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The backbeat rhythm

The backbeat (or afterbeat ; English for return or lookup ) is an Anglicism for a stylistic device in music , especially when playing the drums , which has now become a standard in western popular music , especially rock music, in contrast to the more rhythmic pop music that tends to be is. The even beats (in 44 time, i.e. 2 and 4) are emphasized especially by the snare drum (small drum) or the closed hi-hat .


The backbeat was initially a rhythmic part of gospel music , where clapping of hands and the use of the tambourine were emphasized on 2 and 4 in the 44 time scheme. For the first time clearly used it was apparent from a backbeat boogie of Harry James (recorded on 30 November 1939), where he from the drums being played. In rockabilly , the emphasis on the rhythm is taken over by the double bass . The session musician Earl Palmer is considered to be the pioneer of backbeat drums, and his accent was first heard on The Fat Man by Fats Domino (December 10, 1949). With that, the backbeat found its way into rhythm and blues .

In rock & roll , jazz , popular music , reggae and folk music , the emphasis is usually on two and four, with ballads usually on three (one, two, three, four). A downbeat is achieved by leaving out the snare drum backbeat.

After its dominance in rock and roll, the backbeat also dominates the emphasis on rhythm in popular dance music .

Basic rhythm

The basic rhythm is usually the following:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4th +
Hi-hat x x x x x x x x
Snare x x
Kick drum x x

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Matt Dean: The Drum: A History . 2012, p. 208
  2. ^ Greg Scheer: The Art of Worship . 2006, p. 188
  3. ^ David Brian Huron: Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation . 2006, p. 250