Ah, Blues drum beats!
Wonderful grooves for a lovely music genre.
In this guide, you’ll learn 7 fun & easy beats.
The patterns are written in the 12/8 time signature (which is really popular in Blues!) and include
- eighth notes
- and pauses as well as
- dotted quarter notes. (I will explain the dots later on.)
To start off, let’s take a glimpse at our 7 blues drum beats not only starters will have a blast learning.
Our 7 Blues Drum Beats & How To Count Them
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These are our blues drum beats.
You can download the sheet music for free by clicking on the download button:
If you want to dig way deeper into the art of blues drumming, you might also want to check out these books on Amazon:
- The Total Blues Drummer*: A Fun And Comprehensive Overview Of Blues Drumming, Book & CD (The Total Drummer)
- Tony Coleman – Authentic Blues Drumming*: Learn Shuffles, Fills, Concepts, Tips and More from a Blues Master (Drum Instruction)
As you can see, you’re going to play eighth notes as a basis on the hi-hat.
The patterns are written in the 12/8 time signature.
In each bar, you play the hi-hat in eighths, 12 times at maximum.
To help you with this, I added my way of counting 8th notes below the first two beats.
Can you see it?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
That’s my way of counting 8th notes in 12/8.
Each number stands for one eighth note.
However, that’s just one way to count drum notes.
Maybe you’ve also heard about
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 +
But I would choose this way of counting for the 6/8 time signature on drums.
Just my two cents. 🙂
Our Blues Drum Beats Explained
Please take a close look at our first blues drum beat.
Then the second.
And the third.
Do you notice something?
Yeah, they share some similarities:
For example, the hi-hat doesn’t change at all.
In each beat, you play it 12 times.
No accents needed.
Just 12 tasty strokes on the hi-hat.
I highly recommend you to play this pattern with your leading hand.
Blues isn’t known to be the fastest music genre.
So, don’t worry about the pace to begin with.
Also, let’s take a closer look at our snare and kick.
Unlike the hi-hat, they do change.
Actually, you’re going to build them up.
The bass and snare are getting more intense.
In addition, I changed the groupings of them.
Can you spot it in the drums sheet music?
Yes, there actually is a pattern.
The first of our 7 blues drum beats consists of
- 8th notes in the hi-hat +
- dotted quarters in the other limbs.
So, I think it’s time to talk about what a dotted note (or rest) in music means.
The Dotted Quarter Note Easily Explained
The 12/8 time signature is based on eighth notes.
You play 12 of them in each bar.
However, you don’t need to only play 8ths.
You can also play
- sixteenth notes,
- 8th rests or
- dotted quarters.
But what does the dot mean?
The dot is extending a regular note value or rest.
It adds an eighth note to a quarter note, for example.
Whenever you add a single dot to a note value or rest, you extend it by the half of its actual length.
Take a look at this bar:
As you can see, you play the bass drum at counting time 1.
2 as well as 3 are 8th rests.
So to fill up the space, you need a dotted quarter note.
Now, please take a look at 4.
You play a quarter note equalling two eighth notes.
For this reason, there is no rest at 5.
However, a rest is needed at counting time 6.
Thanks to this rest, we have again a pair of three 8ths or a dotted quarter note.
You will also see similar rhythmical structures on the free drum notes for this article.
So basically, it’s always the same:
Adding a dot to a quarter rest?
It’s as long as three 8th notes or rests in total now.
Extending a sixteenth note?
It’s as long as three 32nd notes or rests.
You might wonder:
Could you also play a simple quarter note or even one eighth instead of the dotted quarter?
Yes, you actually could!
But as we play the drums in 12/8, it makes much more sense to write a dotted quarter.
After all, a dotted quarter is as long as three eighth notes (or rests).
That’s what we want to have in the 12/8 time signature, not only as a drummer.
After learning so much about blues drumming, time signatures and rhythm in general.
How does 12/8 music actually sound AND feel?
Check out this lovely tune for inspiration:
And after enjoying it, have fun practicing your new 7 blues drum beats.
PS: If you enjoy the beats presented in this guide, you might also want to check out my tips on how to learn your first blues shuffle rhythm.