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Foot hi hat playing

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  • Foot hi hat playing

    I wish we had a Technique Forum here

    Anyway, I have another general drumming question for you guys.

    Foot hi-hat playing...how and why?

    Well, I guess I understand 'why' a little...I watch Neil Peart and others use it for 'marking' the upbeat or downbeat, but I guess I'm amazed HOW a drummer can just tap quarters with his foot like that while doing double hits with his other foot, a triplet or some swing ride with his right arm, and downbeats w/accents (just for good measure!) with the left arm...and you don't even hear the foot hats 'scheks' most of the time in a band situation, do you?

    Is it just more of a visual aid for the drummer?

    The foot hat thing has always enchanted and mystified me

    Tough to find info specifically on the net regarding this topic, so I'm hoping this thread might generate some interest; I got lucky with my "How do you play your bass drum pedal?" thread and rec'd so much quality feedback, with lots of different viewpoints.


    Dan the Question Man

    Dan's Music Site; melodic, ethereal rock and more! Please have a listen :^)

  • #2
    another good question!

    whereas drum kits had been around for about 40 years, hi-hats weren't invented until the 1920's or so for use in early jazz. at this time, it was played really close to the floor - so close that you couldn't hit it with a drumstick. i've heard it was used primarily to splash small cymbals together. in the 30's the cymbals were raised up so that the cymabls (now larger) could be played with either foot or hand.

    so the historical precendence is that hi-hats were played by foot, not by hand!

    there's a million different approaches to playing hi-hat pedal and the possibilities are limitless. in jazz it is frequently only played on the 2 and 4 of the measure as a way of reinforcing the swing. but then you get guys like tony williams who stomp it in quarter notes, broke triplets and everything in between. also, steve gadd combines alot of footing and sticking in his hihat patterns.

    one way to approach developing independence is to get a book of rock beats, say the drummers cookbook or something, and back it with different variations of hihat - quarter notes, on 2 and 4, all upbeats, etc.

    explore and, as my teacher kenwood dennard says, just advance!


    • #3
      The legend is that Pa Pa Jo Jones, stuck a pole on a "snow shoe" foot cymbal and that's how it was born. No idea.
      Drumkat Turbo 4.5, Emulator X3, Superior 2.1, Roland Fantom XR, DTXtreme III, SPD-20 etc.......


      • #4
        the hi-hat played with the foot is basically the backbeat of jazz drumming. In rock your time is kept by kick/snare and in jazz it in ride/hi-hat. Since jazz is more spontaneous and free, the left hand/right foot are freed up for accents/soloing. If you watch any jazz player solo, he will keep the hi-hat going in quarters or eight notes. it serves as a reference for time. Take sing,sing,sing by gene krupa. The whole time he is soloing, his hi-hat does 2 and 4 every bar! This is to keep him from speeding up and screwing up the tempo for the end of the song. I played that solo in a band once and I had some people sweating. They were afraid I was not going to make back to the original tempo when I started pulling off sixtuplets between my toms and bass drum and the adrenaline started pumping. Luckily I made it. I was praticing this some tonight. I will try to make another mp3 when I get a minute. Independance is a big part of drumming. When you first started playing, it was a struggle playing the hi-hat,snare and bass drum at the same time. working on total 4-way independance is just one of the next steps. Being able to play in multiple time signatures with different limbs or soloing over a ostinato pattern on the bass drum(s) is what sets us apart from drummers like simon phillips, dennis chambers, jim chapin, terry bozzio and so many more. There are so many drummers that absolutely blow my mind. I can only aspire to be a great player like that one day. I know that practicing like crazy and overcoming these obstacles is the only way I will ever get there.

        [This message has been edited by animal (edited October 16, 2001).]


        • #5
          1929 Avedis Zildjian III of Constantinople, moved the family cymbal business to Massachusetts. He took a suggestion from Jo Jones, drummer for Count Basie, and mounted cymbals on a pole creating the "hi-hat." Another idea from Gene Kruppa, drummer for Benny Goodman, led to a big cymbal with a lot of ping called a "ride."
          (WSJ, 5/31/96, p.B1)

          from http://timelines.ws/

          I once heard that jones played a drum solo for the president using nothing but a hi-hat.


