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How To Play Sting’s “7 Days” Drum Beat

Gabor Dornyei  /  UPDATED Mar 5, 2023

Vinnie Colaiuta’s playing in Sting’s “7 Days” is a workshop on how to make odd times sound more like 4/4 time. In this lesson, Gabor Dornyei is going to break down this groove methodically so you can learn to play it exactly like in the recording – besides teaching you a few, amazing variations that will further develop your ability to play, feel, and be more creative in 5/4. Let’s break this puppy down.

Let’s start with a basic 5/4 groove just so you can get comfortable with playing in this time signature. Once you have that down, accent every second hi-hat note. This will offer a bit of a challenge since the accents don’t always line up with the snare drum like they would in a normal 4/4 beat. Throw some extra kick drums in and you’re well on your way!


Next, we’re going to turn our hi-hat pattern into eighth notes. Let’s strip back what we’ve just learned so we can focus solely on this, then slowly re-introduce the kick drum pattern and hi-hat accents back in!


And that’s the main groove! Now that we have that down, let’s add some extra flavors that Vinnie plays on the recording. First, let’s try opening our hi-hat on every accented note and leaving the following eighth note out. Try playing it the other way around, too. Notice how the two bars are simply switched between the following two grooves.


The next example is a shuffle beat that Vinnie plays over on the ride or splash cymbal as a build up towards the choruses. Since we’re in 5/4, the hi-hat notes are going to end up in places you’re most likely not used to. This is quite advanced, so don’t be discouraged if this takes a little while to get down.


As a final challenge… Let’s add some accents on the bell and keep the hi-hat going with our foot on counts two and four (then counts one, three, and five on the second bar).


More drum lessons from Gabor Dornyei:
Percussive Drumming & Independence
How To Drum With A Percussionist
One Shuffle Beat

Drumeo Team - We're professional, award-winning drummers and drum teachers, coaches, recording artists, and content specialists who are passionate about drums and helping drummers around the world. This post was written and/or edited by Sam Landa, Brandon Toews, Jared Falk, Dave Atkinson, or another pro on our team (which has a combined 1000+ years of drumming experience). Are you looking for inspiration, education, and support to take your playing to the next level? Join the Drumeo community today!

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