Learn to read the drum sheet music-Drum notation

Drum set elements in drum sheet music

Drum set elements – The primary elements in the drum set are the snare drum, the bass drum (or kick) and the hi-hat.
Every drum set includes also one or more toms, one or more floor toms and one or more cymbals.
The most common cymbals are the ride (for accompaniment) and the crash (for accented strokes). The scores shown in this page also contain the conventional symbols corresponding to the drum set elements, as commonly used in the drum sheet music related to the video lessons online.


Drums – In drum sheet music the various drum elements are represented by a rounded note.
Each note position corresponds to a specific drum set element.

Drum sheet music legend - Drums

Bass drum       Snare drum         Tom1              Tom2               Tom3               Tom4           

Cymbals – In drum sheet music cymbals and hi-hat are represented by a x-shaped note.
Each note position corresponds to a specific cymbal type.

Drum sheet music legend - Cymbals

Closed HiHat     Open HiHat       Foot HiHat            Ride             Ride Bell             Crash             

Notes and rests in drum sheet music

Notes and rests – Musical charts and drum sheet music are made by notes and rests, their value expresses the duration.
The value is expressed in relation to the measure: in a 4/4 rhythm, the sum of the notes and rests values contained in a measure is 4/4.
The first score shows the different notes, the second one shows the rests of the corresponding value.

Drum sheet music - Notes

       Whole 1/1          Half 1/2         Quarter 1/4       Eighth 1/8     Sixteenth 1/16 Thirty-second 1/32 Sixty-fourth 1/64

Drum sheet music - Rests

Rest whole          Rest 1/2            Rest 1/4           Rest 1/8          Rest 1/16          Rest 1/32         Rest 1/64     

Tie and dot in drum sheet music

Tie – In drum sheet music, a tie joins together two notes of the same pitch indicating that they are to be played for the combined duration of their time values.
Dot – A dot on the right side of a note or rest shows that the time value is increased by half.
For example, the value of a dotted quarter note becomes 3/8.



This score contains an example of tied note and an equivalent notation, but using a rest symbol.

Drum sheet music - Tie


The following score shows an example of dotted note and equivalent notations, using a tie or a rest symbol.

Drum sheet music - Dot

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