"As a professional drum teacher, I find this website to be the absolute best on the internet. So many of my students have benefited from the vast amount of songs available, and each one is extremely accurate and clear to read. It's worth every penny!" -Owen Liversage
It is one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the year to have found Dan at Drumscore that does such an efficient, detailed job for such a way-more-than reasonable price. It's actually incredible and I can't recommend him enough." -Greg Schlotthauer, Los Angeles
"Dan Brigstock's drum scores are the best around! Rarely have I waited more than a day to receive my requested scores and when I get them they are absolutely flawless! No one can top Drumscore.com!" - Elicia Kim, California
"Dan has always provided a prompt and efficient service. He is very friendly, helpful and a pleasure to deal with. I will continue to use Dan as he is my number one drum score provider" - Brent Henderson
"Drumscore request service is awesome, Dan is a very nice guy, he answers all my questions, he is good at what he does ... The sheet music matches the songs very well ... I would not hesitate to order again." - Bob Simmons, Illinois
"As a relatively new drummer (2 years) it has been great to not only get my requests handled quickly (and in a format I can read!) but to have Dan’s help and advice is just wonderful. I highly recommend the service." - Victoria Butler, New York
"Dan Brigstock is the best in the business by far. He not only transcribes drum scores for a wide variety of musical genres, he also provides support with regards to music notation and theory." - Tom Stylianos
Drum Sheet Music / Transcriptions / NotationDrum sheet music is an excellent resource for learning to play songs. Music notation for drums is somewhat unique because the drums are what's called "unpitched" percussion. Whereas the notes for pitched instruments correspond to a note letter, such as a C, D, or F, notes in drum sheet music represent specific parts of the drum set (e.g. snare, cymbal, hi-hat, etc.). For a long time, music publishers considered drum sheet music to be undesirable to drummers, believing that a drum part needed to reflect only the general feel of the song and provided only a basic supportive role. Therefore, the creation of note-for-note drum sheet music was neglected. However, drummers really are interested in learning to play like their favorite drummers and reproducing the classic drum parts of the past and today. Studying other drummers' styles and techniques is one of the best ways to develop as a drummer. OnlineDrummer provides instant access to note-for-note drum sheet music for hundreds of songs, and we continue to add to our collection. You can view our full catalog here. You can also learn more about drum notation here.
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Free Online Sheet Music for Drums
I have included a list of some of the best free drum sheet music websites that have hundreds, if not thousands of drum tabs and sheet music out there. Some of the sheet music is printable and will help you get started with basic drum beats all the way to advanced songs. If you don’t see your website here and you have a great drum resource, let us know and we can add you to the list.
List of Websites That Have Free Music for Drums
One website I would like to mention is a fantastic resource for drummers offering hundreds of different drum riffs, lessons and sheet music for drums. Also, if you are a member you will be able to use their tools and files including original scores, transcriptions, and drum mp3’s. http://www.8notes.com/drums/
Drum bum has a been a great resource to drummers for many years and they have thousands of Drum Tabs, Drum Lessons, and Sheet Music Tabs. http://drumbum.com/drumtabs/
Another great resource for popular song transcriptions for the drum. http://www.drummingmatt.com/drum_transcriptions.php
Drum Ninja is a huge resource and offers many requested transcriptions that you can download and use later. Drum Ninja’s transcriptions are accurate and the drum sheet music is easy to read. http://thedrumninja.com/drum-transcriptions/
If you are just getting started learning drum music and how to read drum notation then this is the place to start for you. Lots of free training inside. http://learndrumsforfree.com/category/drum-lesson-tags/snare-drum-sheet-music
Online Drummer’s website is huge and has a lot of material for drummers on there like free sheet music and videos. http://www.onlinedrummer.com/
You can spend all day on mind of music look for different sheet music and only scratch the surface. Check them out: http://www.mindformusic.com/index.php/
Drum Score has many different resources for drummers like playing guides, sheet music, and transcription services. http://www.drumscore.com/
Think drummers never need to study music? Think again! Drum sheet music is a great way to understand your favorite songs and beats and help you remember them later.
Drum sheet music is written on the same five line staff as traditional music. At the outset of the piece, you’ll see the time signature. Written like a fraction (4/4 or 7/8, for example), the time signature tells you the number of beats to experience in each and every measure and what the rhythm must be. You need to see the number of beats per minute on top of the staff, close to the time signature. The beats per minute or BPM tells you how quick or little by little to try out the beat.
Reading Percussion and Drum Notation
This course is designed to supply you with a speedy-summary of all of the drum notation icons utilized on this web site. You can imagine this site like a drum-key or legend for those various drum established sounds which you perform inside fills and beats, and solo patterns. If you are ever uncertain about what is to be played within certain sheet music exercises, you can refer back to this page.
Note: Every single measure involves a number of quarter notices that are recurring around the staff to notate a variety of drum notes and sounds. Keep watch over the top to bottom note and position-shapes. Those are the primary distinctions involving what you will be playing on the drum set.
Just what are Measures And Bar Lines?
Music is published on the music staff, which functions 5 parallel side to side lines. The initial thing you will see created in the staff will be the clef; the drum/percussion clef seems like a top to bottom rectangle and it is used in combination with percussion tools. With percussion instruments in a drum set up, information created on distinct places and lines show that drum, bass drum, or cymbal you will play. When looking at the staff, it is split up into personal measures and contains slender straight lines referred to as bar lines. The amount of beats in every measure is dependent upon the time signature.
Just what are Time Signatures?
Time signatures are created like fractions. The sheet music lets you know the number of beats which will be in each and every measure. The base quantity suggests how big the note that is represented of the length of a single beat. For instance, from the time signature of 5/4, there are five beats in each measure and the quarter-note lasts for one beat. The time signature is published at the start of the component of music and where ever there exists a meter change. As most music is in 4/4, the time signature is frequently abbreviated by using a big note “C,” indicating “common” time.
Dotted Notes & Rests
At times you will visit a note or possibly a rest by using a little dot written next, to it. This indicates that the note will last 50 percent longer. Alternatively, 1 1/2 times its normal length.
Note & Rest Values
Notes and rests may be found in various measures, which can be composed as fractions. For every single size note, it comes with an equal size rest. The rest and note values include whole (1/1), half (1/2), quarter (1/4), eighth (1/8), sixteenth (1/16), and thirty-second (1/32). These fractions symbolize the styles in the notes and rests. By way of example, two eighths fit in the space (or time) of one quarter, so eighth-notes are twice as fast as quarter-notes. These interactions outline the measures (and speeds) of the notes. Rhythms are authored by making use of mixtures of notes and rests, so, it is important to memorize them to quickly identify and perform the described rhythms. You will see many numerous and distinct elements of a music note. When looking at the note head, flags and also stems. Knowing them will assist you to figure out how to identify notes.
