Monday, February 20, 2023

Left Hand Lead Hi-Hat 16ths

 The other day I was watching another instalment of John Christopher's great interview show, Live From My Drum Room, this episode was with Clem Burke. ( See below.) 

It's a great interview in general, but one of the things I twigged onto was when Mr. Burke mentioned that often when he's playing hand to hand 16th notes on the hi-hat, he leads with his left hand. Like Clem Burke, I am a left handed person playing a right handed drum set up, so when I first started playing, I would play 16th notes this way myself. I later trained myself to play this idea the "conventional way", meaning playing the down beats with my right hand, but this interview got me thinking….

If one plays a hi-hat pattern with both hands and leads right handed, all the backbeats on the snare drum (meaning beats 2 & 4) are played with the right hand but in almost any other situation, this is played with the left hand. I've always found it challenging to get the same sound on the snare with my right hand as with my left, and if one isn't leaving the hi-hat that much, I find moving over to the snare much more comfortable with my left hand. So, I started experimenting with this, and even trying beats where the the toms or cymbals are involved. I'll enclose some examples to try below but generally I found if we consider the LH facing "in" in this situation and the RH facing "out' , as most RH players turn to their left slightly when using both hands on the HH, beats where upbeats are played on the "outer" part of the drum set work better with left hand lead, and rhythms with downbeats on the toms and/or cymbals work well the other way around.
Before we get to the examples I've written, a great way to practice this is to play along with the song Clem Burke made famous,  Blondie's classic "Heart of Glass" .Even though the original groove is mainly 8th notes played with the right hand, you'll notice most of the fills are left hand lead, so it's a perfect song to introduce oneself to the concept. You can even try it with 16ths on the hi-hats with your left hand leading, as it's not too fast and the hands don't move around that much. Check it out.

And as promised, here's a couple of ideas where the hands are moving around a bit more.

My apologies for the "natural font', I just jotted these down in a hurry. The open note with a dot in the middle is the snare, everything else should be self-explanatory. Examples 1 & 2 are left-hand lead, 3 & 4 lead with the right. For extra practise, try a bar of either 1 or 2 followed by a bar of 3 or 4, sticking in a double stroke near the end of the bar to change the hand leading. I find this greatly increases flexibility with this, and then the decision of whether to lead 16ths with the right or left is purely a matter of what works best for the particular piece one is playing. Have fun! 

P.S. The inclusion of "Heart of Glass" the day before Valentine's Day is no reflection on my current personal life or my strong belief in love! Have a great day tomorrow everyone! 

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