Linear drumming is a very unique style that is becoming more and more popular with modern music. Learning how to play linear drum patterns and grooves will increase the amount of different styles of music you can play. Linear drumming also gives you a totally different feel for the drum set. New rock these days requires a lot of variety and fresh ideas in order to sound unique; that is why most drummers are taking advantage of this popular style of drumming. This style is also popular in Latin music. So take a few minutes to read up on linear drumming, the idea is very cool!
What Is Linear Drumming?
First off, there are a lot of drummers who may be unfamiliar with the term linear drumming. What a linear drum beat is is a groove played where no two limbs match up. This means you never play your hands or feet at the same time. If you look at a linear beat on sheet music you will notice the notes form a line because each note is to the right of the next; hence the term linear drumming. These beats can be hard to distinguish in the middle of a song, but you can notice them. This style adds a lot of groove to the beat as it keeps the listener interested because it is harder to distinguish a solid pulse. Also, these beats are a lot more creative to play, since you do not have a static hi hat or ride cymbal in the background; that is always changing with linear grooves.
How do you Play Linear Drum Patterns?
So now that you have a further understanding of linear drumming, let me explain a little on how to play these unique beats. The first thing you need to realize when starting these grooves, is that no limbs match up. So if you have that in mind, you should be able to play a basic beat in linear fashion. However, do not sacrifice the feel of a beat in order to keep the pattern linear. This is a big mistake. The point of a drummer is to make the song flow as easy and smooth as possible. If you want to play a linear groove, but have to change the style of the song, do not do it. Most drummers will play certain parts of a song with a linear groove and switch back for the chorus or something. Use this concept to spice up your drumming, not to change it.
Start with your hands. Make a groove that flows very well with your hi hats and snare. (Making sure that they do not line up obviously). You can also play this on your ride cymbal or toms, whichever feel you are going for. Try to be creative; however for starters, try to begin with a basic 4/4 groove. Try this very basic idea on the hi hats and snare drum:
Once you have this idea down, (which is very easy) add the bass drum. This is where the beat will start to groove. Watch out though, because adding a bass drum into this groove will mean you will have to cut out one other limb. So lets take out the hi hat hits every now and then. Try this groove on the hi hat, snare and bass drum:
There is a basic linear groove for you. One thing to remember is you want the pattern to sound good. So when you go to crash a cymbal, do not be afraid to kick your bass drum at the same time to give it some punch. A bland cymbal hit never sounds that good. So there are exceptions to this style. Here is a more advanced linear drum groove to try out, be patient with this groove, as it is a little trickier. Once you have this down, try making your own linear beats!