How to Count Rhythms and Repeats
The easiest way to discover rhythms is always to recognize these with the tiniest notes value required to be played. If you look at almost every drum sheet music, it means checking sixteenth-notes. In 4/4, sixteenth-notes are counted 1-e-&-ah-2-e-&-ah-3-e-&-ah-4-e-&-ah. Now that we are looking at sixteenths, what a sixteenth-note or rest will last for is 1 count, an eighth-note or rest is held for 2 counts, a quarter-note orrest is held for 4 counts, a rest or half note will last for 8, while a whole-note or rest will be held for 16. Recurring indications are employed to abbreviate a bit of music and reduce page turns.
Beginners Guide to Play the Drum Rudiments!
The drum rudiments would be the foundations for all those drum fills and also drum beats. Figuring out how to perform all drum rudiments will enhance your drum skills with massive progress along with fill and beat options that you simply have not considered yet. Understanding and using the drum rudiments to your drumming is probably the most critical elements of actively playing the drums. But discovering the drum rudiments is probably the most above-checked drumming concepts. Here is a great resource that is free to check out on rudiments: http://www.40drumrudiments.com
Drum Sheet Music: How To Read & Write It (Including Drum Key)
Updated: June 27th, 2021
Being able to read drum sheet music has been one of the greatest assets in my drumming career so far! I know that not all the drummers are interested in it but for my own professionalism, I prefrred to learn it.
Seriously, it doesn’t matter whether I walked into the rehearsal room of a new band or joined an orchestra. Once they saw that I could sit down in front of a piece of paper (and a drum set of course) and just start playing with them – they were impressed.
And I’m not saying that in order to brag. Rather, I want to motivate you to learn to read drum sheet music too. For drummers who can’t are a dime and a dozen. And once you can, this will make it so much easier for you to be picked by a band – or whatever formation you want to join – instead of begging to be considered. Because knowing how to read drum sheet music will help you to be differentiated from the others.
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So without further ado, let’s jump in: I’ll take you from absolute zero to reading a fairly complex four-bar phrase in the first half of the article. It’s not difficult but somewhat technical – so please bear with me.There are also some books that can help you with drum sheets. I can recommend you to have a look at Master Studies.
And because you can impress even more (or earn money) by being able to write drum sheet music yourself – I’ll throw in some tips on that in the second half of the article – including my favorite free drum sheet music software.
Table of Contents
Reading Drum Sheet Music
It is the visual representation of the played music. Think of drum sheet music as a set of 2 layers of symbols. And the first layer, the groundwork, is the musical staff:
The only thing you need to know here is that the staff is made up of five lines on which our notes will be placed. And these will tell us whether to hit a cymbal or a certain drum…
Note Placement or “the Drum Key”
Let’s first look at where each drum or cymbal sits on the staff.
There are various version of this so-called “drum key”, but once you get the concept you can read ’em all. So please notice that:
- The drums are signified by “proper” notes while the cymbals are signified by little Xs
- That the hi-hat and the ride cymbal sit on the same line. Always play the hi-hat unless stated otherwise.
The easiest way to remember / make sense of these positions is to recognize that the height of a note in the 5-line system approximates to where you play the associated drum / cymbal.
For instance: You play the bass drum and hi-hat foot with – guess what- your feet so they are furthest down in the staff. By contrast, the cymbals are situated up above your drums (and much higher than your pedals), so they are placed highest in the staff.
So know you know which cymbal or drum a certain piece of sheet music tells you to play. But how do you know when to play it?
Here is how to read drum notes. When to play a note is where the second layer of symbols comes in. And the most important symbol of this layer is this:
It will be placed at the very beginning of each piece of drum sheet music and you can safely ignore the number at the bottom for now.
Rather, focus on the number at the top which tells you how many notes can fit into a bar (i.e. a part of your sheet; more on that in a second…).
So? 4 notes, right?
Jep. But what about this “bar” thing?
Well, 4 notes for an entire piece of music wouldn’t be cool. It would give about 0.1 to 4 seconds of music (if you made it awfully slow).
But fitting in, say, 400 instead of 4 notes wouldn’t be helpful either, because unless you’re an advanced musician, you need to count notes to be able to follow along. And you’d certainly lose track when trying to count to 400 and to play drums at the same time.
That’s why sheet music writers came up with the idea of bars (or “measures”) which are signified by a vertical line like this:
This way you can fit 400 notes into a piece of sheet music – giving you minutes and minutes of music – while only having to count to 4, because now the sequence of 400 notes would be broken into 100 bars containing 4 notes each.
Drum Music Notes
So you have your piece of drum sheet music in front of you and you’re counting “1, 2, 3, 4”? Cool!
But what to actually play while counting?
This is what notes tell you.
The most important ones are listed below and in order to read drum sheet music you need to be able to distinguish them by the way they appear in the “note” section (circle filled or unfilled; with or without vertical line; with or without tail).
But: don’t try to learn them by heart now; rather, come back later once you encounter problems in your actual reading of drum sheet music.
For now, let’s focus on the “length” column and imagine we were counting “1, 2, 3, 4” again. You’d then count and hit your drums as follows:
- Playing a “whole” note, you’d hit a drum (or a cymbal) on count “1” and then wait for 3 more beats (i.e. the “2”, “3” and “4”) so you’d have covered four beats in total.
- Playing a “half” note, you’d hit on count “1”, wait out count “2”. If there was another “half” note after that, you’d hit again on “3” and wait out “4”.
“Whole” and “half” notes are good for understanding the concept, but they actually almost never appear in drumming. So let’s look go over the remaining three note values one by one:
A quarter note takes up one beat, so you’d hit on count “1” and be done with it by the time you count “2”. Let’s assume for a second that what follows would be another quarter note, and another, and another. These 4 quarter notes would fill up a whole bar and be counted as follows:
“1, 2, 3, 4” and a hit on each of those counts – that’s all there is to it.
An eighth note, by contrast, only lasts half a beat, so half of each of your counts. You’d hit on “1” and the eighth note would end exactly mid-way between counts “1” and “2”.
But how to determine the exact middle between two counts? Well, by way of a more finely-grained counting system.
Instead of “1, 2, 3, 4”, we’d now count “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”. And hitting on count “1”, we’d now that the eighth lasts exactly until our first “and”.
So let’s again assume that a whole bar would be filled with eighth notes. This would give us a sequence of 8 eighth notes and look like this:
How do you play that? Right: you hit on counts “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”
Ready for the finale?
Sixteenth notes are shorter yet. They only last for one fourth of a beat. So we need a yet more finely-grained counting system:
“1, e, and, a, 2, e, and, a, 3, e, and, a, 4, e, and, a”. Hitting on count “1”, you’d know that one sixteenth note would exactly last until count “e”.
