virtuosoDrummer™ - Online Studies for the Serious Drummer

“Drumming in the 4th Dimension™” - Understanding the Basics of 4-Limb Performance

At our primary intention is to promote the highest technical achievements possible for set drumming. For this reason we pursue drumming development from the perspective of total utilization of all limbs in the creation of rhythmic and melodic percussion.

4th Dimensional Drumming is well described as the effective exploitation of all 4 limbs in the creation of music on the drumset.

In preparation of the 4th dimensional mindset, a thorough explanation of both “layered” and “linear” drumset playing is required here …

Fully layered playing always involves the simultaneous execution of disparate rhythmic figures each played by an individual limb. The separate limbs can be said to be “multi-stroking”. When 2 or more notes are played coincidentally, “layering” of the sounds occurs.

Linear playing can be represented by the alternating between 2 limbs (i.e. rudiment patterns) or the sequential execution of strokes among 3 or 4 limbs.

Layered/linear combinations include simultaneous performance of:
  • all 4 limbs playing disparate multi-stroked overlapping patterns
  • 2-limb linear alternating with each of the remaining 2 limbs playing layered multi-strokes (2+1+1)
  • two concurrent 2-limb linear patterns (2+2)
  • 3-Limb sequential patterns accompanied by 1-Limb multi-strokes. (3+1)
  • 4-limb sequential patterns
This diagram shows the continuum of fully layered to fully linear drumming including all possible limb combinations.
Layered Drumming
The ‘conventional’ approach to playing (vs. linear drumming), where patterns are played in layers, e. g. a ride pattern on top, bass pulse below and snare patterns in the middle. The vast majority of contemporary drumming is of the layered variety. -

Linear Drumming
Defined as a drumming style where hands and feet never (or at least rarely) strike at the same time. (Steve Gadd and Mike Clarke are known for their linear playing.) Also see Layered Drumming. -