Drum Theory

I’m very picky about drummers and drum theory. Conversations I’d most like to quickly see eye-to-eye on during band practices is any conversation about drum theory, tempos, and time signatures. Everybody needs to be on the same page about duples, triples, and quadruples. 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s respectively.

The drum tracks on this page were quickly and easily programmed via free software called Hydrogen from Sourceforge. Hydrogen (and other drum programs) notate 12th notes and 24th notes as “16th note triplets” and “32nd note triplets.” I would prefer it if they just notated them as 12th notes and 24th notes, but whatever.

The following two double bass samples demonstrate that without changing the speed of the feet, you can change the BPM just by switching your hand pattern. The hand pattern is not complicated here, it is just back/forth, right/left right/left. The concept here is important if your band wants blast beats but doesn’t want the drummer fucking up the song every time.

Example 1: Metal beat. Quadruples & triples.
BPM Solvency: quadruples at 75 BPM, triples at 100 BPM

Example 2: Metal beat. Quadruples, triples, and duples.
BPM Solvency: quadruples at 84 BPM, triples at 112 BPM,
duples at 42 BPM (illusion of 168 BPM)

For the duples, even though the snare is set to play theoretically 32 times through the blast section, I only programmed it to play 31 times. This is because the drum machine program sounded crappy switching from the blast pattern back to the easy 16th note pattern whenever I punched in the last (#32) snare hit. This should show that if a machine is having trouble resolving a final snare hit, a real drummer will have trouble resolving it as well, and there are some cases when resolving a blast beat it is better to skip the last snare hit.

Before you go, “I don’t care, I don’t need to know this. What is this for, man?” These illustrations are to show that there is such a thing called BPM solvency, and if you want to program more sophisticated beats or play sophisticated sounding hihat patterns, you will want to have an idea of the theory of BPM solvency. If you insist this information isn’t important, then go your own way. It inevitably comes up no matter what band I join, and everybody looks at me like I’m speaking in tongues. But in reality, it is NOT that difficult to get your head around. This is basic, grade school level fractions.

It is important to note that the feel of triples is always 1/4th less time than the feel of quadruples. And the feel of quadruples is 1/3rd more time than the feel of the triples. One analogy is to say triples is like counting to 45 seconds, and quadruples is like counting to a minute and 20 seconds. The more you can wrap your head around this idea, the better a musician you will be, and the less you’ll be inclined to write boring, predictable music.

It is also important to note that I am talking about STRAIGHT triplets, not swung triplets. Swing beats are also important to be aware of, but obviously they are home to jazz and not metal.

If you’re still with me here, you might want a copy of this chart. (I will update this chart in the future to include duples.) This chart will help for more sophisticated songs like this one below:

Dude, I’m Thinking of Becoming an FBI Agent Man

Now listen to this programmed beat:

Dude Man song – 72 & 96 BPM Solvency

To the best of my knowledge, this is the correct electronic program version for that beat. Within one musical phrase I am switching back and forth between duples, triples, and quadruples; and I’m using BPM solvency theory to keep the various sets of notes sounding like the duples, triples, and quadruples they are supposed to sound like. I actually wrote the riff and drum beat for this song years before I bothered to program it with drum software. Thus, I’m not performing the exact BPMs that were programmed via the drum software, but the overall pattern is the same.

I hope you found this informative. Actually, I hope you already know this stuff and can explain it back to me better than I explained it to you here. Either or. Thank you for reading!