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Motorik is the 4/4 beat often used by, and heavily associated with, krautrock bands. Coined by music journalists; the term is German for "motor skill". The motorik beat was pioneered by Jaki Liebezeit, drummer with German experimental rock band Can.[1][2][3][4] Klaus Dinger of Neu!, 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 soundPlay 

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 German krautrock bands, the motorik beat has been used by bands from many different genres, most often in psychedelic rock, post-punk, indie rock and contemporary non-German 'krautrock' bands. Notable artists include King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, Public Image Ltd., Ultravox, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo and Moon Duo.[9]


  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. ^ Southall, Nick (2012-06-19). "Sick Mouthy blog: Top ten songs with the Motorik Beat". Sick Mouthy. Retrieved 2018-01-30. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Neu! — Neu!". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  8. ^ Chris Jones (21 June 2007). Review of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" for the BBC. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  9. ^ Arizuno, Lee (May 22, 2009). "Motorikpop: A Secret History Spotified". The Quietus. Retrieved August 29, 2018.