And how many sixteenth notes will fill up a whole bar?
16! And in a piece of drum sheet music this would look and be counted this way:
The Basic Rock Beat
The final step is to take the information about note values and combine it with your knowledge about note placement from the beginning of the article (that tells you which drum / cymbal to play).
You need both to deciper a rock groove like the following (we will break it down together in a second):
The first thing to do is to isolate the different drum / cymbal parts. In this case, there is:
- one (the upper) for to be played on the hi-hat
- one (in the middle) to be played on the snare drum
- and one (down below) to be played on the bass drum.
Now let’s focus on the hi-hat part and its note values to find out how we’d have to count and play.
In this case, the hi-hat is notated in eighth notes so you’d have to count and play in “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”.
Initially it can help a lot to write out how to count the groove, which would look like this:
Now that you can count and play the hi-hat you’d move on to the the second drum part in the middle (for the snare drum).
And since we’ve already written out the counting pattern, we immediately see that the snare is played two times in this bar: once on count “2” and once on count “4”. Easy enough right?
Moving on to the bass drum part at the bottom, it’s equally simple. You’d have to hit the kick pedal on counts “1”, “3” as well as on the “and” following “3”.
Put this all together and you get this groove (jump to 2:43 of the video):
And the cool thing is: once you’ve understood the system so far, you’ll be to figure out how to read another rock groove on this planet too.
The icing on the cake is now to learn how to read a drum fill. This will really spice up your drumming:
A Basic Drum Fill
See for yourself if you can already bring a bit of order into this accumulation of dots and lines:
If you’ve figured out that this fill in consists of 16th notes you’re exactly right. And we’ve got sixteen of those – a whole a bar, that is.
So you’d count this fill as: “1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a”. Again, it’s helpful to write this out:
And the procedure is exactly like before: isolate the parts being played on different drums – in this case 4 – and realize that each of those parts consists of 4 hits on a certain drum:
- Four hits on the snare drum on counts “1 e and a”
- Four hits on the high tom on counts “2 e and a”
- Four hits on the middle tom on counts “3 e and a”
- and four hits on the low tom on counts “4 e and a”
I can’t help repeat myself: “easy enough, right?” 🙂
Here is a video of the fill being played (jump to 4:02 of the video).
Congratulations – you know the rules of the game of reading drum sheet music. But I want to give you one more opportunity for guided practice. It looks like this:
This four-bar phrase might seem intimidating, when actually it isn’t. Because looking closer, you’ll realize that the first 3 bars are exactly the same.
So figure out 25% and be able to play 75%. That’s a pretty sweet deal – and it’s actually very common in drumming. I estimate that on average 50-75% of the bars of any drum sheet consist of the same pattern played over and over again.
But back to our four bar phrase and the first three look-alike bars. Let’s zoom in to wrap our heads around it:
You do this – of course – by focusing on the hi-hat part at the top which is – yet again – counted and played in eighth.
The second part, for the snare drum, is played – yet again – on counts “2” and “4” and the new thing here is an additional hit on the “and” after count “4”.
The bass drum part (at the bottom) might seem strange to you and that is because it contains a “rest” – the small thing on count 3 – which we haven’t covered yet.
Now, rests are the opposite of notes. and, as the name suggests, rests tell you when decidedly not to play.
Focusing on the bass drum part, there are obviously lots of moments in the bar where you don’t play, so actually the author could have put in many more rests. For some reason he didn’t, but that need not concern us.
The only thing that you should note is that the symbol on count “3” tells you not to play anything, so you’re left with 2 hits on the bass drum in this bar: on count “1” and count “and” after “3”.
Play this groove three times and you arrive at the last bar in the four-bar phrase, which contains a fill in as a kind of finale. Let’s zoom in on it:
So what do you do
Right: isolate the drum parts on the various drums:
- Counts “1” & “and” & “a” on the snare drum
- Counts “2” & “and” on the bass drum
- Counts “3 e and a” on the snare again
- And now something a little new: two parts played simultaneously on count “4” – the bass drum and the crash cymbal.
And there you have it. In a few dozen minutes you’ve gone from zero to reading a complex four-bar phrase.
So imagine what you could do with a little practice like this every now and then? and where you can use drum sheet? check these pages.
Writing Drum Sheet Music
I promised to also throw in some tips on writing drum sheet music.
This comes in especially handy when you join an existing band and are forced to learn dozens of songs that are new for you in a short amount of time. For chances are you won’t be able to learn them all by heart until the first rehearsal.
So I always write out drum charts for the songs and bring them along for the first few rehearsals.This way, I don’t have to worry about what to play and can focus on playing it well
And since you already know how to read drum sheet music you implicitly know how to write it too. So:
I won’t bore you with the details and instead show you my favorite tool for writing drum sheet music:
I use a notation program called Musink to write out all my drum parts. And the best part: it’s free and easy to use!
Here are a couple of screenshots so you can see what it looks like:
Also Read: Best Drum Machine
And here is a YouTube tutorial on how to write drum notation in Musink.
I hope you’re now well on your way to reading and writing drum sheet music.
Filed Under: LearningSours: https://www.kickstartyourdrumming.com/drum-sheet-music/
Music sheet drum
Music sheet for drums: download, print and play.
Drum sheet music free download In this page you can find all the drum sheets corresponding to the online basic and advanced video drum lessons, available in pdf format. Pdf sheets download is free. In the drum video lessons the virtual drummer plays online at the needed speed the drum sheet music that appears on the screen. His performance of the exercises makes the music sheet for drums readable even by beginners and self-taughts who can, step by step, master the drums and percussion instruments musical writing.
Learn to read the drum sheet music
Drum set elements The graphic symbols of drum set elements in drum sheet music.
Notes and Rests Notes and rests value in drum sheet music.
Tie and Dot Tie and dot in drum sheet music.
The drum sheets of this method for drums and percussion instruments contains transcriptions made listening to the recordings and studying the styles of great drummers, to recreate the music sheet for drums as much as possible similar to the original performance and the sensitivity of the original drummer.
Topics in basic and advanced video drum lessons and in music sheet for drums of the lessons online are: Rudiments & Fundamentals, Coordinated independence, Basic drum beats, Advanced drum beats, Snare drum studies, Drums grooves, Songs drum parts and Drum solo transcriptions, with transcriptions of songs and grooves by John Bonham, Phil Collins, Stewart Copeland, Steve Gadd, Ian Paice, Jeff Porcaro, and transcriptions of drum solos by Michael Bland, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Dave Weckl, Tony Williams. In all the drum video lessons the music sheet for drums is played in real time by the virtual drummer.
