Reading Drum Music | Trust Me It's Easy!

Posted in Guides And Tips on February 19, 2016

How to read drum sheet music

Drum music is typically written in Bass Clef. However with drums, you don't need to worry about key signatures so it doesn't really matter. You may ask ''So is it hard to read drum music?'' and I will answer you - Hell no!

There is standard method for writing out drum notations. However, drum charts can be altered or modified to meet various needs, such as kits with more drums.

The most important thing for any drummer in reading drum music is to note the TIME signature of the chart. Most music is typically written in 4/4 time. The top number represents how many notes per measure you're counting. The bottom note represents what TYPE of note you're counting. So in 4/4 time, you're counting four(top) quarter(bottom) notes: 1...2...3...4...|1...2...3...4...|1...2... etc...

If you see 7/8 time. That means you're counting seven(top) eighth(bottom) notes which are twice as fast as quarter notes: 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.|1.2.3.4.5.6.7.|1.2.3. etc...

If you see 9/16 time, That means you're counting nine(top) sixteenth(bottom) notes which are twice as fast as eighth notes: 123456789|123456789|1234 etc...

Got it ?

The Hi-Hat is usually notated with an X on the top of the stave /staff. If it is a full oval, this could represent either a crash or a ride cymbal.

Between the 2nd and third line of the stave/staff, the snare drum is notated with a full oval. If an X is here, that means to play a rim shot or "cross-stick". You typically turn the stick upside down with the tip in about 2 inches from the edge of the rim and "click" the butt end of the stick down on the snare with as much of your hand as possible. you don't HAVE to turn the stick up side down, but I find I get a more defined "Clack!" if I do.

Just below the snare on the third line is where your toms typically start. As you drop a line or space, you go down one tom so the space in between the 3rd and 4rth line is Tom 2. On the 4rth line is your floor tom.

The bass drum is typically notated in the space in between the 4rth and 5th line. If you have 2 bass drums, you notate the second one on the 5th line.

Check some tips on drum tuning by clicking here.