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Drum Notation for Digital Recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Mikhail, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. Mikhail


    Jul 18, 2006
    I’m relatively new to transcribing and am having a bit of trouble notating drum fills. I’ve been using Easy Beat, MuseScore, and Amazing Slow Downer to learn songs for quite a while; they’re great for learning written or recorded parts. When transcribing drum patterns & fills I have a hard time getting them to sound right, let alone natural. Any suggestions for books or study guides for notating fills, etc. to help me learn the subtleties? Thanks
  2. When you say “transcribing,” do you mean listening to a recording and writing out the part accurately?

    Are you trying to notate the drum part note for note?

    Are you writing the drum part so a drummer can play it?
  3. Mikhail


    Jul 18, 2006
    Listening to a part & writing it out accurately. The ability to write it down note for note is like getting a 100 on a test, which is... perfect, but I’m programming practice tracks and just need to see how fills are notated, with subtle 16 & 32 note hits & rests. Straight beats aren’t an issue, but any interesting fills require more rhythmic knowledge than I have. Thanks.
  4. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Are you a drummer? I ask because in addition to being a bassist I'm also a drummer and learning/practicing rudiments unlocked the mysteries of many rhythms for me. Suddenly playing fills with dotted eighth notes, shuffle patterns, swing patterns, ghost notes, etc. all made a lot more sense. Even if you're not a drummer grab yourself a practice pad and a pair of sticks to work on a few basic rudiment patterns. I'll bet your notation job will be much easier as a result.
    SteveCS and Bassbeater like this.
  5. Mikhail


    Jul 18, 2006
    Not a drummer, but I have sticks & a pad around here somewhere! I’m trying to figure out fills, turnarounds, & such. Your advice sounds good, thanks. Any suggestions as far as books or web pages?
  6. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Drumeo is an incredible resource with lots of free content and some excellent low cost materials.
  7. If you’re just programming drum tracks, and you don’t have the rhythmic notation knowledge to do it, there are plenty of programs that allow you tap in the rhythms in real time. GarageBand, drum machines, mid pads, etc. Maybe pursue another option instead of one that requires you to notate the parts.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If you aren't racing a deadline, you can also get a quick education by studying well produced MIDI drum loops in your genre(s).

    If your DAW transcribes (or you have transcription software), you can follow the notation as you listen to the patterns—and loop or slow down the segments that most interest you until you understand how they're put together.
  9. Ulf_Hansson


    Apr 15, 2014
    You may have to lower your expectations somewhat -- there is a reason human drummers are still used for a lot of music production. Even if you can come really close to "the real thing" with modern drum software (especially when it generates fills and variations based on the built-in styles), trying to notate and manually copy a good human drummer is close to impossible. There are just too many subtle things that will give you away.
  10. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    I use an MPC as midi input and record the drum parts a few pieces at a time and overlay them. IE kick and snare, then brass, then toms. I would like a full sized e-kit, but the pads do the trick. You can get single midi drum pads that you can play with sticks too.
  11. Bubby Brown

    Bubby Brown Supporting Member

    Oct 10, 2014
    Get an e kit and learn the basics to playing the drums. 180 drums is a good site to learn on. Even if it's only for the bigger picture of programming parts you will write better programs and it will make you a better bass player. You might even start trying to be a drummer and find some new inspiration, that's what happened to me.
    Last edited: May 4, 2018

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