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Thread: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

  1. #1

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    Default Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Hey folks,

    Just wondering could someone clear this up for me as I'm not too sure what the right terminology is for what I'm about to ask

    in 4/4 time, there are 4 beats per bar with each beat having a value of 1 quarter note.

    1) Now, I know what the above statement means but regarding the length of the beat, am I saying it right?
    The beat has a value of a 1/4 note. Is that right way to say it.


    2) In the sample below:



    Is it correct to say that:
    The kick is played on beat 1 and 3.
    The snare is played on beats 2 and 4.
    And the Hi Hat is played on every 1/8th note.


    Is it incorrect to say that:
    The Hi Hat is played on every 1/8th beat ?


    Is there a difference between saying beat and note?
    Are the two terms interchangeable or are notes a sub division of beats?

    I think I almost understand it but just need to be certain.
    If someone could help me clear this up, I'd be very grateful.
    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    1. Yes, or you could say "The quarter note gets the beat"

    2. Yes

    Is it incorrect to say that:
    The Hi Hat is played on every 1/8th beat ?
    People sometimes say it like that but it's not correct. Use "note".


    Is there a difference between saying beat and note?
    Are the two terms interchangeable or are notes a sub division of beats?
    Beats are always relevant to what note gets assigned to it. If 4 is the bottom number, a quarter note is assigned to each beat. If 8 is the bottom number, an eighth note is assigned to it. Remember the definition of a time signature: The top note is how many beats per measure and the bottom number is what note is assigned to those beats. Therefore, if you have a bar of sixteen 16th notes, you wouldn't say, "There are 16 beats in the measure". You would say, "There are sixteen 16th notes in this measure." The reason it doesn't work is because what if you have 3 groups of 4 sixteenth notes but on beat four you have 2 eighth notes? You can't then say, "There are 12 beats in this measure." See how it doesn't add up? You would say, "There are 4 beats to the measure (in 4/4 time) and 3 groups of 4 sixteenth notes on beats 1,2 and 3. And then two 8th notes on beat 4.

    Make sense?
    - Tom

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  3. #3

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    drummer is correct

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Thank you, much appreciated.

    Being a guitarist I've always (wrongly) thought of notes as a pitch, but now realise I should be thinking a note can be a pitched or unpitched sound and was thinking of a beat as a hit (as in you "beat" the drum).

    Having been a sole songwriter (ie, writing all the parts) I've come to appreciate bass and drums so much more and the more I know of the rhythm section the more it improves everything. In a roundabout way it has me reading music from notation due to midi programming, has me thinking in strumming terms that I'm strumming a (for example) a 16th note pattern instead of strumming this way captures a mood, and that has tightened up my guitar playing a lot. I'm also composing differently because instead of writing guitar and then filling in the background with bass and drummers, I'm thinking along the lines of interplay between all the different instruments.

    The more you know......



    *Incidentally I'd recommend to everyone that they watch "Howard Goodall - How music works" - There's 4 parts covering melody, rhythm, bass (and something else which I can't remember offhand). Very informative and of interest even if you don't play an instrument.

    It's available on youtube at the moment, just put in the title I have in the quotation marks above.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Drummer is spot on!
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomred View Post
    Thank you, much appreciated.

    Being a guitarist I've always (wrongly) thought of notes as a pitch, but now realise I should be thinking a note can be a pitched or unpitched sound and was thinking of a beat as a hit (as in you "beat" the drum).

    Having been a sole songwriter (ie, writing all the parts) I've come to appreciate bass and drums so much more and the more I know of the rhythm section the more it improves everything. In a roundabout way it has me reading music from notation due to midi programming, has me thinking in strumming terms that I'm strumming a (for example) a 16th note pattern instead of strumming this way captures a mood, and that has tightened up my guitar playing a lot. I'm also composing differently because instead of writing guitar and then filling in the background with bass and drummers, I'm thinking along the lines of interplay between all the different instruments.

    The more you know......



    *Incidentally I'd recommend to everyone that they watch "Howard Goodall - How music works" - There's 4 parts covering melody, rhythm, bass (and something else which I can't remember offhand). Very informative and of interest even if you don't play an instrument.

    It's available on youtube at the moment, just put in the title I have in the quotation marks above.
    Having basic knowledge and understanding/respecting every instrument makes you a much stronger songwriter and an amazing band-mate. Everyone in my band plays eachother's instruments so when it comes to songwriting and figuring stuff out it's very easy to work with them.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomred View Post
    Thank you, much appreciated.

    Being a guitarist I've always (wrongly) thought of notes as a pitch, but now realise I should be thinking a note can be a pitched or unpitched sound and was thinking of a beat as a hit (as in you "beat" the drum).

    Having been a sole songwriter (ie, writing all the parts) I've come to appreciate bass and drums so much more and the more I know of the rhythm section the more it improves everything. In a roundabout way it has me reading music from notation due to midi programming, has me thinking in strumming terms that I'm strumming a (for example) a 16th note pattern instead of strumming this way captures a mood, and that has tightened up my guitar playing a lot. I'm also composing differently because instead of writing guitar and then filling in the background with bass and drummers, I'm thinking along the lines of interplay between all the different instruments.

    The more you know......



    *Incidentally I'd recommend to everyone that they watch "Howard Goodall - How music works" - There's 4 parts covering melody, rhythm, bass (and something else which I can't remember offhand). Very informative and of interest even if you don't play an instrument.

    It's available on youtube at the moment, just put in the title I have in the quotation marks above.
    Howard Goodall's stuff is very good to watch. Did you see a show of his called "Howard Goodall's Big Bangs" where there was an episode which discussed the 10th century Italian monk Guido Monaco, better known as Guido D'Arezzo, who gave us the modern notation system that we take for granted?







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  8. #8

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Yeah I'm a big fan.

    There's also a great one on how organs work and a series on 20th century Greats. All his stuff is very interesting.


    For some QI bonus points, he also wrote the theme tunes for Black Adder, Red Dwarf and QI itself

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Sorry, just one more (for the moment!) way of saying things which I'd like to confirm.

    Is it better to say
    "The hi hat plays 1/8th notes throughout"
    or
    "The hi hat sounds on every 1/8th note"

    From your explanations above, I think it's the first one but just want to be sure.

    Thanks.

  10. #10

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    Cool Re: Drum beats Vs. drum notes

    Hey, Tomred! Welcome aboard!

    Drummer pretty well explained it all in his original reply, but here are a couple of notes (or should it be beats?) from me:

    Unless your drums are tuned to specific musical pitches, the term "drum notes," as in A-sharp, B-flat, etc., don't really apply. The bass, floor tom, side toms, hi-hats--or in my case, the bongos and congas--are shown on separate lines to show which drum is played when. It makes it easy to introduce a piece of music for someone else to play, but for that same reason, it's difficult--and sometimes impossible--to transcribe a bongo or conga solo's notation when it's performed live.

    In your 8th-note post, BTW, I would go with option #2...

    Enjoy your drumming!
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