Bass Drum Notation??!


Senior Member
When reading notation, if a bass drum beat has a rest after it am i to assume that it means to bury the beater to stop the drum ringing, and if there is no rest to let the resonance occur?


Platinum Member
No... burying vs. not burying is not something that is generally notated... its just the way you play.

With drum notation you generally don't have to worry about "letting things ring/sustain" like with most other instruments. Everything is assumed to be staccato. So, for example, a 16th followed by a 16th rest is usually interpreted the same as a single 1/8th.


You can choose to put that context in yourself. A lot of older big band charts will have accented bass drum hits and the like. It really depends on what styles of music you're playing. If the assumption is that you will be playing 'off' the head (e.g. if you're playing small-combo Jazz music) then an accent may denote burying the head - although that kind of music is rarely notated that precisely.

At the moment I'm normally playing 'off' the head and as a result I use buried hits as a change of tonality and accenting. It's a skill I'm developing and having real 'tonal' control of the bass drum is a genuine rarity amongst a lot of younger modern players.

There is no 'formal' notation for a buried bass drum hit but knowing when it's musically appropriate is an important skill to have.


Senior Member
Thanks for the info. Just that i've seen pieces of music where sometimes the rest is there and then other times not and it confused me! Was just slightly worried that i wasn't paying attention to something.