The hi-hat is the element of the drum set that with subtle variations and embellishments can greatly affect the groove. Drummers like Stewart Copeland, Jeff Porcaro, Dennis Chambers, and Steve Gadd, to name a few, expanded the rhythmic possibilities of the hi-hat playing timeless grooves. With this lesson we explore the one-handed 16th note hi-hat feel, playing a series of four accents combinations. This will prove to be a serious exercise to develop your right hand and at the same time improve your groove. Let’s start!
All the accents must be played with the shoulder of the stick, be sure to stay relaxed and avoid tension and any inconsistency. Don’t over-stress the movements, minimize the arm motion when playing these hi-hat patterns. Unaccented notes are played with the tip of the stick on the top of the hi-hat cymbal. You can play the hi-hat without accents, only unaccented notes, and then once comfortable start off with the first pattern.
We start the actual exercise by playing sixteen bass drum combinations, focusing on the accuracy of the right hand. Make sure every bass drum note is perfectly in unison with the hi-hat (avoiding any flam). Every bar must be played at least four times, moving to the next one smoothly. Start slowly at 60 bpm and time after time take note of your progress.
Here’s a variation, we play the accents every three 16th notes, creating a 4:3 polyrhythm. This is a pattern for the intermediate/advanced drummers, and for those who already mastered the previous patterns. A way to apply the exercise beyond the hi-hat is to move the right hand on the ride cymbal, playing the accents on the ride bell.
While practicing with the metronome is an important and essential part of our daily study, don’t forget to practice along with the music. Here’s a YouTube playlist including a collection of ten songs with a one-handed hi-hat 16th notes groove. Keep on drumming!