Sheet music for drummers?

I’ve sheet music for nearly every commonly used musical instrument except drums. Is there such a thing? and what does it look like?

Well, some drums (steel drums and alike) are tuned pretty acurately to notes, so you can use regular sheet music.

otherwise its alot like sheet music, on a scale, with time sig, but instead of notes, it may have symbols representing a particular drum.

i think

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Yeah, I remember it from school band class, though I was not a drummer. It had little Xs with shafts, instead of normal notes. Details beyond that, I do not recall.

I was just discussing this with my brother the drummer last night. The sheet music has litle x’s with lines like a normal sheet music. Usually it has a time signature, bars and instead of note lines it will have one line for the Hi-hat, one line for the snare, for the bass, for the toms, timpali’s etc…

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Ahh, yes, I remember those from my days in the percussion section of the middle school Beginning Band. As I recall, and it’s been a long time, what would be an F in ordinary sheet music was the bass, the A was the snare, and there were little Xs floating above the cleff for suspended cymbal. All other details elude me right now.

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Some composers are conscientious enough to use a special symbol to signify that such music (for unpitched percussions) is on a percussion clef. (The tympani and glockenspiels and stuff are on regular clefs.) Then you never get confused, and can easily remember which line is for snare and which is for thunder sheet.

Some less-conscientious composers mark the dang thing as a bass clef, which causes headaches for naive students like myself, who will occasionally forget which clef they’re reading, and say stupid things like, “Hey, he wrote this thing with a low F playing on every downbeat! That’s pretty radical considering this movement’s in the key of E, isn’t it?”

Okay, I never actually said that, but I could have. And then I would have turned red as my fellow students began to explain what a bass drum is.

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As has been noted (!), the annotation was a bit different (x’s), and was more freestyle, with emphasis noted in different ways. I briefly learned an annotation for a “standard” kit. And notation was based on the instrument, not the note, generally. I played with two people in my life who insisted on a “keyed” set of toms, but generally percussion scores I saw were pretty mechanical and open to interpretation.

neuro-trash grrrl has it right for sheet music for a drum (or “trap”) set. The location on the staff tells the drummer which of the drums is to be played. Typically, things like cymbals and clicks on the drum rims are indicated with notes that have x’s instead of the standard note head. The stick and flags coming off of it are the same. Otherwise, things like the snares, toms, and bass are indicated with regular notes. Time signatures are used, but there is no key signature (since the instruments are not “pitched”). Sometimes a bass clef is used, but more recently you see a drum clef, which looks like a tall rectangle stretched between the second and fourth lines.

Pitched percussion (which include xylophones, glockenspiels, and tympani) use regular sheet music.

Sometimes in orchestral or band literature, an unpitched drum has just enough lines for the instrument, instead of a full staff. A snare drum may only have one line that all the notes are written on. A part for 3 tom-tom drums, may only have four lines, with the notes for each individual drum written in the spaces.

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to understand what the composer/arranger is wanting, but there are some differences. A note with slash marks through it’s stem (or simply over the note in the case of a whole note) indicates a roll. The type of roll depends on the number of slashes. A note with a grace note in front of it in a snare part indicates a “flam” (both sticks hit the drum at more-or-less the same time). And so on.

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The slashes aren’t peculiar to drums, being used to indicate repeated 8th, 16th, etc., notes on other instruments.

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