Drum Sheet Music – How to Read & Write It

If you want to become a drummer, you must have a good understanding of how to read drum sheets. This understanding will compliment you throughout your career in playing drums. In fact, you will never be able to become a professional drummer without having a good understanding of how to read drum sheets. While keeping that in mind, let’s figure out the steps that you will need to follow when you are reading and writing drum sheets. We will do it by focusing on the most important aspects that you can discover in the drum sheets.

The Staff

The staff is the very first thing that you should figure out when you are playing drum sheets. This would be the visual representation of the music that you play. If you want to get a better understanding of this, you may think about a drum sheet as a set that has two different layers of symbols. The very first layer would be groundwork. This is also the musical staff or stave. There are five lines in the staff. You will be placing the musical notes on this. These musical notes will tell you whether the notes represent a specific drum or a cymbal

Drum Keys

Drum keys will represent the notes on top of the staff. The main reason why musicians call these drum keys is that you will be able to use them to unlock how to read drum notes. All the proper notes will be representing the drums. On the other hand, the little Xs that you can find would represent cymbals. The hi-hat and the ride cymbal would be sitting on top of the same line. You will need to play the hi-hat if it is not specifically requested to play otherwise.

Time Signature

If you want to understand how to read the drum notes, you should have good knowledge about the time signature. As you continue to play a note, you will notice that the second layer of symbols is coming into play. The most important symbol of the layer would be at the beginning of the drum sheet. This is where you will notice that there are two different numbers, where one number is positioned under another. The top number would tell you the number of notes that are fitting into the bar. 

The Bars 

Having just four notes in a song is not something that you can see. If there are only four notes, you will only be able to play a song that lasts for around 1 to 4 seconds. On the other hand, it is not possible to have 400 notes on a music sheet as well. That’s because you will not be able to follow all of them, even if you are an expert drummer. In other words, you will not be able to count the notes and continue to play the drums. If you try to do it, you will end up losing track. This is the main reason why the concept of bars was introduced. 

Bars are visible throughout the drum sheet in the form of vertical lines. With the help of the bars, it is possible to add around 400 musical notes into a single drum sheet. Therefore, you will only have to count up to four times and you will never have to go through any challenges as you play. The bar would represent the minutes of music that you will have to count to four. 

Understanding the Drum Music Notes

As you continue to play the drums, you should have the knowledge of how to read the drum sheet as well. In fact, you should be able to distinguish the different notes and play them. 

For the time being, you can just focus only on the length column and assume that you are counting 1,2,3, 4. As you do that, you will need to hit the drums. If you are playing a whole note, you should hit the drum or the symbol, and then could 1. You should then wait for three more beats, where you are counting 2, 3, and 4. This will help you to cover four beats. 

But when you are playing a half note, you will need to hit on the drum or symbol as you count 1 and then wait out the count 2. In case there is another half note, you will need to hit on count 3 and wait out count 4. If you want to get a better understanding of this concept, you can take detailed notes that are available on whole and half notes.  

  • Understanding Quarter Notes

Quarter notes are just taking one beat. In other words, you will only be counting 1. In the drum sheets, you will be able to see how the quarter notes are filling the complete bar. 

  • Understanding Eighth Notes

You will be able to notice some contrast as you play eighth notes. That’s because these notes are lasting only for a half-beat. You will be hitting 1 and then on the mid-way, you will be switching from count 1 to 2. However, this can be tricky because you will have to do the count in the middle of the note. This is where practice would come into play.

  • Understanding Sixteenth Notes 

Sixteenth notes are even shorter. That’s because they are lasting only for one-fourth of a single bear. Therefore, you should be equipped with lots of practice and a sophisticated counting system to play these notes. 

Final Words

Now you have a basic understanding of how you should be reading the drum notes. Keep these facts in your mind and go through some practice sessions. As you go through the practice sessions, you will figure out how to put the knowledge that you have into practice. This will help you to become a successful drummer in the long run.

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