How To Read & Write Drum Sheet Music (Drum Notation Guide)
Everything you need to know about drum notes and drum score, collected in a handy drum notation guide
On your journey to becoming a better drummer, learning how to read and write drum sheet music is incredibly important. In fact, clearly understanding this language of drumming is a superpower.
Drum sheet music allows drummers to play new drum beats and perform songs without hearing or practising them beforehand. Drum music is made up of the percussion clef, drum notes, drum keys, crotchets, time signatures, quavers, semiquavers, drum fills, and bars, all precisely placed on the staff.
Though the ability to play music without ever hearing it may seem almost magical, once you understand the notes of drum sheet music, you’ll unlock this ability too.
In the same way that there are myths about how hard it is to learn drums, the idea of reading sheet music feels way outside the comfort zone of many drummers.
I wrote this drum notation guide to prove that it’s really not that difficult…
Reading drum sheet music is a great skill to assist you with your drumming even when you are first starting out playing, even if you’re learning without a drum set.
Gaining an understanding of how drumming patterns work before you take them to the drum set will give you a leg up and make it easier to understand and learn to play drum music that you love.
We recommend reading from the start of this drum notation guide to get the most benefit as each section helps you to understand the next more clearly.
However, you are welcome to use the links below to take you to each section individually if you’re returning to this guide.
How to read and write drum sheet music
- Learn the modern way to read drum sheet music
- Try out drum notation software
- Place your notes on the staff
- Choose the correct clef
- Remember the drum key
- Read your first drum beat
- Understand note lengths and note values
- Recognise crotchets
- Include a time signature
- Divide your music into bars
- Write drum score using crotchets
- Distinguish quavers from crotchets
- Use semiquavers to add variety
- Develop your reading ability to include drum fills
- Bring it all together by writing with crotchets, quavers and semiquavers
- Add rests to create space in your drum sheet music
- Discover our top tips for improving your reading
How to read drum music (the modern way)
Back in the day, learning to read music was, to put it simply, exceptionally dull.
No-one wants to sit around writing out squiggles that feel completely detached from the music that they love to play.
Thankfully, things have moved on a lot in the music reading world and learning this skill is way more creative, fun and easy-to-learn than it used to be.
So what’s different?
The old system involved taking drum lessons with endless books of music theory and drawing out different notes with pen and paper.
But now, sheet music apps and technology allows us to get instant feedback on what our sheet music sounds like.
When learning music in your drum lessons, once you’d drawn out or copied notes, you wouldn’t really have any idea what they sounded like.
You’d have to ask a teacher to play or sing it for you.
Now we have our very own personal teacher, available 24/7.
This new teacher is drum music notation software.
Drum music notation software
I know you’re ready to get started learning drum sheet music and I promise it’s on its way!
In my experience, one of the best ways to get the hang of reading music quickly is to get a free trial of some drum music software (PC or Mac only).
You’ll still benefit hugely from reading this guide without using this tool, but my experience is that you’ll have more fun if you do!
So why do I recommend this?
The software allows you to write out an idea in drum sheet music and then hear it back instantly.
Here’s a beat I wrote out earlier:
You can check in to see if you made any mistakes, and it really speeds up your learning curve.
This allows you to create a really strong mental link between the notes you see on the paper, and the music you make on the drums.
Which drum music notation software should I try out?
After a lot of experimentation, I’d personally recommend you get a free trial of Guitar Pro.
As you’ll probably have guessed, Guitar Pro doesn’t just do drum music, but it’s by far the simplest software I’ve ever used for drum notation.
It’s super easy to pick up and you’ll be expressing your creativity in no time.
So, without further ado, let’s learn to read drum music notation!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of drum notes and notation, we first have to build the scaffolding that our drum notes will sit on.
We will be placing all of our drumming ideas onto five lines known as the staff (pronounced ‘stave’, like the word ‘rave’).
On the five lines, and in the spaces between them, is where we shall place our notes.
These lines neatly break up our notes and avoid the whole thing turning into an unreadable mess.
We want to be able to read through our music quickly and easily while playing a song, which is what makes the staff so important.
The drum clef
The problem is that all kinds of different musicians use the staff.
So how do we know that what we’re reading is drum sheet music?
Let’s face it, we’re going to look a bit silly trying to drum our way through a bassoon solo or a Spanish guitar melody if that’s what the sheet music was intended for.
Fortunately, us drummers have banded together and come up with a symbol of our own that you’ll see at the start of most drum music.
This tells you categorically that what you’re reading is designed for the drums.
This symbol is called the drum clef, or percussion clef.
If I’m being totally honest, we probably could have chosen a better one, because that symbol looks suspiciously like a pause button.
Confusingly, straight after you see that pause button, get ready to play!
How to tell drum notes apart – the drum key
It’s time to start whacking some notes onto our staff.
But we can’t be throwing them around all willy-nilly.
It’s crucial to know – every drum has its own special place on the staff.
If you don’t put the note on the right line or in the right space, drummers will play something entirely different to what you intended.
Then your epic drum solo will instead sound like your drum kit falling down some stairs.
To avoid this potential catastrophe, we need to learn the drum key.
A drum key simply shows you which line or space of the staff represents a particular drum or cymbal.
Different keys are mostly the same, with small variations depending on the publisher of the music.
For example, different drum keys will contain different variations of the crash cymbal.
In most music scores, the crash cymbal looks like this:
But it could also look like this (or any other number of small variations):
When writing drum sheet music, you’ll typically use a cross to represent a cymbal, and a black circle to represent a drum.
As you get towards the more exotic end of cymbals, drums and drum techniques, these markings become a bit more flowery and exciting, but that’s a discussion for another day.
You don’t have to learn all of the drums and cymbals on the drum key now, but just know that these are the notes that turn up most often in drum sheet music.
Reading your first drum beat
It’s finally time to plot out and read your first drum beat!
To write out this beat, we have to understand one final piece of drum music theory.
Note lengths and note values
A note’s length/value tells you how long that note lasts in the music.
If you’re playing a slow old blues track, you’re likely to have big old note values with lots of time taken up by each note.
As a result, the music feels slow and relaxed. Everyone is taking their time with each note.
If you’re into heavy metal, and you’re playing thunderous double bass with both feet, the note values are likely to be a lot smaller, with lots of them squeezed together.
This makes the music feel fast and frenzied. These are the kind of notes you’d be likely to play in a drum solo too.
DID YOU KNOW? Frank Zappa famously wrote a piece called ‘The Black Page’. It was filled with so many small note values, pressed so close together, that the page appeared to turn almost completely black with ink.
Starting it all off with the crotchet
The easiest note value to get the hang of is the crotchet.
Quite simply, a crotchet represents one beat of music.
When a drummer (perhaps you’ve done it yourself) shouts at the start of a song ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’, they are paying homage to the humble crotchet.
