Ostinato

An explanataion of what this term means.

An Ostinato is a phrase that repeats over and over within a piece of music. In drum kit terms this could be the feet played underneath a rudiment in an exercise, a Four On The Floor style kick in a groove or any other idea where a short rhythmic pattern is repeated over and over whilst other things are happening. In relation to modern rock/pop songs an ostinato is generally reffered to as a riff. Wikipedia has a good article on this subject that has audio extracts showing examples of ostinatos used within songs.

Below I have given a couple of written examples of drum kit parts where ostinati are used in different ways. In this first version the feet are playing a simple quarter note pattern that is repeated under all eight bars whilst the hands play a rhythmic pattern over the drums.

A short piece with a foot ostinato

In this version the ostiatno is the right hand rhythm played on the ride. The kick and snares then do there thing around this.

A short piece with a foot ostinato

Ostinati are an important concept to drummers, particularly when soloing. The main job of a drummer within a band is to keep time and using a simple ostinato to do that will allow you to be more musical within this role.