Bass drum notation for drum sheet music

drummanic58

Active member
There is a bass drum notation that I can't figure out. I have seen it in quite a few drums beats for different songs and I don't know what it means. It's notated upside down like a bass but it goes down at the bottom and the bottom of the note goes back up again. Here, it would be the notes like the ones on the bottom row of this sheet music that I think is on the + of 3.


thejokerstevemillerband.png
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
You are right, it is on the" and" of 3 (bars 11,12 and 13). Bar 10 is on the "and" of 1, Bar 8 is on the "and" of 4. There should be an Eighth Note rest before the note to easily understand it better. It is just an off beat Eighth Note
 

drummanic58

Active member
You are right, it is on the" and" of 3 (bars 11,12 and 13). Bar 10 is on the "and" of 1. Bar 8 is on the "and" of 4. There should be an eighth note rest before the note to easily understand it better.
Would you play it like a regular bass drum note? Why is it notated like that?
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
Yeah, you would play it like a regular bass drum note. Whoever did the transcription either forgot to write in the Eighth Note rests or was too lazy to include them. There is an Eighth Note rest in the first bar(after the pickup fill), don't know why the person didn't include them in the rest of the Transcription.
 
Last edited:

drummanic58

Active member
Yeah, you would play it like a regular bass drum note. Whoever did the transcription either forgot to write in the Eighth Note rests or was too lazy to include them. There is an Eighth Note rest in the first bar, don't know why the person didn't include them in the rest of the Transcription.
So there should be a rest on the note in front of it with just the high hat?
 

drummanic58

Active member
That's what so frustrating to me is aside from the fact that it's already hard to find drum sheet music on a lot of songs, everyone does the notations differently. I hate it. I wish I had a better ear and that current stuff wasn't so hard to play. I'm looking at a couple Taylor Swift songs for example and some of the sheet music and what the people doing covers are playing are not consistent.
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
So there should be a rest on the note in front of it with just the high hat?
I think you may mean behind it. It should be an Eighth Note rest followed by a single Eighth Note.

Also the person that transcribed it could put quarter note rests on beats 1 and 3 of the snare line and a quarter note rests on beat 2 and 4 of the bass drum line.

Sometimes people are not aware of how to insert rests depending on the notation software they are using so they just leave them out. I have MuseScore3 and it took me a while to learn just how to do simple things like insert rests where I wanted them.
 
Last edited:

drummanic58

Active member
I think you may mean behind it. It should be an Eighth Note rest followed by a single Eighth Note.

Sometimes people are not aware of how to insert rests depending on the notation software they are using so they just leave them out. I have MuseScore3 and it took me a while to learn just how to do simple things like insert rests where I wanted them.
It's like drummers totally get cheated because we don't want to learn how to play guitar or piano. I mean the hardest modern thing I can play right now is "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People and that is not easy at 130+ beats per minute.
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
There are some sites that have decent transcriptions for drums, OnlineDrummer.com and DrumSetSheetMusic.com has good charts for songs you may be looking for. They only cost about $5.00 for each song transcription.

Good for you though that you are willing to learn how to read music, it is something that will always come in handy as you keep progressing. It will get easier.
 
Last edited:

brentcn

Platinum Member
It's like drummers totally get cheated because we don't want to learn how to play guitar or piano. I mean the hardest modern thing I can play right now is "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People and that is not easy at 130+ beats per minute.

To be fair, the drum set just hasn't been around that long. Piano has been around since about 1700; the guitar (lute) is even older. The drum set (trap kit) only came about around during the 1920s-1930s. And there was zero notation for it for a long time. Also, just because you can find piano and guitar transcriptions more easily, that doesn't mean those are accurate, either, and YouTube videos are full of approximations and interpretations as well. Once in a while you'll find something that's totally legit, but it's rare.

As a drum teacher, my advice is: don't rely completely on a transcription from the internet. You need to use your ears, too, and, more broadly, you need to understand the style of drumming in a song, and why things are played when they are. The style of both Pumped Up Kicks and The Joker is rock, where the right hand plays 8ths on the hi-hat, the left plays 2 and 4 on the snare (mostly), and the bass drum plays some pattern that complements the groove coming from the rest of the band. If you learn about playing rock in drum lessons, you'll learn not just how to play those specific patterns, but a bunch of other patterns too, plus fills, and how to improvise with them. All of this will make learning a new song in that style much faster and easier.

