Drum notation

To follow my tutorials easily you must learn how to read drum notation, even if it takes you a long time to read it to begin with, you will get used to it. I still can’t read very quickly!

In the figures bellow are where each drum is placed on the music.

All the examples use a crotchet. This is a note that is worth 1 beat. There are 4 beats in a bar and when you are playing you should count in your head or out loud, “1, 2, 3, 4.” This way you know when to change the beat so it sounds proffessional. At the end is a video of me playing, I will count in, “1, 2, 3, 4.” and play something improvised. It will be easy to follow so just count along to get used to the flow of things.

The notes

A crotchet played on the snare drum. Any note played on the snare drum will be placed in the second SPACE from the top.

Crotchet - Snare
A crotchet played on the small tom. Any note played on the small tom will be placed in the top SPACE.

Crotchet - Small Tom
A crotchet played on the medium tom. Any note played on the medium tom will be placed on the second line from the top.

Crotchet - Medium Tom

A crotchet played on the floor tom. Any note played on the floor tom will be placed in the second SPACE from the bottom.

Crotchet - Floor Tom

A crotchet played on the bass drum. Any note played on the bass drum will be placed in the bottom SPACE.
Crotchet - Bass Drum

A crotchet played on the crash cymbal. Any note played on the crash cymbal will be placed on top of the top line, sometimes slightly raised above and will sometimes be enclosed by a circle.

Crotchet - Crash

A crotchet played on the ride cymbal. Any note played on the ride cymbal will be placed in a similar place as the crash cymbal but it won’t be enclosed by a circle.

Crotchet - Ride

A crotchet played on the hi-hat with your foot. Any note played on the hi-hat will be placed in the bottom SPACE, the same as the bass drum, but as you’ve probably worked out, all cymbals are represented by an x.

Crotchet - Hi-Hat

You will also come across the hi-hat played using the sticks. This will look similar to the ride cymbal and will be placed in the same place but is normally marked with a + or an o to let the player know whether it will be played with the foot pressed down or with the two cymbals apart.

Crotchet - Hi-Hat Open