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5-Minute Lessons

A Fever Beat is not a specific groove or beat (although some may argue the point), but rather it's an approach to playing various grooves.

The key ingredient found in a fever beat is the pulse emphasis placed on the HiHat or Ride pattern ... as well as the Rhythm Guitar, etc.

To fully understand what a fever beat is, let's get a little history.

Back in the mid-60's, Nashville singer/songwriter Bill Anderson put out a song entitled "I Get The Fever." The rhythmic feel he used on this song became so influential in Nashville studios that it soon became known as "the 'Fever' beat" or "the Bill Anderson beat."

I Get The Fever

Upon listing to the above audio example, notice how the Rhythm Guitar as well as the HiHat emphasize each eighth-note in the groove. This driving sound is the key ingredient for a groove to be considered a fever beat.

I typically call this an 8/8 feel ... but the fever beat is slightly different in that it not only gives equal emphasis to all the divisions of the beat, but they are accented or played aggressively. An 8/8 feel is when you are actually in 4/4 time, but playing your accompaniment parts (ie. HiHat) so that there is no emphasis that would hint as to the pulse. For instance, the rocking motion technique is typically used to give emphasis to the pulse of the music. Playing alternating down/up strokes or shoulder/tip of the drumstick on the HiHat is one example of the rocking motion. The down stroke or shoulder of stick creates an emphasis which can imply the pulse of the song (ie. 1 2 3 4). You can also reverse this to imply the upbeats or ANDS of the beat.

So in essence, a fever beat is another type of what I call 8/8 feel.

Fever beats are not limited to straight feels, or songs that are in 4/4 time. As long as the key ingredient, the equal division emphasis, is present in one or more accompaniment instruments (such as Rhythm Guitar or the drummer's HiHat or Ride), it can be classified as a fever beat. This means that you could play a shuffle, which has swung divisions of the beat, and make it a fever beat by giving equal emphasis to all of the strokes in the shuffle ride pattern.

What I find interesting in all of this is that the term "fever" actually describes the sound of the groove! The equal emphasis of the beat divisions gives a certain intensity to the groove ... perhaps like the intensity one might experience when their own body is running a high temperature ... or fever.

So who knows ... you might have been playing fever beats ... and you didn't even know it!


Bart Elliott

Bart Elliott is a degreed professional musician currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. His 37+ years in the music industry, over 100 albums to his credit, as well as his understanding of contemporary and classical music, makes him a complete and skilled master musician. A highly sought after drummer and percussionist, both live and in the studio, Bart is widely known as a top music educator, consultant and gifted teacher, appearing as a guest artist and clinician throughout the USA and abroad.

Bart Elliott is the founder and sole proprietor of DrummerCafe.com (f/k/a Drum Ring International) — established in December 1996.