Learn to Read Drum Notes

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When reading drum music, the first thing to notice is that there is no treble clef, but instead there is a notation for each part of the drum. Find out how to do sight reading of drum music with help from an experienced drummer in this free video on drums and percussion.

Part of the Video Series: Drums & Music Theory
Promoted By Zergnet

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Video Transcript

Let's talk about how to learn to read drum music notes. When you're reading drum music on a regular musical notation like this, one thing you'll notice is we don't have the treble clef over here, we don't have anything because it doesn't matter, we're talking about drums. Each drum has a notation based on each instrument. So I'm going to write in a standard drum beat here that we might play and then I'll explain it to you. Okay, so what we have here are three instruments that we're using. We have the bass drum, which is being played on one and three. We have the snare drum, which is being played on two and four, and we have the high hat which is being played on eighth notes throughout the entire measure: one and two and three and four and. This is a standard drum beat. There is some conventions with drum notation and those conventions are that this bottom line is used to signify the bass drum, which is played with either the left or right foot depending on whether you're left or right handed. The snare drum is either placed on in this first place or sometimes the snare drum is notated right here on the first line. The high hat as you can see is written on this top line but it's not written with standard circular notes, it's written with x's which is not typical in musical notation for a violin or piano for example. Then you have to know where all the others go. So if you see something that says for example, something like this, this is known to be a Tom drum, a tom-tom possible the top one and this is four quarters, four sixteenth notes, meaning dot, dot, dot, dot in one beat. So, familiarizing yourself with this, it will become second nature where you can just look at it and you can say, okay, bass, snare, bass, snare, snare and you'll be able to play along and sight read as it's called which is just kind of to be playing it as you're reading it for the first time.

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