How To Play Drums In Half Time

If you want to change up the feel of a song, or simply add some variety to your beat, you may want to try playing in half time every now and then. Playing in half time is a tactic that changes the whole feel of a song or groove. Learning how to play half time drums is not that difficult at all; all you are doing is cutting the pulse of the beat in half. You will hear this in many songs out there already, so why not learn how to master this concept? Read through this quick article and you will for sure have a better understanding on this unique idea. This is a great way to add groove to your playing!

Half time is not cutting the speed of your drumming in half. I get a lot of students slow down when I say play half time, this is a big no no. What half time really is is cutting the pulse of the groove in half. The pulse of the beat is usually felt with the snare drum, so by cutting the snare in half you should get a half time feel. This is true for most beats, however sometimes you will need to change the bass drum pattern as well a little. The biggest thing you have to remember is to not make it complicated. Sometimes when drummers switch from half time to regular time, they think too much and end up throwing themselves off.

When you are switching to half time on the drums, you want to be aware of the tempo. Most beats involve your hi hat or ride cymbal keeping the tempo. When you are switching, your right hand will not change at all. Take this beat for example:


(If you cannot read sheet music, click here)

This is a basic 4/4 groove played on the hi hats, snare drum, and bass drum. Notice how the snare hits are on 2 and 4. So let’s cut the snare in half to create a basic half time feel. To do this, take out the snare hit on either 2, or 4. Try this beat below:


Now you can hear how the feel of the groove has changed. This is a basic half time pattern; however it doesn’t sound like it has much groove yet. That is because we have not changed the bass drum pattern. Now you do not have to change the bass drum to get a half time feel, as we saw above; however to get the best results, try to mix up your bass drum pattern to match the new beat. Let’s cut both the snare and the bass drum with this exercise to really make this beat groove:


Transitioning to and from half time beats can be done in many different ways. You can play a quick drum fill leading into it, or you can play a simple crash cymbal. Depending on how much time you are given, be creative. I hope this lesson has helped you improve your groove. Try chaning some of these rock beats, latin grooves, and jazz patterns into a half time feel. Adding half time beats into your everyday playing will create a totally unique feel for any drum beat or song!

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