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Thread: Hi Hat Drum Notation

  1. #1

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    Default Hi Hat Drum Notation

    Hi All,

    I have some questions about Hi Hat notation from a drum music book, actually, an older (1985) Rush drum music book. I have written out some of the notation I have questions about. On the top left, there is the notation for an open Hi Hat. I presume that means you strike the top Hi Hat cymbal with the two cymbals open (apart). The top middle notation is for a closed Hi Hat. I presume this means you hold the two cymbals closed with the foot pedal, and strike the top cymbal with the cymbals like that. Now, the big question. On the top right, there is just a Hi Hat notation. What does this mean? Is it different than the other two notations? What does this one mean?

    Now, on to the bottom line. The bottom left is 'Hi Hat with foot'. I presume that means you close the cymbals with your foot to get the 'chick' sound when the cymbals close close. Is that correct? Now, on the bottom right, what does 'Partially open hi hat' mean? I presume that means you strike the upper cymbal with a stick while the upper cymbal is just barely making contact with the lower cymbal, to get more of a sustained sound from both cymbals? Or am I totally off?

    So, really, I need to know what the upper right, and both bottom notations mean. In my VERY limited experience with drum music notation, it seems like there is a bit of variance in how these notations work. A few things seem to be different here and there, for example, I've seen cases where the snare drum in notated in a location other than the second space from the top on the staff, but is most commonly in that second space. I'm not sure if this is true with other drum notations as well. Does anyone know of any videos that demonstrate actual drum techniques to go along with written notation? That would be cool if such a thing exists.

    If anyone can help me understand these notations, I'd greatly appreciate it!!

    Now, just a tiny bit less than an absolute drum newbie
    DW Collectors Cherry kit, Ludwig Black Beauty Snare, DW SuperSolid Oak/Cherry Snare, DW Sabian Vault Edge Snare

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    The way I read it is, top left is open HH, top middle is closed, top right same thing closed. Bottom left played with foot and bottom left partially open so they sizzle just a little when you play them.

    I could be wrong but that's how I read it.
    Last edited by Markadiddle; 09-13-2013 at 09:40 AM.
    Stolen from EddieV:
    Boom, ching, boom boom ching, fuggadugga fuggadugga fuggadugga crash. Rinse, Repeat ad-nauseum.

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    Come on Mark. You steal copy. Just look at your signature.
    Quote Originally Posted by Texdrumr View Post
    Nothing says 'tough' like a drummer with ducklings on his drums. Ha!

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    I think he meant top right is closed.

    I agree. It's generally safe to assume that the notation is to be continued until they tell you to change. It keeps them from having to notate every note. But since I can't see the rest of the music I cannot determine if that is how they do it in this case. Sometimes they assume one position is the default and will notate only the departures from default. Also some people assume that closed is the default always and write it out with that in mind. Unfortunately music arrangers take a lot of liberties in writing out drum parts.

    One of the things about being a drummer (and a musician in general) is that often the interpretation is left up to you and those types of decisions are yours to make as you listen to the group and get a feel for what is right. If someone else disagrees with your choice you discuss it, come to agreement and move on.
    Life's too short to play the same solo twice. Improvise!

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySticks View Post
    I think he meant top right is closed.
    Ya, I mis-typed. I meant top right. Man, I don't even know my left from my right this morning. Time to go home and go back to bed. LOL!

    When I was first learning to read, the notation on the top right was closed HH.
    Stolen from EddieV:
    Boom, ching, boom boom ching, fuggadugga fuggadugga fuggadugga crash. Rinse, Repeat ad-nauseum.

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    Come on Mark. You steal copy. Just look at your signature.
    Quote Originally Posted by Texdrumr View Post
    Nothing says 'tough' like a drummer with ducklings on his drums. Ha!

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the replies. Looking at the music in its entirety, I think I agree with JohnnySticks. It must be that the Hi Hat notation, without a + or an O means to play the Hi Hat in the same position as the prior notation indicates. That is, if the last indicator was open, play open until the notation changes, same for closed indication. Thanks, guys. It seems obvious now, but it sure confused me until you helped.
    Last edited by cabasner; 09-13-2013 at 12:04 PM.
    Now, just a tiny bit less than an absolute drum newbie
    DW Collectors Cherry kit, Ludwig Black Beauty Snare, DW SuperSolid Oak/Cherry Snare, DW Sabian Vault Edge Snare

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    For clarification, I always have known it to be shown if the hats were to be played open, it would be noted over each note (the "0"):



    If they are closed (the "+"), it would show over the note when to close it, but then not show the "+" until the note needing to close off the open position again.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    A lot of music does that but there is enough out there that does it differently that it drives you crazy. And just when I think I've seen it all I come across a piece that takes me a half an hour and a phone call to a buddy to figure out.
    Life's too short to play the same solo twice. Improvise!

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Hi Hat Drum Notation

    And isn't it funny how some drum books and drum charts will put the hi-hat on the top line of the stave, whilst others will put it above? And then you come across charts or exercises where they indicate an open hi-hat by drawing a circle around the 'X' that is the note-head and tell you that's the open hat (whereas to me that would be one way to indicate a crash, for example).....yet there's nothing they can indicate where the closed hi-hat is after the open hi-hat? Frustrating enough as a student....even more frustrating when as a tutor, a student brings it in and says that's what the music teacher at school has given them! Then again, been doing this enough to take in all these differences.....I've even dubbed them 'notation dialects' as a sort of in-joke with friends of mine that read drum music as well, because a couple of us will sit there and go "Did you understand that one?" "...no...what the hell is that suppose to be? That doesn't tell me anything man, jeez..."

    It's a funny ol' world of drum notation.
    Last edited by Drumbledore; 09-13-2013 at 10:16 PM.
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