All they are doing is counting out 4 crotchets to kick the song off (known as a count-in), setting the speed at which the band will play.
Have a look at some crotchets in action with our first drum beat example laid out in sheet music.
Here’s how it sounds as you’re having a look at the music.
HELPFUL TO KNOW: In all the audio clips in this guide, there is a count-in of 4 clicks. After that, the drum beat repeats four times, which makes it easier to press play and have a look at the music at the same time.
If you’re reading this on mobile, choose the ‘listen in browser’ option when listening to the beats to make it easier to follow along with the article.
You see how every note has that long stick either pointing up or down?
That long stick means the note is a crotchet!
Anytime you see that golf club stick poking up or down anywhere, think crotchet.
A bit further on down the tracks, we’ll look at ways you can add decorations to the golf sticks to change the value of the notes, but that’s not important right now.
In the example above, I’ve written a bass drum crotchet, followed by a snare drum crotchet, followed by another bass drum crotchet, followed by a snare drum crotchet.
If you wanted to, you could count ‘1,2,3,4’ over this, with one and three being the bass drums and 2 and 4 being the snare drums.
In fact, this pattern is the foundation behind many of the different drum grooves that we play.
Can you hear this crotchet rhythm of bass and snare in any of your favourite songs?
My personal favourite example is ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson. If you have a favourite song that features this common beat, let us know in the comments!
TIP: Don’t worry about whether the stick/golf club of the crotchet is pointing up or down, it doesn’t matter. We just put them one way or the other so that they are easier to read.
What is a time signature?
As musicians, we love putting things in fours.
The animals came in two by two but the musicians come in 4x4s (well, the successful ones do anyway).
In music, we can’t just have an endless line of notes going on forever and ever.
We need a structure, a little signpost to tell us how to feel the music rather than just play it.
The time signature breaks up the music into neat little chunks.
It gives us a better idea of how the music should flow, what notes we should emphasise and provides us with a framework for knowing where we are in the song.
4/4 is the most common time signature and is written on the staff like this:
So what does 4/4 actually mean?
The number on the top of the time signature is the number of beats. In this case it’s 4.
The number on the bottom is the note value, which you may remember we looked at earlier. If you see a 4 here, that means you’re dealing with, you guessed it, the good old crotchet!
The time signature gives you a certain allowance of notes you’re allowed per chunk of music.
Think of it like spending money.
In this example, you are only allowed 4 crotchets worth of notes before your allowance runs out.
At that point, we stick a line down the staff to signify that this little chunk of music is done and there is no more room in this section.
This little chunk is known as a bar, and the line down the staff is known as a bar line.
As soon as we’ve finished one bar, we can start another one, with the same rules as last time.
Bars are essential to make music easy to read and follow.
If I ever lose my place in the music, I can use the bar lines to quickly navigate around the page.
But it doesn’t stop there…
When you put a group of bars together, it’s typically known as a section (often labelled with A and B, or Verse and Chorus)
So in a song, you could have a verse section of 16 bars and then a chorus section of 16 bars.
Repeat that a few times and you have an entire song.
It all starts with the crotchet. Don’t underestimate it!
If you have any questions at all, do let me know in the comments section below.
Creative crotcheting – writing and reading your own personal drum score
Although I’m pretty sure crotcheting hasn’t yet made it into the dictionary, it’s the perfect description of our first creative exercise.
It’s time to put what you’ve learned to the test as you make your own drum beat using just crotchets.
Here are the rules:
- The music has to be in 4/4.
- You can only use the bass drum and snare drum.
- All the notes have to be crotchets.
So do you remember the drumbeat we looked at a little earlier on?
It looked like this:
And sounded like this:
This is far from the only way that we can arrange the bass drum and snare drum.
They don’t have to come one after the other, for example.
What if I put three bass drums in a row and then a snare drum?
That would look and sound like this:
Or what if I reversed the snare and bass drums to create something very different from what we’re used to hearing?
You can see how there are many possibilities, even with this strict set of rules.
Either on Guitar Pro, or on a sheet of paper, write out 2 of your own drum beat ideas using the template I’ve given you.
If you’re on Guitar Pro, have a listen back to them right away.
If you’re writing them on paper, try and imagine what they would sound like using the examples above as a reference.
And if you’re feeling really snazzy…
Why not do a beat that has multiple bars and changes the drum beat in each bar?
Here’s one I made earlier:
Once you get rolling, it’s easy to get your creativity flowing and start to use drum notes and notation as a way of creating new ideas that you can then take to the drum kit in real life.
The better you get with scoring drums (the fancy word for writing sheet music), the more intricate, exciting and awesome drum beats you’ll be able to create.
Variety is the spice of life, and even if your crotchet beats are the talk of the town, you’re going to want to take things to the next level soon enough.
The quaver (aside from being a delicious crisp) is the next note value on our odyssey through sheet music.
It is worth ½ a beat, meaning that in every beat of music, you’ll get 2 quavers.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Decorate your golf clubs
Remember earlier how we talked about the long stick of the crotchet?
Well to make it into a quaver, all you have to do is stick a little flick on the end, like so:
If you have two quavers in the same beat, you join them together in a little bridge, like this:
You’ll most commonly find quavers hanging out on the hi-hat line of drum sheet music, but they also add great variety to snare and bass rhythms.
The most classic use of quavers you’ll see in a drum beat is above the bass snare bass snare crotchet pattern that we explored earlier.
Here’s what it looks and sounds like:
Unleashing the quavers
As the quavers are twice as fast as the crotchets, we count them slightly differently.
Rather than using ‘1,2,3,4’, we use ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and’.
Do you see how we’re bringing the two concepts of quavers and crotchets together?
The quavers are ticking along at the top (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and)
The crotchets are marking the beats below (1 2 3 4)
This drum beat is unbelievably popular, and almost every drummer will have been exposed to it.
This is the first time we’ve seen two notes happening at the same time on our sheet music, so before our brains explode, let’s clear up exactly how that works.
Whenever you see two notes that line up vertically on sheet music, you play them at the same time.
If you have notes that line up vertically, then they happen on the same beat.
People often get confused because it looks like you have more than four beats in the bar, because if you add all the notes up in the example above, you end up with 8 beats worth of notes.
But actually, our ‘allowance’ of beats (see time signature section) is only measured sideways, not vertically.
This allows us to play lots of different drums at the same time, while still dividing our music into little chunks using our time signature.
If you’re struggling with this, don’t panic! Have a re-read of the time signature section and let us know if you have any questions.
Now let your imagination run wild
You now know how to read drum sheet music with both crotchets and quavers.
This means you can design your own drum beat with both in mind.
Jump onto Guitar Pro or grab a pen and paper and see what you can come up with.
