Inside the beat


As well as counting the individual beats you need to know what's going on in between the beats. Commonly in popular music there are 4 beats to every bar and in between each beat you're likely to hear another note as well. As your foot taps down on to the floor the note is on the downbeat, if you hear another one when your foot is in the air it's on the upbeat. We count them 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & with the numbered beats on the downbeat and the &s on the upbeat. Again listening will make it all a lot clearer.

  • Count along with the beat, the big bass drum on the downbeat is the 1
  • The snare drum then plays the 2
  • Listen closely for the next bass drum hit, it's on the upbeat (your foot should be in the air) just after the 2 but before the 3, it's called the 'and of 2'
  • The snare comes back in on the 4
  • The hi hat cymbal is playing all the way through on both the downbeats and the upbeats.

The kick on the and of 2 would normally fall on the 3, placing it that half a beat early is a common way of driving the groove forward, listen yourself for the effect that it has.

In musical notation 8 to the bar looks like this:

Tap your foot and count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4. Can you clap the bass drum beat?