I’ve written before about the massive influence listening to Rush and Neil Peart had on me growing up,, and how this inspiration compelled me to playing the drums. Today I shall be more specific.

On Rush’s 1989 live album ‘A show of Hands’, there is a drum solo entitled ‘The Rhythm method’ (I was too young to understand the pun!). The CD is linked at the bottom of the page and is found at 49.35. The solo opens with rolling tom rhythms on a fast Bo-Diddley-esque  theme before including some quirky cowbell figures. It subsequently moves onto a snare solo which comprises the greater part of the solo with a call and response section included. He then switches onto the electric kit at the back finishes with some figures using double strokes and various paradiddles which really defies description (other than to say that it’s very ’80s!!). The part of the solo which I shall focus on is the aforementioned snare solo, for it captured my imagination so greatly that I felt as if I just had to learn how to play a drum solo! The reason I am sharing this, is that I hope it will inspire others to develop snare drum technique and their own snare drum solos so we can keep the tradition alive – even if you never play a public drum solo, developing snare drum technique will make you a better player!! The Neil Peart style snare solo is unusual in that it uses single strokes almost exclusively excepting the snare drum. Below is my tribute to this style of snare drum solo:

The themes and technique upon which this solo is built shall be expounded upon in subsequent posts. Below, is an analysis of the Neil Peart solo.

The snare solo can be broken up into two parts – the fast march (50:27 – 51:03) based around groupings of 16ths and 32nds over a quarter bass drum with up beat played on the hi-hat foot ending with a  single stroke16th note triplet roll – and a triplet based section including the call and response (51:03 – 52:14). I’ll deal with each section in turn.

  1. The fast march

To start with play 16th notes with a strong bass drum on the 1/4’s. Play around with the different places that you place accents over this roll. For instance, assuming a right handed player, accents played with the right hand will fall on either the 1/4s (downbeats) or the ‘and’s (upbeats). Try writing out bars of 16th notes, placing the accents on different hands and trying the play the result. Don’t cramp up the accents too much, as this will make the patterns impossible to play at high tempos. Below are some example patterns to get you started (practice Bo-Diddley rhythms).

Next practice chucking in the 32nd notes. The tempo that we’re aiming for is around 135bpm which is too fast to sustain single stroke 32nds, but you can throw in bursts of them. Exercises 1-5 are a good place to start. Example 5 is a phrase from the Neil Peart solo.

The final element of the first section is the 16th note accented triplet roll. The accent’s fall with quarter notes on the lead hand, giving this figure a duple as opposed to a triple feel (quite like the illusion of 32nd notes).  Again single strokes throughout. To develop this take a metronome set to a comfortable tempo and play 8th note triplets with your lead hand. Next add an accent on the quarter notes. Now double up with other hand playing straight triplets in between – voila you have the roll that Neil Peart is playing at 51:00. Gradually build the tempo using a metronome (see example 6)


The triplet section is slightly more subtle and will be dealt with in the next post!





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