Hand Patterns

Hand patterns are primarily used to give a rhythm momentum. They are somewhat similar to drum rudiments except that they are usually naturally derived and simpler.


Examples (rests are indicated by "-")


Alternating  r l r l r l r l .....



Alternating  r l r - l r l - ..... (inserted rests)



Alternating  r l r - r l r - ..... (skips every second left)


Short Tertiary  r l - r l - r l - .....

Full Tertiary   l r r l r r ....

Broad Tertialy  l - r - r - .... (polymetric)


Additional hand patterns may be found employed in specific rhythms.


Examples (Calypsos, two common hand patterns.)


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

|:, . , * , . ,:|

B   t O B   O

r   r l r   r  (An alternating type pattern)

r     l   r l  (An open pattern - no touches)


An alternating type pattern refers to the even spacing of one hand so that the opposite hand may be free to play between. This is a structure that permits alternation.


An open pattern is a pattern that adheres strictly to the sounded rhythm itself and has rests, but no touches.


With the alternating pattern, any note in a sequence can be struck. However, this is rather energy consuming because the hands are moving all the time.


The broken alternating pattern has built in hand syncopation:


1 & 2 & 1 & 2 &

r l r - l r l -


The second half is a 'mirror image' of the first. It also allows fexibility in timing. The following example shows the broken alt. pattern moving from an 8 to a 6 bit pattern:


1  2  3  1  2  3  1  &  2  &  3  &  4  &

1 & 2  & 3 & 4  & 1   2   3   1   2   3

r l r  - l r l  - r   l   r   l   r   l


by squeezing the rests out.


The short ternary pattern can be used for hocketts, just the same as the binary hocketts


r l - r l - r l -...   hockett, binary


The full ternary pattern is often performed with a stick in the right hand because it is very energy consuming.


Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming