When the same rhythm is placed at di↵erent beats in the bar, we say that the rhythm is displaced. In the example below, the quarter notes are shifted sequentially each bar across the 16th note subdivision.




Practice shifting between these displacements to a metronome. Make sure you count until you internalise the feel. Once you become comfortable with this, you can practice playing melodies around the kit including the bass drum whilst keeping a 1 note pulse with the hi-hat peddle.

The ability to shift rhythmic phrases across and between bars opens up infinite areas to explore the fills and groove ideas already in your repertoire. The power of displacement lies in the amount of rhythmic variety that can be generated from very simple and limited building blocks. Also, since displacement is more a mental than physical exercise, it can be practiced by both intermediate and advanced players alike.

To practice displacement, pick a simple rhythm and practice shifting it sequentially over a certain number of bars. For instance, we can turn the previous example into an effective exercise by playing the displaced quarter notes on the hi-hat foot over a basic rock groove as below.




For a fantastic coordination exercise, try mixing up the bass and snare patterns. See you how the lilt of the groove changes simply by moving the hi-hat across the repeating pattern.

Below is an example application inspired directly by Steve Gadd. The first bar below is straight 16th notes played between bass, snare, hi tom and mid tom. In the first bar, the down beat starts with the snare, and each subsequent bar shifts the snare forward by a 16th note. The foot hi-hat is kept steady throughout.




Below is the exercise above played by the computer at 170bpm. The 1/4 note pulse played on the hi-hat is steady, but appears to move as the 1/16 notes are displaced around the bar on the different voices.

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