          • #6
            The hi-hat being played by the foot, low down, is why it is often called the "sock cymbal" by jazz players.

            Just my $.02 worth.

            - Hans
            - Hans


            • #7
              Another great one, Dan the Question Man. That phenomena is usually purposeful but for some is a time keeping habit that sometimes just creeps in aware or not I think. The sooner your limbs can operate totally independently, the better. But don't get caught in just quarters and eights, mix it up. Muscle memory is good, control and muscle memory is even better. Get out those Led Zep albums and follow Bonzo using just your feet and one hand for snare. Great (and fun) exercises.

              I however, generally prefer to "cheat", double bass all the way, often with left heal on left kick pedal and left toes on hat pedal, and sometimes even right heel on right kick pedal, and right toes on cowbell (or other percussion) pedal. One word of advice on double bass, make sure you always practice leading with either foot. If you can only lead 32nds with your right (or triplets for that matter), alternate lead foot when rehearsing until you can do it as easily with either foot. It will really open up your ability to improvise and make spontaneous things "fit". I wish I had started with that in mind, good technique is hard enough, breaking habits can seem even tougher.


              • #8
                I'm always marking time with my foot hat. I have no jazz background at all...I am self-taught by listening to mostly rock albums in the early to mid eighties, then playing in bands.

                One of my favorite "tricks" is to mark straight time in quarters on the foot and fill the in betweens with the stick while the hat is closed, so you get sort of a "tick...chick...tick...chick" kind of sound...no opens in there...Timing of the stick to hat is fun to get just right. If you don't, you'll get a disco beat...that's bad.

                A variation on this is to play eighth note ride with the down beats on the bow, in betweens on the bell, this little hi-hat pattern with the foot and left hand, some sort of kick drum thing, and the left hand coming over to the snare on two and four. It's really a very versitile, useful beat that fills a lot of "power ballads" for me. [Sometimes I even throw in a double stron=ke between the right and left hand (ride and hat)]. Makes it almost like a ride pattern in the chorus of the song with a shaker going, but with the hat playing the part of the shaker. The really nice thing is when you go to do a fill around the toms, the hat foot keeps going, to both mark time and to fill some of the sonic space.

                I also like to mark time in eighth notes (all of them) or just the off-beat eighths while doing normal ride patterns, kind of like a samba or similar latin beat would be (don't actually know much latin, so forgive me if that does not describe a samba at all ).

                You can hear a sample of this in my tune "Can't Stop" in the chorus sections, though it's a bit hard to hear with the tamborine going.

                My Updated Website: https://blades.technology


                • #9
                  My Gawd! So much analysis..., so much... thinking about it! What ever happened to just getting a groove on and seeing where it takes you? I must admit, I'm probably the most undisciplined drummer you'll ever see! And I truly get off on just being able to get everything to hit the right things at the right times! Hey, I'm just happy that I can finally start pulling off doubles on the kick after feeling for so long like someone injected my leg with Novacaine!

                  I just started keeping beats with the hats after flat-footing them for so many years. And, Dr. Kildrum, I am a complete gaggle of bad habits! Is there any hope for me?

                  Sure there is, 'cause I have a >ball< everytime I sit on that throne, turn up the music, and get that groove going!

                  Too easy!


                  • #10
                    Wow, red...tapping eights 'foot hat' all the way thru a tune? That's some endurance! Mix the kick in there and your legs really get a workout, eh? Thanks for the info and tips!

                    All drummers must have perfect, ripped, cut legs

                    The historical perspectives on this have been fascinating as well! Cool info, as always guys! This is a great way to pump up the 'Drumming IQ.'

                    32nd notes w/double bass...
                    That'll be another thread at some point! I'm just working with single kick for now, just to get the basics together before I riddle my 'grooves' with aborted triplets

                    Yup, when I bring home the double pedal, it's gonna get real ugly!

                    Back to the topic at hand, tho, Dr K I will use your tip and try some of Bonzo's beats the way you said....so I have to dig and find some of his slower stuff I'd likely have an aneurism if I tried to do that with "Rock n Roll!"