You could keep the general look of the above beat and turn the bass drums into quavers, like this:
And you could space the hi-hats out using crotchets, like this:
Any combination of crotchets and quavers, hi-hats, snare and bass will create a fantastic new beat.
You can then take those beats to the drum kit and bring them into reality.
Bring on the semiquavers
Semiquavers are the powerhouses of the drumming world. They are the final note value that we’re looking at in this guide.
If want to learn drumming patterns that are going to wow your audience, you better make sure you’ve got some semiquaver fills in your arsenal.
That’s just one of the reasons why it’s so useful to be able to read drum sheet music containing semiquavers.
While it’s not uncommon to put semiquavers into drum beats, you’ll most likely hear them at the end of sections in the form of a drum fill.
So if a crotchet is worth a beat of music and a quaver is worth ½ a beat, how much do you think a semiquaver is worth?
If you said a ¼ a beat, you’re killing this.
There are four semiquavers per beat. We use two flicks on the long stick of a crotchet to turn it into a semiquaver, which looks like this:
When there is more than one semiquaver in a beat, we join them together in a bridge like this:
Can you see how the same sort of rules and logic that we used for crotchets and quavers also applies to semiquavers?
It’s really useful to be using something like Guitar Pro to be able to hear different semiquaver combinations in action.
Semiquavers can be a little difficult to ‘hear in your head’ if you’re not used to writing them out regularly.
Instead of counting ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and’ like we did with the quavers, we count semiquavers like this:
‘1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a’
If that makes your head spin, try the phrase ‘coca cola’ instead.
The name splits nicely into four syllables which sound like semiquavers when you say the word out loud.
How to read drum fills
Let’s show you a few examples of semiquaver drum fills in sheet music.
Because we typically play a drum beat before a drum fill, I’ve put both together so that you can see them in context.
In example 1, we use 4 semiquavers on the snare drum to fill in the last beat of the last bar.
This creates a cool variation to our standard beat which can grab everyone’s attention.
If you’re learning drum fills, this pattern should be one of the first that you try, as it’s one of the easier fills to read and play.
In example 2, we’re taking things to the next level.
As you can see on the score above, we’re going to use 2 beats worth of semiquavers (8 in total) and we’re going to spread the fill around 4 different drums.
Because different drums have different pitches (they sound higher or lower), we can make fills that are more musical by including a variety of drums.
You might have noticed that I’m including a couple of drums that we haven’t seen yet in any examples up to this point.
We’re kicking things off with 2 snare drums and 2 bass drums, but then we’re rather cheekily sticking a snare drum, high tom, low tom and bass drum into the last beat.
Altogether, they create a fiery combination.
Turn on hard mode, it’s time for example 3.
Have you ever heard one of those huge drum fills that you can’t help but air drum along to?
For me, it’s the famous drum fill that opens the last section of ‘In The Air Tonight’.
In songs like that, the fill becomes more than just a variation that the drummer plays.
These fills tend to be longer, and stand out from the music more.
However, you should always pick a fill that still fits with the music.
Luckily for us, sometimes that involves unveiling that huge drum fill that we’ve been practising for ages.
Here’s one I made earlier.
Writing and reading your own drum music with crotchets, quavers and semiquavers
Now you can really play drums with these three note values, mixing them all up as much as you like in the beats you create.
Just as excitingly, with these three note values under your belt, you have the power to read an incredible range of drum beats right off the page.
Take a bow, you’ve done amazingly well to get this far through the guide and we’re on the home straight.
It’ll take you some time to learn the different permutations (varieties) of these notes and how they interact with one another, but you are well on your way to a solid understanding of drum score.
If you’re unsure about any beat and how it sounds, you can always replicate it in Guitar Pro or count through it slowly.
Use the ‘1,2,3,4’ ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and’ plus the ‘1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a’ that represent each of the note values we’ve discussed.
Then match up the sheet music to your counting.
Where do the notes on the page land on your counting? Can you imagine how they would sound over your counting?
The stage is yours
You now have a whole world of ideas available to you that most drummers aren’t exposed to.
There are so many great drum books out there with legendary musical ideas committed to sheet music.
There’s just one final thing you need to know before I send you out into the world as bonafide sheet music readers!
If there’s one thing you probably want to do after digesting so many important concepts about sheet music, it’s to take a break.
Music also needs these periods of regular downtime and relaxation.
A rest is the opposite of a note. In short, it tells you when not to play.
In music, the rests can often become more important than the notes themselves.
Every rest makes the notes surrounding it stand out more to the listeners’ ears.
So before you launch into that fiery drum fill, be careful not to play too many notes in the build-up.
You don’t want to distract your listeners before the big finale!
Note values of rests
The note value of a rest tells you how long that rest is for.
These rests have exactly the same names and note values as the ones we looked at earlier.
- A crotchet rest lasts for one beat.
- A quaver rest lasts for ½ a beat.
- A semiquaver rest lasts for a ¼ of a beat.
The major difference is that we drop all the golf clubs and go for a range of fun squiggles instead.
You can refer back to this chart anytime you need to check which rest is which.
Pretty soon, these will become second nature to you and you’ll be able to identify these on the go, whatever drum notation you happen to be reading.
The grand finale – my top tips for reading drum sheet music
Congratulations! You’ve just learnt one of the most valuable skills that a drummer could possibly have.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Go watch a movie. Put your feet up. You’ve earned it!
This will make everything so much easier on your journey to become a better drummer.
Before you go, I just thought I’d give you a rundown of top tips that will help you get the most out of reading drum notes and notation.
How’s learning sheet music for drums going for you? Let us know in the comments section below.
Getting the most out of drum notation
1. Learn from the experts – Now you have access to the hundreds of drum books written by world-class drummers.
They contain ideas from every style of music that you can apply to your own playing in whatever way you see fit.
There are so many to choose from, but some drum notation books that have really benefited me include:
Groove Essentials 1 and 2 by Tommy Igoe (For Beginners to Advanced)
Drum Techniques of Led Zeppelin (For rock beat lovers – Intermediate/Advanced)
The Art of Bop Drumming (For jazz lovers – Intermediate)
The links above take you to the Amazon listing for each book.
2. Drum grades – A great way of getting a drum book that is tailored exactly to your level is to get a drum grade book.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to take an exam!
You’ll be able to pick a level of music reading that isn’t too difficult and this will keep you on track and stop you from becoming demotivated.
They each contain a number of backing tracks that you’ll be able to drum along to; this can be a really great way to have a range of tracks that you can perform for people.
With Rockschool for example, many of the backing tracks are based on real songs from famous artists.
You can find out more about them here.
It’s recommended that you take about a grade a year, so if you’ve been playing for a couple of years, you might want to have a go at grade 2.
