Messing With Time

By Mike Cosgrove Originally Published in DRUM! Magazine's May 2005 Issue

This month’s exercise is based off of a basic sixteenth-note groove with backbeats on 2 and 4. The hi-hat is accenting every third sixteenth, providing a 3-against-4 feel. It starts differently each time, and will take 12 beats to get back to the original 1.

Think of each one of the three bars as A, B, and C. Play them all starting A, B, C; B, C, A; then C, A, B. Also, play each individual line repeating itself: just A, just B, and just C. It will have a weird repeat but you’ll get a different feel.

You can also add bass drum and hi-hat notes on or around the 3-against-4 accent flow. These are just baby steps to more elaborate grooves epitomized by people like Tool’s Danny Carey and many other drummers who like to mess with the time. It’s all about feel, so take your time to let it become natural.

Remember this is just an exercise, so make it your own by jacking it up!

DRUM! Notation Guide


Mike Cosgrove writes, records, and tours both with Alien Ant Farm and independently. He has studied with various teachers and also gives drum lessons in Southern California. Every morning for breakfast, he enjoys a heaping bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

More Lessons