Drum Kit Notation, An Introduction To Reading Drumscore Sheet Music

If you're looking for a detailed giode to drum kit notation for drumscore.com, you've come to the right place. To ensure an organized guide to the various parts of the drum set, we have divided this section into multiple pages. Below, you'll find convenient links to specific pages dedicated to each part of the kit.

When transcribing for a pitched instrument, notes are positioned on the stave according to their pitch, the stave being the five horizontal lines you see on a piece of sheet music. Although a drum kit is not inherently pitched, this same concept is applied in drum kit notation. Notes are placed on the stave to indicate which part of the drum kit is played and typically, higher notes on the stave represent higher-pitched sounds, although this guideline is not absolute.

A huge difference when transcribing drum kit is the use of multiple different noteheads in combiation with positions on the stave to signify variations in sound. For example, drums are generally shown with a solid note head, while cymbals often use an 'x' note head. Some examples of common note heads are show here:

An example of commonly used note heads in drum kit notation

Drum kit notation methods vary, and there is no universally established template. While most transcribers adhere to a basic framework, recent additions to the standard kit, such as the china cymbal, percussive items, and electronic pads, lack standardized notation. Certain techniques, like striking the ride cymbal on the edge, also present similar challenges. The notation guide provided here is specific to drumscore notation. I am always open to discussing the choices made in notation, and you can reach me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further inquiries.

In the following pages, we will provide detailed discussions on each part of the kit used in drumscore.com transcriptions. The pages are categorized into 'drums,' 'cymbals,' and 'percussion.'

  • Drums - Drum Kit Notation for drums.
  • Cymbals - Drum Notation for cymbals.
  • Percussion - Notation for percussion.

Enhance your knowledge with our interactive Parts of the Kit Quiz.

If you just need a quick guide of what part of the kit is written where, you can Find That Here.

The closest drum kit has to a standarized notation is presented in This Book by Norman Weinberg, all principles presented here are followed in drumscore.com notation.


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