Being may be to review drum paper music has been one of the best assets in mine drumming job so far! I recognize that no all the drummers space interested in it but for my very own professionalism, ns prefrred to learn it.

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Seriously, that doesn’t issue whether i walked right into the rehearsal room of a new band or joined an orchestra. As soon as they observed that I can sit down in former of a item of file (and a drum collection of course) and just begin playing v them – they were impressed.

And I’m no saying that in order to brag. Rather, I desire to motivate you to learn to review drum paper music too. For drummers who can’t are a dime and a dozen. And also once friend can, this will certainly make it so much much easier for you come be picked by a band – or whatever formation you desire to join – instead of begging to it is in considered. Due to the fact that knowing how to read drum paper music will assist you come be identified from the others.

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So without further ado, let’s jump in: I’ll take it you from absolute zero to analysis a fairly complex four-bar expression in the first half that the article. It’s not difficult but rather technical – so you re welcome bear v me.There are also some publications that can help you with drum sheets. I can recommend friend to have actually a watch at master Studies.

And because you can impress even much more (or knife money) by being able to create drum paper music you yourself – I’ll litter in some tips on that in the second half of the write-up – consisting of my favorite free drum sheet music software.

Table of Contents

Reading north Sheet MusicWriting north Sheet Music

Reading drum Sheet Music

The Staff

It is the visual depiction of the play 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 just thing you have to know here is the the staff is consisted of of 5 lines top top which ours notes will certainly be placed. And also these will certainly tell united state whether come hit a cymbal or a details drum…

Note placement or “the north Key”

Let’s very first look at where each north or cymbal sit on the staff.


There are miscellaneous version the this so-called “drum key”, however once you acquire the principle you have the right to read ’em all. Therefore please notice that:

The drums space signified by “proper” notes while the cymbals space signified by tiny Xs the the hi-hat and the drive cymbal sit ~ above the exact same line. Always play the hi-hat unless stated otherwise.

The easiest means to psychic / make feeling of this positions is to recognize that the elevation of a keep in mind in the 5-line system approximates to where you pat the associated drum / cymbal. 


For instance: girlfriend play the base drum and hi-hat foot through – guess what- your feet for this reason they are furthest down in the staff. By contrast, the cymbals are located up above your north (and much higher than her pedals), therefore they are placed highest possible in the staff.

So understand you understand which cymbal or drum a particular piece of paper music tells you come play. But how perform you understand when to play it?

Time Signature

Here is just how to check out drum notes. Once to play a keep in mind is where the 2nd layer of symbols comes in. And the most important symbol the this layer is this:


It will certainly be put at the very beginning of each item of drum sheet music and also you can safely neglect the number in ~ the bottom for now.

Rather, focus on the number in ~ the height which tells you how numerous notes deserve to fit right into a bar (i.e. A component of your sheet; an ext on the in a second…).

So? 4 notes, right?

Jep. However what about this “bar” thing?


Well, 4 note for an entire piece that music wouldn’t be cool. It would give about 0.1 come 4 seconds of music (if you made it awfully slow).

But installation in, say, 400 instead of 4 note wouldn’t be useful either, since unless you’re an advanced musician, you have to count note to have the ability to follow along. And also you’d certainly lose track once trying to count to 400 and to play drums at the same time.

That’s why paper music authors came up v the idea of bars (or “measures”) which room signified by a vertical line choose this:


This means you have the right to fit 400 notes into a item of sheet music – offering you minutes and also minutes the music – if only having actually to counting to 4, due to the fact that now the succession of 400 notes would certainly be damaged into 100 bars containing 4 notes each.

Drum Music Notes

So you have actually your item of north 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 note tell you.

The most necessary ones are detailed below and also in stimulate to review drum sheet music you need to have the ability to distinguish castle by the way they appear in the “note” ar (circle filled or unfilled; with or there is no vertical line; with or there is no tail).

But: don’t try to learn them by love now; rather, come back later as soon as you encounter troubles in her actual reading of north sheet music.

