The main drum part is almost universally in common time (4/4); meaning 4 quarter note pulses per bar. In its simplest form, time is marked with kicks (bass drum beats) on each quarter-note pulse, a snare or clap on the second and fourth pulse of the bar, with an open hi-hat sound every second eighth note. This is essentially a disco (or even polka) drum pattern and is common throughout house music and its derivatives (of which techno is one). The tempo tends to vary between approximately 120 bpm (quarter note equals 120 pulses per bar) and 150 bpm, depending on the style of techno.
Some of the drum programming employed in the original Detroit-based techno made use of syncopation and polyrhythm, yet in many cases the basic disco-type pattern was used as a foundation, with polyrhythmic elaborations added using other drum machine voices. This syncopated-feel (funkiness) distinguishes the Detroit strain of techno from other variants. It is a feature that many DJs and producers still use to differentiate their music from commercial forms of techno, the majority of which tend to be devoid of syncopation. Derrick May has summed up the sound as 'Hi-tech Tribalism': something "very spiritual, very bass oriented, and very drum oriented, very percussive. The original techno music was very hi-tech with a very percussive feel... it was extremely, extremely Tribal. It feels like you're in some sort of hi-tech village."