In order to master the drum set you must learn to do things in coordination and with a sense of simultaneous action. Often, you hit the bass drum at the exact same time as you hit the high hat, and other times you hit the snare drum at the exact same time you hit the high hat.
In order to master the back beat you must exceed those norms and find the perfect place to put your snare’s ‘Crack!’ Stanton Moore calls it “giving the full value to the back beat.” That is a reference to drawing terminology and I think it has some validity. In visual art, colors are an identity, but within that identity there are variations from light to dark, called the value. Shading the beat in either direction means moving it to the right or left in the context of time.
Playing behind the back beat may remind you of a flam. The differences are as follows:
- A flam is preceded by a grace note. The grace note is quiet and played slightly ahead of the beat.
- When playing behind the back beat, there is no pianissimo moment. The high hat is played right on the beat, but the snare drum is played slightly after the beat.
- volume levels are determined by your tastes
- and as always tastes are acquired through an acquaintanceship with tasteful things
I tried to draw this out visually. At the top of this post is a depiction of a straight back beat, and here next to this paragraph I have drawn out, with notes, how to play behind the back beat. Experiment and season to taste. This is an advanced Money Beat concept.
I’ve attached a video of me performing with Day VS Night. We’re playing our new song “Dramamine.” In it I utilize this technique. By playing behind the back beat I give a lot of feel, depth and power to this simple slow beat, and it helps the song chug along.