Midi Reggae Drum Patterns

In music there are no iron rules, just golden ones. One of such rules or guidelines is the fact that the snare drum hits the third count in a bar, where the BPM settings are somewhere between 110-190. Another one is formed by four basic Reggae drum rhythms. With a couple of exceptions wherein a deliberate breaking of that golden rule takes place, every Reggae drum rhythm or pattern is a derivate from one of these four rhythms.

To show these four rhythms in their distinctiveness, all the snare drum and hi hat hits in the four rhythms are kept exactly the same. That's because the difference between rhythms in the the quartet has everything to do with the bass drum (kick drum) or 'drop'. Yes, indeed: the 'One Drop' is one of the four we're going to take a look at.

  • Let's take a look at six established DnB MIDI drum patterns and explore the differences between them. You can learn more electronic drum programming techniques in the June edition of Future Music. Step 1: In comparison to many drum-machine-driven electronic styles, '90s jungle is synonymous with sliced and resequenced breakbeats sampled from.
  • It's a full-blown midi library that's over-flowing with thousands of professional Reggae & Ska drum beats and rhythm patterns! You'd have to purchase thousands of drum books to even come close to the content in this library, and since they're all midi, you can hear the rhythm instantly with any MIDI instrument you have.

With a BPM set to 130, here are the four foundational Reggae drum rhythms:

38 free Reggae Drum loops and solo Drum recordings in our Track Collection. Play along to our Free Jam Tracks or Download Backing Tracks for Music Practice.

Free Midi Reggae Drum Patterns


A lot of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) comes with a 'Four On The Floor' or 'Four Drop' drum beat. The bass drum hits every four counts in the 4/4 bar. In Reggae, this rhythm has the name 'Steppers'. It's said to have been invented by Sly Dunbar as part of the Studio Bands of Channel One Studio's in Jamaica, and is often used in UK Roots and DUB as well as contemporary Eurodub and other (online) releases.

It's a powerful, militant rhythm that keeps flowing while in the same time almost instantly catches the attention of people in the dance. This is it:


ONE DROP Service center near me.

Midi Reggae Drum Patterns

The second rhythm is the oldest. It's called the 'One Drop' because, yes, it only has one drop and that drop happens to be just like the snare, on the third count. I'm by far not an expert on Bob Marley and the Wailers' catalogue but I would bet that the One Drop is the most utilized rhythm in especially the 1970's works of that well known Reggae act. Wailers' drummer Carlton Barret has perfectionized his playing of the rhythm to such an extend that I would consider him to be 'Mr. One Drop' where Sly Dunbar is 'Mr. Steppers'.

Because most popular Drum rhythms all start with at least a bas drum hit ('drop') on the first count of a bar, the One Drop has that special feel. Many people do not exactly know how to respond in their dance to the One Drop. Check it out:



In the early 1980's, a new style called 'dancehall' came to exist, with as one of it's center the CHANNEL ONE studio's, with their -then contemporary- house band the 'Roots Radics'. Some of my favorite Dub albums are from that period: the legendary Greensleeves Series by Scientist. A rhythm very commonly used in this early style of dance hall, is the Two Drop. It has a bass drum hit on the 1st and the 3rd count of every measure. The feel of the two drop is that of an 'easy does it', while it definitely goes well together with a pumping bass line. Here is the Two drop in sight and sound:



Reggae Midi Drum Patterns

The two drop can also be played without putting a bassdrum on the 3rd count: the feel instantly changes, and the beat becomes a bit more 'easy listening'. There is not a real name for this type of beat, but in Jah Roots everytime we talk about the rhythm, we speak about the 'half drop'. Therefore I would like to use that term for the rhythm in these chapters. Here is the 'Half Drop':


As said earlier, there are variations. One of them is a steppers with a Timbale on the 2nd-2 1/2 and 4rth-4 1/2 count of the bar. Another is a two drop with the first bar having a rim shot doing what the Timbale does in the previous example, where the second bar is a normal two drop. Yet a third one is a steppers with a snare or rim at the half counts after the 2nd and 4th count. You'll get the point: these are variations with obvious knowledge of the four patterns decribed in this chapter.


Another 'golden rule' I won't keep for myself here is this: use just one of the four patterns in your tracks. Where a well known live version of Bob Marley and the Wailers' 'No Woman No Cry' starts with a One Drop only to go over into a Steppers at a later stage can be done, it is very exceptional. I hear 50 examples of bad usage with every 1 good application of changing patterns. Especially with bands that have some need to expose their musical technicalities to an audience that is not waiting for such things but rather want to have a good time with music that keeps flowing.

Reggae Midi Drum Patterns

Things get even worse when you decide to continually ignore these four basic patterns. Ignorance shows, deliberate ignorance is lethal. In other words, do not expect to know how to make Reggae Music by thinking you're Bob Marley or Sly Dunbar and you can come up with your own rhythms just like that. Reggae is a rhythm more than anything else, and rhythms are simply played according to certain patterns.