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Some Ideas For Developing Your Afrobeat Drumming

It’s been a while since I got into my Afrobeat thing. I discovered the style largely through listening to Antibalas and Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra. From that followed much listening to Fela Kuti and Tony Allen.

I’ve written up a page of groove exercises based on what I found to be the most notable features of Afrobeat drumming. These include playing the 8th plus two 16ths pattern on the hihat or ride and playing the 1 and 1e (and the 3 and 3e) on the kick. The syncopated snare figures are also pretty typical.

The combination of the kick and hihat patterns was quite challenging to get flowing. I suggest, as with anything, start slow and focus on lining up your strokes evenly and precisely. Listen to your dynamics, the playing in general should be light. The snare and kick should have some attack and the cymbals should be airy. It makes sense to accent the &s on hihat and ride a little.

Once you can play these as written, try playing with the a two 16ths and an 8th on hihat, 8ths and then just the “&”s. Many of the recordings I’ve listened to have a shekere playing the hihat pattern in my written sheet. If you find yourself with a shekere-armed ensemble, play something else.


Download Afrobeat Drum Kit Groove Study PDF