                    Hi, Bob! Yeah, I'm always questioning things like this about music...nearly drove my bass teacher mad when he was instructing me on theory Just a very curious musical mind...questions like this help me to better understand the instrument fully. Sometimes the intellectual connection makes musical lights in my head come on.

                    Dan's Music Site; melodic, ethereal rock and more! Please have a listen :^)


                    • #11
                      Definitely not knockin' it, Dan my man! I learn too! It just kinda struck me funny is all. I actually am finding that letting the left foot start keeping time pretty much gets the whole body going and that's a good thing.

                      It had really been a long time since I had sat at a kit when I got the V-Tubs, and I had really gotten quite rusty after all those years... and I really wasn't all that good back then, either! Imagine the disappointment I felt when I first sat at the new V-Tubs and discovered that I couldn't even keep a straight 4/4 beat if someone was keeping time for me on my head, with a Louisville Slugger! However, it's all coming back to me... kinda like riding a bike, eh?

                      Anyway, please take no offense... it's just that drummers aren't suppose to be so... so... intuhlekchewal, ya know?

                      [This message has been edited by HolShot (edited October 15, 2001).]


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HolShot:
                        ...What ever happened to just getting a groove on and seeing where it takes you? ...Dr. Kildrum, I am a complete gaggle of bad habits! Is there any hope for me? ...Sure there is, 'cause I have a >ball< everytime I sit on that throne, turn up the music, and get that groove going!
                        Excellent point. Notice I mentioned fun, improv, and making spontaneous things "fit" in my post. That's where it's at. Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowlege." Pretty good frame of reference, so I don't argue with it. Later someone said it better I think though, when they said, "Imangination is knowlege with a hard on."

                        BTW, someone mentioned Gadd's footwork. He's a tap dancer...as were a couple of Chapin's star pupils. No bullsh1t.


                        • #13
                          The analysis:

                          It came AFTER I figured out these patterns. There are a few things that I still come across now and again that I want to analyse so that I can repeat them. I have a great feel going and this little "thing" slips in there that is exactly what I want to play, but when I try to do it again, I get a mangled up mess. It's a ghost note thing usually.

                          Holshot: You can't be the most undisciplined drummer...I am. I cannot do rudiments...hell I can't even describe most of them to you. I don't know the "techniques" that people post about, though I've seen some tapes on them, I walk away saying, wow I may be able to incorporate about 1% of what I just saw.

                          I should have taken lessons. I should have played in band in high school. I am 34 now and been playing for about 19 years. Hard to learn new tricks.

                          So I do play mostly by feel and not much by logic. I have a few ruts taht I need to get out of, but playing the same types of music every week (Contemp Christian at church) leaves me in a very comfortable place. I must work on that, and make myself uncomfortable again. Learning new things is not comfortable...it's awkward.

                          My Updated Website: https://blades.technology


                          • #14
                            "Imagination is more important than knowlege."

                            I need that on my studio wall! Great quote.

                            Bob, I took no offense...you a good guy I was just explaining why I'm so interrogative about music.

                            Dan's Music Site; melodic, ethereal rock and more! Please have a listen :^)


                            • #15
                              I must work on that, and make myself uncomfortable again. - redbrick

                              Red, that's one of the big reasons Peart reinvented himself w/Gruber...in addition to feeling a certain metronomic stiffness creeping into his playing. The Peart Work in Progress video is so inspirational to me because it's great to see someone as great as Neil take all the trouble to change his approach and reinvent himself, and practice all the time to BE that good. He said he's not a natural like Rich or a master like Gadd, for example, and he NEEDS to work to be that good That's helped me in a lot of areas to want to be better, and certainly in all the instruments I play...or, try to play in some cases

                              I'm 34 as well, and have been at music SERIOUSLY since Dec 1999, with dabbling in guitar and bit in drums prior to that very intermittently from about 1984 to 1992. Nothing from 1992 to 1999.

                              So, when I'm approaching all these instruments, I'm just trying to keep myself from early bad habits as best I can by gathering info from great guys like all of you, teachers, some videos, and listening to the greats. Having said that, I would kill for 19 years of experience!


                              [This message has been edited by Dan the Speakerman (edited October 16, 2001).]
                              Dan's Music Site; melodic, ethereal rock and more! Please have a listen :^)