Drum Theory & Notation
The Drum Theory & Notation section of DrumLessons.com is designed to help you learn the basics of drum theory, notation, and note values. Studying drum theory and notation is not as hard as some make it out to be. These free drum lessons will make it even easier. They're packed with cool exercises, and a bunch of drum beats and drum fills that you can use to practice your reading skills and the ability to play different note values. Knowing how to read and write music is a very valuable asset. It enables you to take advantage of the great amount of material there's out there in book and video format, and use the content created for DrumLessons.com to its fullest potential. It's also a great skill to have if you're planning on being a studio musician, since you'll have to read and write drum charts from time to time. Watch the free drum lesson "How To Count Quarter Notes" to get started right away.
When you tap your knee with your hand or head bob to the sound of music, you're actually playing along to the main pulse of the song. In most cases the main pulse is the quarter note. The quarter note is the note value from where the other note values from this section are derived. Much like quarter notes, 8th notes are extremely important and common in western music. They are played twice as fast as quarter notes and are preeminent in styles of music like rock, pop, funk, soul, bossa nova, cha cha, heavy-metal, mambo, and even hip-hop. Through the free drum lessons "How To Count Quarter Notes" and "How To Count 8th Notes" you'll learn how to count, read, and write quarter notes and 8th notes with some exercises, drum beats, and drum fills.
Sixteenth notes are twice as fast as 8th notes and are very popular amongst rock, funk, heavy-metal, and Latin drummers. Thirty-second notes are twice as fast as 16th notes and are heavily used in drum fills and as drum beat embellishments, especially in rock based styles of music, pop, and funk. The free drum lessons "How To Count 16th Notes" and "How To Count 32nd Notes" are great resources to learn about how to count, read, and write 16th notes and 32nd notes.
Eighth notes, 16th notes, and 32nd notes are all even subdivisions. With triplet based subdivisions things change a little bit in the note value front. The 8th note triplet subdivision is an odd subdivision. It has three notes per quarter note and is heavily used in jazz, blues and reggae, and in pretty much every other style of music - to a certain extent. Eighth note triplets are half as fast as 8th notes and half as slow as 16th notes. You can learn more about 8th note triplets with the free drum lesson "How To Count 8th Note Triplets". Much like 8th notes have in 16th notes a note value which is twice as fast and in quarter notes a note values that is twice as slow, 8th note triplets have with 16th note triplets and quarter note triplets the same relationship.
Sixteenth note triplets are a main stay in hip-hop, modern gospel, jazz, funk, and in a lot of different styles of rock. The free drum lesson "How To Count 16th Note Triplets" is a great resource to learn how to count, read, and write 16th notes triplets. Quarter note triplets aren't as commonly used as the other note values we have been discussing so far. But you can still find them in orchestral drumming and especially in reggae and heavy-metal drum fills. To learn more about this mysterious note value, watch the free drum lesson "How To Count Quarter Note Triplets".
The exercises from the free drum lessons on drum theory and notation are great for ear training purposes, and for practicing your ability to move between different note values. The cool thing about them is that some are actually applicable to real musical situations. So move the strokes around the drum set and see what you can come up with.