Posts Tagged ‘Art of Writing Drum Notation’

Brett Frederickson teaches how to play a Rute Solo on a drum set. This is the second video in a 2 part series. Brett is playing an improvised solo on his Yamaha Set with Vic Firth 505 rutes.

This video was filmed with two cameras, one moving and the other stationary, and the Audio is combined from both cameras. No Edits or cuts were made to the Audio in this video, and it is played at normal speed.

Brett Frederickson, owner and teacher of Drummers Rule! at, offers affordable drum lessons in Phoenix Arizona.

Brett Frederickson is a drum teacher based in Phoenix, AZ who teaches for a living. He has a degree in Music Performance from the Musicians Institute of California, taught drum line for 15 years, has opened up several drum clinics for musicians like David Garbaldi, Ken Mary, and Ray Riendeau, plus doing many clinics himself.

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:

Drummersrule notation_2

Drummersrule notation_7

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):

Drummersrule notation_3


Drummersrule notation_5

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