If you’ve just started playing drums, the debut grade might be your best option.
3. Use Guitar Pro to speed up your progress – It’s so useful to have the notes on the page brought to life using software like Guitar Pro.
As long as you recognise crotchets, quavers and semiquavers, (just remember to count the decorations on the golf clubs), you’ll be able to:
- Copy beats that use those note values into Guitar Pro.
- Hear back beats from your favourite drum books.
- Create your own beats and hear how they sound on the drum kit.
Even though I read music to a professional level, I still use it as a creative tool to write down my ideas for beats and solos.
Good luck in your drum sheet music reading and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
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Drum Notation for Beginners
Drum notation is a form of writing down music specific to percussion instruments. It’s quick and easy to learn. Think of it as a language for drums. If you know how to read and write drum notation, then you know how to communicate musically with others.
To read drum notation, you need to learn the different symbols. These symbols tell you what part of the drum set to play and when. By learning how to read drum notation, you’ll be able to quickly play a rhythm or drum beat, even if you’ve never heard it before.
WHAT IS DRUM NOTATION?
Drum notation is different than sheet music, although they look similar and use some of the same concepts. In sheet music, the symbols on the staff correspond to different notes. In drum notation, the symbols represent different parts of the drum set (snare, hi-hat, bass drum, etc.) to be played. This is useful for beginners learning to coordinate their limbs, helping to develop the necessary skill sets to both comfortably keep steady time and play the correct part of the drum set.
In drum notation, the symbols represent different parts of the drum set
In drum notation, the notes are written on the staff and are separated by vertical bar lines. The space between the bar lines is referred to as a “measure.” You will typically count beats while playing different notes on the drum set within each measure.
Drum notation does contain similarities to sheet music in that measures are counted and read the same way. By learning to read and write this part of the musical language, you’ll develop a strong sense of timing and rhythm control.
How to read drum notation
Like the English language, drum notation is read from left to right. The staff is made up of five lines and four spaces, but notes can be positioned above or below the staff as well. Notes are placed in the staff based on which part of the drum set should be played at any given time. Notice below that the bass drum is in a different position on the staff than the snare or ride cymbal.
Drums are notated by dots, while cymbals are notated with an “x.” These symbols typically have “stems” attached to them, which help explain how to count the beat that is shown.
Reading drum notation
There are several symbols musicians should know when starting to read drum notation, especially if they’re just starting off with a four- or five-piece drum set.
- Bass. Notation for the bass drum sits in the bottom space of the staff. The bass drum is typically the biggest drum on the drum set, and usually produces the lowest note. It is used with a foot pedal and is often referred to as the “kick drum.”
- Floor tom. Notation for the floor tom sits in the third space from the top of the staff. The floor tom (or low tom) is typically the next lowest note on the drum set. It is often referred to as a floor tom because it may rest on the floor by using legs.
- Tom 1 and tom 2. Toms are notated on the first space from the top of the staff and the line below that space. Sometimes called the high tom, this drum typically produces a note higher than both the floor tom and bass drum. Many drum fills are started on this drum, and many drum sets have more than one tom.
- Snare. The snare drum is often considered to be the main drum of the drum set. Its notation is located in the second space from the top of the staff. Many drum beats are based around the pattern between the bass drum and snare drum. It gets its famous snare sound from the snare wires that are attached to the bottom head of the drum.
- Ride. This cymbal is often the biggest on a drum kit and is used for many different purposes. The ride cymbal is often tapped with the tip of the stick to create a feeling of “riding,” but it can also be used as a crash cymbal. On the staff it’s located on the very top line.
- Hi-hat. The hi-hat notation sits above the top line on the staff, and is often a main time-keeping tool. The hi-hat is a pair of cymbals that are used with a unique type of stand that contains a foot pedal. Drummers can control the type of note that’s produced by stepping on the hi-hat pedal and tightening the two cymbals together and then striking them, known as closed hi-hat, or letting them lightly bounce off of each other by releasing pressure with the foot, known as open hi-hat.
- Crash 1 and crash 2. A crash cymbal is a very loud, big cymbal that is often used to accent different rhythms within music. Crash cymbals vary in size and tone and contain a large number of different styles and sounds. This cymbal differs from the others on the drum set because it’s often struck with force and can help elevate the dynamic movements of a piece of music. Its notation is located above the hi-hat, above the top line on the staff. On drum sets with two crash cymbals, the second crash will be notated in the space above the first crash.
Reading the music staff for drums
Music is often divided up into even (or sometimes odd) groups of space. We use “measures” in music to organize the rhythms of the song into these repeated groupings to make it easier to count through a song. To communicate what grouping we should count, we use what’s called a time signature.
Reading time signatures
A time signature contains two numbers displayed as a fraction. The top number tells you how many beats to count within one measure, and the bottom number tells you what type of note gets the beat (quarter notes, eighth notes, etc). Think of the time signature as ruler. You’re measuring time, or more accurately, the space between the notes that you’re playing.
For example, a quarter note in a 4/4 time signature represents one beat, meaning you strike the drum once per beat. And a whole note in a 4/4 time signature represents four beats, meaning you strike the drum once every four beats.
Some of the most common drum beats are whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and thirty-second notes. There are different types of triplets that can be played as well, where you play three notes in the space normally occupied by two notes.
Reading repeat signs
A repeat sign tells you to do just what it sounds like: repeat a pattern. That being said, there are several different repeat signs to understand in drum notation.
- Repeat sign. Many drum parts are played in patterns, meaning they’re played more than once or twice in a row. In drum notation, a repeat sign tells the drummer to return to the beginning of the section and play the same part again.
- One-bar repeat sign. A one-bar repeat sign looks similar to the symbol that represents the percent sign. You’ll see two dots, one on each side of a diagonal line. The one-bar repeat sign means to repeat the previous measure for an additional measure and then continue on in the music.
- Two-bar repeat sign. The two-bar repeat sign means to repeat the previous two measures and then continue. It looks the same as a one-bar repeat sign but has two lines instead of one. You may often see the number 2 written above the symbol.
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How is drum notation different from drum tablature?
Drum tab notation is a simplified version of drum notation. Instead of using the typical notes you would read in a piece of music, drum tablature uses a series of vertical and horizontal lines with different characters to represent rhythm and patterns for the drummer to play. All drummers are different and learn in different ways.
New drummers can benefit from using drum tab notation to begin learning the basics, almost as a steppingstone to drum notation. However, drum tablature is complicated in its own right and is largely a relic of a time when computers could not easily support the layout of drum notation.
Knowing how to hit the drums
You can play each drum in a variety of ways. Each gives you a different result. Drummers are responsible for both tempo control (speed) and dynamic control (this is sometimes referred to as volume control, or feel control). There are different types of symbols used to tell the drummer how hard or soft to play, or in what way.
