Best ways to chart and memorize song's


Gold Member
When I create drum parts for songs I write everything out note for note. While this helps me come up with very creative beats and fills learning everything note for note is very time consuming. I feel like I need to get things down faster but I don't want to short change my parts, but I also don't want to take forever getting things memorized like it seems to take me as is (my memory kind of sucks which is one reason I like to write thing's down).

One of the thing's that I've been thinking about doing is cutting back on the amount of beat and fill variations in song's to make it easier to remember all the parts. My current band can get pretty progy with very long song's and lots of parts. So if I write a ton of different fills and variations on the main beat's it can be very hard to remember all of them. But I don't want to repeat thing's too much in a song to where my parts get boring either.

This is all for original song's and original drum parts.

Any advice?


One thing I've done in the past is write the general beat on one line, then write out the fills or variations in tiny sections on the line(s) below that, with a little number above them so I know where to play them (e.g. "fill 1"; "fill 2"; "fill 3 & 9"; "ending" etc).

Much simpler than writing the whole song note-for-note, and it makes it much easier to memorise.


Platinum Member
The best way for me to memorize a song is to listen to it. If you are trying to memorize original songs, it might be good to record your practices and listen to playback.

I make my own abbreviated notes for praise and worship songs which include some of the following phrases:

Heartbeat pattern
"You to Me" pattern
4 on the floor
Cheesy Fill
Trashcan ending
Swell into chorus

The thing is, make notes that make sense to you!


Senior Member
That's not that helpful Bacterium....

Yes, ultimately memorizing tunes is the best way to really engage with them on an intuitive musical level, but charting can be helpful in the learning process!

I think it's true that everyone truly has there own system, and it varies with genre.

I studied with a great teacher at Drummer's Collective who would make charts that looked kind of like a big band chart, with the basic grooves written at the beginnings of sections, and important figures on top of the staff. So this way, every measure was accounted for, the form was locked down, the important info was there, but it wasn't all that time consuming (writing note for note seems like a lot of time!)

I think note for note is usually only helpful when transcribing.

My personal system is to have my songs sectioned out, by line, with relevant info, so something like this:

4 - Intro - No Drums
8 - Four on Floor BD
4 - Funky


16 - 7/8 - Spacy Intro (hits in mms. 14 & 15)
8 - 5/8 - Soft Cymbal


Platinum Member
For bass, I usually get Memphis charts.

For guitar, it's basically a Memphis chart with a lead sheet.

For drums, I typically use a sheet-music-esque shorthand.

Does anyone here have any formal drumming shorthand examples, like a Memphis chart, but for drumming?


"Uncle Larry"
It's kind of a personal thing, making notation that guides you through the song.

I write the arrangement out...intro/verse/verse/chorus/bridge/ solo/ bridge/ verse/ chorus/ ending/ for example. I abbreviate to save space. I usually don't write how many bars each section is, I just know it's the verse part (or whatever)

Then I write notes to myself what time sig, what bass drum pattern (that I make my own names up for), where the snare falls, where the dynamic bits are, if any, and any oddities like a cymbal chokes, rests, shout choruses, or what have you.

Tempo I go by my memory of how the song feels.
Sometimes I write detailed bits about certain parts if needed. I'm guessing we all do this in some form or another.

I've played whole nights off my charts when subbing. It's an essential skill, pretty easy really, to be able to break down a song into all of it's individual components and write it out.