Archive for January, 2013

Art of Writing Drum Notation – Lesson IIIsheetmusic

Now that you know where the different parts of the drum kit go on the staff, lets begin putting a simple groove together. The Value for each of these will be an eight note (as discusses in the previous lesson). Remember, the cymbal & high hat is on the top line; the snare is on the third line and bass is on the fifth line. There are 4 beats per measure… see below:

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Just for kicks, get out your pen and write out what you see above, then play what you have written!  I know it’s simple, but get ready to think!  You will be able to visualize a ton of possibilities, then write and play it too!

STEP 1:  Experimenting with the Bass Possibilities!

Begin to experiment with bass drum possibilities while keeping the snare in its current position . . .under the third cymbal. The bottom line is for the bass drum.  You can place a bass note ANYWHERE you wish on the bottom line and it will always produce a functional beat pattern.  By functional, I mean that all these permutations (variations) will work well with routine 8th note rock grooves or with the everyday rock songs you hear on the radio.

EXAMPLE  (8th note 4/4):

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Can you visualize the others? There are 16 total possibilities! As you try playing these rhythms, be sure to repeat each one several times.


For now, we aren’t concerned with syncopations.  A syncopation (or sync) occurs when we drop a note (bass or snare) UNDER any two cymbal notes using up beats or down beats, short and long beats (I will explain later).  Syncs get complex in a hurry.  First, just concentrate on simple variations.  In other words, line your bass notes up with a cymbal note . . . ANY CYMBAL NOTE!

Write a simple example . . . then play it.  Then another and another.  Each of these beats are fundamental elements of the rock era.  Millions of your favorite songs are using these same beat examples right now! Side note, next week we will go over different variations on the bass using eight notes and rests.

STEP 2:  Experiment With the High Hat or Cymbal:

Let’s continue changing the cymbal or high hat patterns. This creates different feels / grooves and helps on tempos. Above we demonstrated an eighth note groove (these cover slow, medium and fast tempos). The first example below is a Quarter Note groove, the second is an Eighth Note groove, the third is a Triplet Note groove and the fourth is a Sixteenth Note groove. Have fun!!



Drummersrule notation_3 EIGHTH NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM/FAST TEMPO

Drummersrule notation_4 TRIPLET NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM TEMPO

Drummersrule notation_6 SIXTEENTH NOTE – SLOW/MEDIUM TEMPO

Use your imagination!  Don’t give up and have fun with all these variations.

WARNING:  Trying to play ALL the variations can hurt your brain! Yes, some of these more complex beat patterns are virtually impossible for all us mono-brained humans!  Few drummers can actually play all the remaining beat patterns.  Playing each one isn’t the important thing. Visualization is what counts!  Try to write and play a large portion of the 256 variation possibilities.  Get the picture, then move on.

Next week we’ll discuss Bass Patterns, Math, Backbeats, Symbols, Terminology and Permutations – Oh My!

As always contact me with any questions and enjoy your weekend!!

Brett – 602-843-3114



Now that you understand the importance of writing and reading drum notation, I want to briefly explain the NOTE Tree and TIME Signatures.

NOTE TREE: (see attached diagrams)

– whole note = 2 halves

– half note = 2 quarters

– quarter note = 2 eighths

– eighth note = 2 sixteenth

– sixteenth note = 2 thirty seconds

ImageWhen your asked – What does a (blank) note equal to? You’re answer will be the next slot down (a whole note is equal to 2 half notes, etc.).


4/4   top # = how many counts,  bottom # = what note for main count


4/4 = 4 counts of quarter notes

3/4 = 3 counts of quarter notes

7/8 = 7 counts of eighth notes (eighth note gets main count)

3/16 = 3 counts of sixteenth notes


We are going to start real simple but in only a few minutes you will discover the ability to write over 4 billion new rock beats. Now, I know that 4 billion is a hefty number, that’s true.  We won’t do them all, but you will understand how to write & read any of them in only a few minutes.

The first thing to do is lay out 5 horizontal lines about two inches in length. Like this . . .