Don't get me wrong: it's important to learn to play a complete song all the way through, too. But if all you're doing is learning songs by sight, the notation is going to be overwhelmingly difficult.
 

someguy01

Well-known member
Also remember that music prior to the 2000s has lots of inconsistencies because it wasn't set to a grid, played to a click, and easily edited. One of my personal favourites is to see people try and transcribe Bonham. John played never played things the same twice, he felt it out and played what felt right. The 1000s of videos on "Fool in the Rain" each have a different notation for the cemetery's worth of ghosts he dropped in there.
But if all you're doing is learning songs by sight, the notation is going to be overwhelmingly difficult.
He's 100% right here, listen and read for the most successful of endeavors.
 

drummanic58

Active member
To be fair, the drum set just hasn't been around that long. Piano has been around since about 1700; the guitar (lute) is even older. The drum set (trap kit) only came about around during the 1920s-1930s. And there was zero notation for it for a long time. Also, just because you can find piano and guitar transcriptions more easily, that doesn't mean those are accurate, either, and YouTube videos are full of approximations and interpretations as well. Once in a while you'll find something that's totally legit, but it's rare.

As a drum teacher, my advice is: don't rely completely on a transcription from the internet. You need to use your ears, too, and, more broadly, you need to understand the style of drumming in a song, and why things are played when they are. The style of both Pumped Up Kicks and The Joker is rock, where the right hand plays 8ths on the hi-hat, the left plays 2 and 4 on the snare (mostly), and the bass drum plays some pattern that complements the groove coming from the rest of the band. If you learn about playing rock in drum lessons, you'll learn not just how to play those specific patterns, but a bunch of other patterns too, plus fills, and how to improvise with them. All of this will make learning a new song in that style much faster and easier.

Don't get me wrong: it's important to learn to play a complete song all the way through, too. But if all you're doing is learning songs by sight, the notation is going to be overwhelmingly difficult.
I took drum lessons as a teenager for 5 years. I used to have my own kit too. I have been listening to the music as well and have noticed some inconsistencies already. I wish I could afford to get back into taking lessons again and getting a kit. The improvisation is right. I was watching a tutorial on how to play "Like A Virgin" by Madonna because I was having a hard time getting the speed and the timing right on the fills. The person in the video was saying that Tony Thompson who played drums on that record improvised the fills. For other songs like Mary Jane's Last Dance by Tom Petty, it's more predictable and follows a pattern. Listening is important. That is one of the things I learned taking lessons. The other thing is, people who notate things on their own can alter it to make it easier for them to play or just to play it in a way that works better for them.
 

Rochelle Rochelle

Senior Member
I do some of my own transcriptions and I leave out the obvious rests because it looks too busy with them all in there. On most grooves it's pretty obvious where they are, but with fills that aren't obvious I put them in.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
There should be an Eighth Note rest before the note to easily understand it better. It is just an off beat Eighth Note
Not necessary. The bass drum notation is lined up with the notes above it so it's easy to see how things line up. If you really want to have the bass drum's part notated on its own, you would put it on its own staff. The way it is notated is perfectly fine. Not only that, but the song itself is quite straightforward and it would probably make more sense to just memorize the arrangement, writing out any tricky parts or important fills.
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
It's weird to me-- usually if you're going to write the bass drum like it's a separate part, you put rests. I don't like that style of notation, but it is standard practice, like with piano music. In writing out exact parts for drumset, I almost always prefer having everything on one set of stems.

I prefer the one set of stems also.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Does it help by practicing notating things on your own? Just in general to train your ears to listen better?
Absolutely, start transcribing your own charts. It trains your ears, and you learn a lot about notation, and about what people play. Here's a thing I wrote with some suggestions for doing that.

One key part of this is that professional players usually do not think in terms of exact notes-- instead it's a broader approach about styles, fills, stops, accents, ensemble figures. The rhythms of the other instruments are important. How you do those things and fit with the other players is usually up to you. So your transcription is not the only way to play the song, it's just one player's interpretation of it.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
To be fair, the drum set just hasn't been around that long. Piano has been around since about 1700; the guitar (lute) is even older. The drum set (trap kit) only came about around during the 1920s-1930s. And there was zero notation for it for a long time. Also, just because you can find piano and guitar transcriptions more easily, that doesn't mean those are accurate, either.

I've learned that many drum transcriptions are written by people who don't play drums. They use what they know about piano theory & try to approximate it to the drum set.
Rarely does it work.

So we can take the sheets & make notations that help us.

How well we write is also up for discussion. Do you write a chart for a song you're doing so others can read it, or do you just make up your own language on the page?
I've charted out a song that we were working on & if another player tried to read my scratch, they'd be mad too.
 
Top