So you just got a drum set and are looking to play along with some popular music. Look no further, as the songs listed below are by far the easiest songs to play on drums.
We’ve included a link to the song, a brief overview of the parts, as well as written drum notation to help you read the music each drummer was playing when they recorded the song. We hope this list helps you play some of your favorite songs with ease!
Any of the drum notation referenced in this article is my own interpretation. The parts shown may not be the actual parts played by the drummers themselves. If you notice a variation on what you believe is correct, don’t chop my head off; it’s how I am hearing it. Thanks!
1) White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’
Without a doubt, Meg White’s drumming in ‘Seven Nation Army’ is by far the simplest and easiest to learn on the list.
Who doesn’t remember hearing the four on the floor kick pattern all the time on the radio? There are only three main sections to be learned throughout in the song.
The intro begins with a four-bar rest, followed by a simple four on the floor kick and floor pattern, with hi-hat splashes.
During the second half of the verse, we hear the entrance of the snare drum on beats two and four.
The notation is a follows:
Before the chorus hits, there is a simple two-bar pattern that begins with a crash and kick hit, followed by a floor tom build.
This section leads us into the chorus which is a simple rock groove using the kick, snare, and crash cymbal.
During the second time through the groove, there are quarter note triplets that offset the groove momentarily.
Here’s the notation:
If you can master these four sections, you will have learned the entire song. ‘Seven Nation Army’ is by far one of the easiest songs to learn as a beginning drummer.
Follow along with the score below.
2) AC/DC – ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’
While the grooves in ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ are simple, they are also timeless and iconic. I have a high suspicion that you have heard this song before.
Phil Rudd’s groove is right in the pocket and it feels good. While you will be playing the same two grooves over and over for the majority of the song, it’s good for you!
The two grooves in ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’:
Now it is an easy song to play, but don’t let undermine the value of the groove in this song.
If you’re already comfortable with the song, try to nail the feel. Really try your best to internalize the groove and fit into the pocket when you play along with this track.
Do not play on top of it. Instead, lay back and have a more relaxed vibe when you try to play this song.
3) The Who – ‘Eminence Front’
The Who’s ‘Eminence Front’ is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Though it doesn’t have a crazy drum part (and Keith Moon isn’t on the track), it still captures my attention with an awesome feel and some of the coolest sounding keyboard parts of all time.
So far on the list, ‘Eminence Front’ is one of the slower groove compared to others, sitting at just 98 BPM.
Even if you can’t master the introductory fill at :38, playing along to this song is rudimentary. There are little variations sprinkled throughout in the bass drum and hi-hat parts, but you’ll develop this over time.
Here’s the main groove:
Throughout the song, the groove builds, adding opening of the hi-hat before beats two and four, sixteenth subdivisions on the kick, and simple fills to lead into new sections.
4) Bon Jovi – ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’
Here’s another classic 80s jam. While the part is a little more intricate overall, it’s a great tune to learn for any beginning drummer.
The song was released in 1986 on the Slippery When Wet album and is still heard to this day by many.
Like many on this list, ‘Livin’ An A Prayer’ features heavy use of the “money beat.”
Tico Torres crushes the beat on this album and it’s no wonder why this album became so successful.
The chorus features the iconic quarter note bell groove. Check it out below:
5) Nirvana – “Come As You Are”
In the 90s, grunge music was all the rage. The album Nevermind would introduce the world to a new style of rock music, very different from its hairband predecessors.
In Nirvana’s tune, ‘Come As You Are’, Dave Grohl lays down a fantastically simple groove, especially in the verses.
The main voice element of the music bed is clearly the guitar riff, and the drums don’t step on it at all.
The pre-chorus features an incredibly iconic sixteenth-note snare drum fill, probably one of the most fun drum fills you’ll enjoy playing as a beginner.
During the chorus sections, Dave uses a lot more energy in his playing and thus may require a lot of endurance for a new player, so keep that in mind.
Here’s the verse groove:
Does this list imply that the drumming is bad since it’s a list for beginners?
Just because a drum part isn’t technically hard, it still has a feel. Many, in fact, all of the songs I have listed have great, grooving drummers that play these parts.
A lot of beginners get into drumming because they want to play super fast and extremely technical parts.
They see many drummers doing fantastic and mindbending performances. While there is a place for technically sound drumming, most of it is not in popular music.
Technical drummers often don’t have feel
Unfortunately, many of these technical drummers fail to even possess a feel of groove and often cannot step outside their world.
Metal drummers are a prime example of this phenomenon. Nothing is more annoying to me than insanely fast blast beats (most of them are programmed patterns anyway).
Neil Peart and jazz
One of my favorite drummers, Neil Peart, did many Buddy Rich memorial concerts during his career. He did great, but we all know he isn’t exactly a jazz drummer. The greats, like Elvin Jones and Buddy
Neil has been criticized harshly for his performances of jazz, however, I do appreciate him coming to the table and embracing jazz drumming when he had come from a technical background throughout his career in Rush.
Balance your obsession
That aside, if it were me, I wouldn’t become completely obsessed with technical prowess.
There’s a limit for me with musicians and drummers that I follow, and I like to balance my chop to groove ratio in my playing. I don’t care that your drum set has six bass drums and forty-seven toms. Concert toms are cool, though.
Featured image of Dave Grohl courtesy of via Flickr