For now, let’s emphasis on the “length” column and imagine us were counting “1, 2, 3, 4” again. You’d then count and hit your drums as follows:

Playing a “half” note, you’d hit on count “1”, wait out count “2”. If there was an additional “half” keep in mind after that, you’d fight again ~ above “3” and also wait out “4”.

“Whole” and also “half” notes are good for understanding the concept, however they actually nearly never appear in drumming. Therefore let’s look walk over the remaining three note values one by one:

quarter Notes

A quarter note takes up one beat, therefore you’d hit on counting “1” and be done through it by the moment you count “2”. Let’s assume because that a 2nd that what complies with would be one more quarter note, and also another, and also another. These 4 quarter notes would certainly fill up a totality bar and also be counted together follows:


“1, 2, 3, 4” and a fight on every of those counts – that’s all there is to it.

Eighth notes

An eighth note, by contrast, only lasts fifty percent a beat, so fifty percent of each of your counts. You’d hit on “1” and the eighth note would end exactly mid-way in between counts “1” and also “2”.

But exactly how to determine the exact middle in between two counts? Well, by method of a an ext finely-grained counting system.

Instead of “1, 2, 3, 4”, we’d currently count “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”. And also hitting on counting “1”, we’d currently that the eighth lasts exactly until our an initial “and”.

So let’s again assume that a whole bar would be filled v eighth notes. This would provide us a sequence of 8 eighth notes and look choose this:


How execute you beat that? Right: you hit ~ above counts “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”

Sixteenth note

Ready because that the finale?

Sixteenth notes are shorter yet. They just last for one 4th of a beat. Therefore we require a yet much more finely-grained count system:

“1, e, and, a, 2, e, and, a, 3, e, and, a, 4, e, and, a”. Hitting on counting “1”, you’d know that one sixteenth keep in mind would exactly last until count “e”.

And how numerous sixteenth notes will fill increase a totality bar?

16! and in a piece of north sheet music this would look and also be counting this way:


The an easy Rock Beat

The final step is to take it the information about note values and also combine it with your knowledge around note location from the start of the short article (that tells you which north / cymbal to play).

You require both to deciper a rock groove prefer the following (we will break it down together in a second):


The an initial thing to carry out is to isolate the various 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) come be play on the bass drum.

Now let’s emphasis on the hi-hat component and its keep in mind values to uncover out exactly how we’d have to count and also play.

In this case, the hi-hat is notated in eighth notes so you’d have to count and also play in “1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and”.

Initially that can aid a lot of to create out how to counting the groove, which would look like this:

Now the you have the right to count and also play the hi-hat you’d relocate on to the the 2nd drum component in the center (for the snare drum).

And because we’ve already written the end the count pattern, we instantly see that the snare is played two times in this bar: as soon as on counting “2” and also once on counting “4”. Easy sufficient right?

Moving on come the bass drum part at the bottom, it’s same simple. You’d need to hit the kick pedal ~ above counts “1”, “3” and also on the “and” following “3”.

Put this every together and you get this groove (jump to 2:43 of the video):

And the cool point is: as soon as you’ve understood the system so far, you’ll it is in to figure out just how to check out another rock groove top top this earth too.

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The icing on the cake is now to learn how to review a drum fill. This will really freckles up her drumming:

A simple Drum Fill

See for you yourself if you can already bring a little of order right into this build-up of dots and lines:


If you’ve figured out that this fill in is composed of 16th note you’re precisely right. And we’ve gained sixteen of those – a totality a bar, that is.

So you’d count this fill as: “1 e and also a 2 e and a 3 e and also a 4 e and also a”. Again, it’s advantageous to compose this out:


And the procedure is specifically like before: isolation the components being play on various drums – in this case 4 – and realize the each of those parts is composed of 4 access time on a certain drum:

four hits top top the snare north on counts “1 e and also a” four hits top top the high tom on counts “2 e and also a” four hits on the center tom ~ above counts “3 e and also a” and four hits on the short tom on counts “4 e and a”

I can’t assist repeat myself: “easy enough, right?”