Each end of this little music staff needs a vertical bar to designate that this is one whole measure. Just like all instruments, the higher pitched sounds are typically placed at the top of the staff. So on the drums, the highest pitch is the cymbals, so they will be on the top. The snare’s pitch is in the middle, so you will find it placed in the middle of the staff and the bottom is the bass. Now to see where the different parts of the drum are placed on the staff:

__________________________  = Cymbal or High Hat

__________________________  = (middle) Tom 1, (on line) Tom 2

__________________________  = Snare

__________________________  = (middle) Floor Tom 1, (on line) Floor Tom 2

__________________________  = Bass

Next week I will show you what this looks like written out and walk you thru basics on how to write out a simple drum groove.

As always contact me with any questions and enjoy your weekend!!

Brett – 602-843-3114


The Art of Writing Drum Notation - DrummersRule!

Happy New Year!! Being that it’s a brand new year, let’s make a resolution to push ahead into the unknown . . . the Art of Writing Drum Notation.

Notation is a learning tool! Nothing more and nothing less! Without the ability to write & read, your learning curve will be immeasurably stunted.

Over the next 4 – 5 weeks I will be sharing some step-by-step lessons on how to write drum music… For today, I want to get your ready and explain how it works… So let’s get started!

It is soooo much easier than you think!

Get into the habit of writing rhythms daily, even if you aren’t writing them exactly by the book! The minor imperfections will disappear in no time.
Extraordinary things happen as you begin to write down your ideas, grooves you’ve heard, or rhythms you love!


I know this sounds like a dumb question to many of you. None-the-less, it is amazing how many professionals drop the ball and run for cover when the subject of writing drum notation comes up. It is also VERY important to acknowledge the fact that our ability to accelerate the learning process will depend on those black and white notating skills.

If you can write and read a little, a whole new world will open up. For one thing, you will gain the ability to hear and retain licks from all the competition. Second, when a great riff pops in your head, you can write it out to go back later. Don’t you hate it when you try to ‘remember’ a lick and wish it were written down somewhere? Third, when playing in a recording studio, and you have the notes written out, it allows you to diffuse an argument in the event a guitar player or the song writer changes something. These are good reasons for learning to write!

STEP I: Throw out all the books! We are going to try a whole new concept! The idea here is to make a boring subject fun and easy:

You may have noticed that I keep putting the word ‘write’, that is because I have made a few discoveries that will help many of you (jammers) forget all your writing/reading phobias. In this way, I hope to lead you into an entirely new world that will fire your imagination with literally millions of new rhythmic ideas. These new ideas will hopefully find their way into your jamming and you will gain in three ways:

1) First, you will learn to write . . . which will help you to visualize rhythms previously unknown.
2) Writing will automatically and effortlessly teach you to read.
3) Those discoveries will lead to better recall and more creative playing!

So . . . as you digest this information, it is my hope that your creative improvisational (jamming) abilities will also enjoy a breath of new life too.

REMEMBER THIS! IF YOU CAN PLAY IT, YOU CAN WRITE IT! IF YOU CAN WRITE IT, YOU WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO READ IT! Proficient writing will lead to proficient reading, almost naturally!

Go to the nearest music store and purchase “manuscript paper”. A whole book is typically $5-$10 dollars. If you want to make your own, reach over to the printer stand and steal a clean white sheet of paper from the stack, then scrounge through the desk drawer and find a pen or pencil.

Better yet! If you know the ‘Control/Tab’ trick on your computer, simply open your word processor and use it. Use the Control/Tab trick to switch back and forth between this note and your word processor.
Whatever you do . . . get ready to write!

The picture attached is a basic hand exercise written out. Look for next weeks lesson where we get into the nitty gritty of writing your first beats, reviewing the note tree and understanding note values.

As always, please contact me with ANY questions you may have on this – I’m always willing to help!!

Happy New Year – 2013 is going to be a great year on the drums!!

Brett Frederickson
DrummersRule Drum Lessons