Seven Days – Sting

Approaches to Vinnie’s alternating hi-hat accents

I recently had a conversation about the hi-hat accents in Sting’s Seven Days, in particular how to execute them smoothly and consistently.  They provide a sense of stability and regularity against the irregular time signature, but to do this alternate between being on and off the beats.

So, I think that this presents two difficulties.  The accents themselves, and the time signature:

1. The basic pattern with alternating accents

There are two ways (and probably more!) to make the hi-hat part smooth.  A Moeller-type approach consisting of a downstroke, two taps and an upstroke works effectively.  If the taps and upstroke are played with the tip of the stick on the top of the hi-hats and the downstroke accent with the shoulder, a smooth flow can be achieved:

2. Approach one, with Moeller-type strokes

However, my preference is to use just downstrokes and upstrokes, but with only the accented notes using the shoulder of the stick.  I personally find that this creates a more relaxed flow of semiquavers:

3. Approach two, with a simpler down-up rocking motion

Next is the issue of the alternating onbeat and offbeat accents.  By using a regular time signature, you can gain familiarity with the accent patterns and offbeat bass drum and cross stick without the added complication of the accents alternating every bar or the more complicated time signature. The following two patterns can help with this. 

Repeat each many times, for several minutes:

4. On-beat accents in simple time
5. Offbeat accents in simple time

When this feels comfortable, go back to the original pattern, which will hopefully feel much more comfortable.

Click here for a free PDF of the above examples.

Good luck! 

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