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Motorik is the 4/4 beat often used by krautrock bands. Coined by music journalists, the term means "motor skill" in German. The motorik beat was pioneered by Jaki Liebezeit, drummer with German experimental rock band Can.[1][2][3][4] Klaus Dinger, another early pioneer of motorik, later called it the "Apache beat".[5]

The motorik beat is in 4/4 time and of moderate pace. The pattern is repeated each bar throughout the song. A splash or crash cymbal is often hit at the beginning bar of a verse or chorus. The basic pattern is as follows:[6] About this sound Play 

Beat 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Hi-hat x x x x x x x x
Snare x x
Kick x x x x x x


The word's use in music journalism may be derived from a punning modification of "motoric", a term long used by music critics to describe relentless ostinato rhythm, or simply from a combination of "motor" and the German "Musik".[original research?] The name may derive from the repetitive yet forward-flowing feel of the rhythm, which has been compared to the experience of driving on a motorway.[7] The motorik beat is heard in one section of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", a song designed to celebrate exactly this experience.


The drumming style of Moe Tucker, the drummer in The Velvet Underground, has specifically been characterized by music critic Chris Jones as "proto-motorik."[8]

Apart from the krautrock bands, the motorik has also been used by newer bands like Ultravox, Stereolab, Primal Scream, Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Fujiya & Miyagi[6]


  1. ^ Adelt, Ulrich (2016). Krautrock: German Music in the Seventies. University of Michigan Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-472-05319-3. 
  2. ^ Savage, Mark (23 January 2017). "Jaki Liebezeit: Can drummer dies aged 78". BBC News. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Millions, Kid (23 January 2017). "Love Time: Remembering Can Drummer Jaki Liebezeit's Otherworldly Groove". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Spice, Anton (22 January 2017). "Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit has died aged 78". The Vinyl Factory. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Kopf, Biba (2002). "Klaus Dinger interview transcript (2001)". The Wire. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Sick Mouthy blog: Top ten songs with the Motorik Beat". Archived from the original on 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  7. ^ Allmusic: Neu! biography:
  8. ^ Chris Jones (21 June 2007). Review of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" for the BBC. Retrieved 20 October 2007.