notes. Play all sixteenth notes on the hi-hat or ride using the right hand.

After mastering the right-handed sixteenth notes on the hi-hat with several bass drum variations, try a different sticking. Alternate hands on the hi-hat while playing sixteenth notes. This will work by starting with the right hand on the hi-hat followed by the left. The right hand will hit the snare drum on counts 2 and 4 instead of hitting the hi-hat. Alternating hands allows the speed or tempo to be increased.

Work on these hi-hat patterns slowly by themselves first, then add snare, and last add the bass drum into the mix. As these grooves become comfortable, try different bass drum patterns and increase the tempo in small increments.

– Meg Thomas

Meg Thomas Bio
Meg Thomas Headshot B-W 3.5MBDrummer and percussionist Meg Thomas has performed in musical realms that range from rock to calypso, avant-garde to spoken word, Latin-jazz to punk, and dance ensembles to percussion ensembles. Her drum and percussion set-ups range from the traditional ideas to unique set-ups that incorporate a vast range of percussion instruments. She received her degree in Music from Millikin University and she founded and runs the Chicago Women’s Drumming Group. Meg is a Vic Firth Private Drum and Percussion Teacher and teaches lessons out of her studio in Chicago. She plays recording sessions, performs with an array of bands and ensembles, and has toured the U.S. and Europe. Meg won a Drummie in Drum! Magazine’s 2010 Drummie Awards as runner-up “Rising Star Percussionist,” was named “Musician of the Month” for January 2013 by the Chicago Music Guide, and is endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Evans Drumheads, LP Percussion, PureSound Percussion, and Humes & Berg Cases.

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