How To Read Drum Music
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Is reading music really necessary? Sure, you can play drums by ear, but you're missing out on a lot. The ability to read music will give you much better understanding of how your instrument works and will greatly improve your learning and playing abilities. Is it worth your time? Most definitely.
If you ever want to advance beyond the amateur level, you will have to learn how to read music. Plain and simple. On this page we'll take a look at some of the fundamentals.
Drum Sheet MusicDrum sheet music is not very different than any other kind of sheet music. Everything happens on a staff. However, in drum notation instead of showing different pitches, the different lines and spaces on a staff represent a different instrument on your drum kit.
The staff consists of five lines. There is no universally accepted way of positioning specific drums on the staff, but the bottom is usually the bass drum, the snare is somewhere in the middle, and the hi-hat and cymbals up top. If you can't determine which is which, look for a legend.
At the beginning of the staff you can see a time signature. Time signature is one of the most important things for a drummer to understand. The top number tells you the number of beats in a measure and the bottom number tells you which note is to get one beat. Most rock music will be in a time signature of 4/4, which means there are four beats in a measure and that a quarter note equals one beat.
Here we'll introduce you to the three types of notes that are good starting points when you're learning to read drum music. They are: quarter notes, eight notes, and sixteenth notes. The stem, or the lines above each note will tell you whether the note is a quarter note, eighth note, or 16th note.
|Quarter note. This is how a quarter note looks like. In 4/4 time this note represents one beat. So if there are four beats in one measure you can fit four of them in there.|
|Eight note - you can see that an eight note has a flag on its stem. In a time signature of 4/4, you can fit eight eight notes in a measure.|
|A sixteenth note has two flags. Notes can be connected with lines like in the example below.|
This is basically all you need to know in order to understand and play the following notation:
This covers the basics of basics. When you're ready to take your drumming and reading music to the next level, take a look at Learn & Master Drums.
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