Striking the drums
There are multiple ways to strike a drum, depending upon the type of grip you’re using. How you grip the sticks determines how the drum will sound when you hit it. You can use a tight or loose grip, and can play using different grip types, such as traditional or matched grip. Be sure to hold the sticks in the correct position and to balance them in your hands comfortably.
You don’t always need to strike hard to draw out volume on a drum set; drums are naturally loud. You can use your thumb and index finger to control the stick while using the other fingers to balance out the motion of the stroke.
What is an accent drum technique?
Drummers have the ability to “accent” different parts of rhythms by making certain notes sound louder, softer, lower, or higher, or by using a different part of the drum set.
An example of an accent is when the drummer opens the hi-hat during a drum beat and strikes it, and then presses back down on the foot pedal to close it, creating an open-and-closed-sounding rhythm. The accent symbol is usually located directly above the note being accented.
What is a marcato drum technique?
A marcato technique is represented by one note being played more loudly or more forcefully than others surrounding it. This is a good way to accent notes in a drum beat. It’s displayed as a vertical wedge above the intended note written on the page.
What is a ghost note drum technique?
Ghost notes are often played as light, bouncy notes on a snare drum that can sound like many quick notes played in succession. This technique is often used in drum beats to help create more rhythmic movements within a piece of music, and can be played with both the right and left hands.
What is a flam drum technique?
A flam note is created when a drummer strikes a drum with both hands simultaneously while placing the notes slightly apart from each other. It sounds like two notes, but they’re very close together and feel like one note.
What is a drag drum technique?
A basic drag rudiment is played by having one hand quickly strike two notes on the drum, followed by a single stroke with the other hand. When played tightly and quickly, you will get three notes that sound close together. Accent the final note in the drag rudiment to create a “completed” sound.
What is a rim-click drum technique?
A rim-click, or cross-stick, technique is employed when the drummer places the stick across the drum and taps the rim. You can strike the rim using the shoulder of the stick or can even turn the stick around and use the bottom side. Each gives a different sound. This technique is often used in soft, quiet pieces of music.
Knowing how to hit cymbals
When setting up your drum set, you have many options for selecting your cymbals. Depending on what you play, you may encounter any of the following techniques while reading drum notation.
Striking the cymbal or hi-hat
The hi-hat is one of the main time-keeping tools for a drummer. By pressing your foot down on the pedal, you can create a tight sound between the two cymbals. The more you release pressure on the pedal, the more of a “washy” sound your hi-hat will make.
What is a crash bell drum technique?
You can use the bell of a cymbal to accent a part more loudly. Drummers often use the shoulder of the drum stick to bring out the volume of the bell.
What is a choke crash drum technique?
A choke crash technique is used when muting a cymbal after it’s been hit. This often creates a “tight” feel in music if performed alongside different instruments. To do this, you will first strike the cymbal (often a crash cymbal) as normal and then immediately grab it with one of your hands to quickly reduce its sound.
What is a china drum technique?
A china cymbal is often used as an alternative to a loud crash cymbal. It sounds very heavy and “trashy.” This cymbal can be used to accent loud sections in a piece of music.
What is a splash drum technique?
A splash cymbal is a very small cymbal used to accent light sections in a piece of music. Because of its small size, the notes don’t last as long as those of a ride or crash cymbal. Therefore this cymbal can be used to add a lot of versatility to lighter dynamic sections in music.
What is an open hi-hat drum technique?
An open hi-hat is often played by taking your foot off the hi-hat pedal and allowing the cymbals to bounce off each other. This is typically used in loud sections of music.
What is a closed hi-hat drum technique?
A closed hi-hat technique is the opposite of an open hi-hat: The two cymbals are tightly pressed against each other by pressing down on the foot pedal to create a very tight, crisp sound.
What is a loose hi-hat drum technique?
A loose hi-hat technique is in between a closed and open technique. You will typically press down lightly on the foot pedal, allowing the two cymbals to bounce off each other, but not so much that they resonate for a long time. You can use this technique to create a louder dynamic within a piece of music.
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Other drum techniques
When it comes to playing the drums, the sky's the limit. These are only a small sample of the many drum techniques you make encounter while reading drum notation.
What are soft one-handed rolls?
A soft one-handed roll is played by lightly striking the drum and then letting the bottom of the stick rest against the rim, followed by bouncing the stick back toward the drum to get a second stroke. This technique can be used to achieve more notes quickly with one hand.
What are accented one-handed rolls?
An accented one-handed roll is the same as the above but contains an accent with one of the notes. You can strike either of the two notes more loudly or softly than the other to create a unique rhythm.
Tips for Beginning to Read Drum Notation
When starting to read drum notes, it’s important to consider the following helpful tips to ensure you meet success.
1. Break the lesson down into smaller pieces.
When learning a new song on drums, divide its sections into unique groups and work on them one at a time. Then connect them together. This trick will help you memorize the parts of the song more quickly.
2. Take it slow.
New drummers need to develop coordination between their limbs. Learning drums is just as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. A good method for new drummers is to practice rudiments and paradiddles taught in our drum lessons so that you can learn different patterns of right and left strokes on the drums.
Much like learning how to play a video game for the first time, your brain needs to learn right and left striking patterns. This can take time, so patience is important.
3. Set time aside to practice every day.
Beginner drummers need to train their brains to use their limbs in new ways. Setting aside time every day to practice will help reinforce good habits and lead to more consistent improvement than doing longer, less-frequent practice sessions.
4. Consider drum notation software.
Drum notation software is a helpful tool when learning how to read and write music. As you learn the language, consider using different applications to help you grasp new concepts behind the drums set. A metronome is also a necessary tool for new drummers to help locate the beat and keep steady time. Tempo control will improve tremendously when a metronome is used in students’ practice routines.
5. Use words to make rhythms easier.
For beginners, learning to read drum notation is a lot like learning a new language. Use associations early on to remember what certain things mean on the drums. For example, certain words contain syllables that are applicable to different rhythms.
- The word “pizza” can be used to remember how to play eighth notes.
- The word “cheese” can represent quarter notes.
- “Pepperoni” can be used for sixteenth notes,
- “anchovy” for triplets, etc.
Ready to get started?
Now that you know the basics of how to read drum notation for beginners, how to tell the difference between it and drum tab notation, and some fundamental drum techniques, you’re ready to start playing. From beginner to advanced, School of Rock has taught thousands of students how to play drums and reach their full potential. Our instructors have the knowledge and experience to have you quickly playing your favorite rock songs onstage.
School of Rock students also gain access to a wealth of information, including our Method Books and Method App, which are utilized by our qualified instructors to teach a complete music education in a fun way.