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Rhythm Notation

The best way to get a real good look at a rhythm is to "freeze" its motion so that its structure and relationship to other rhythms can be examined. While we can not take a photograph of a rhythm, we can create a graphic representation. This is done by using symbols to represent the strokes and evenly marking these onto a time scale.

 

The Strokes:

 

O = open tone

S = slap

B = base

P = pressed base

M = muff tone

t = touch

r = right hand

l = left hand

x = stroke by stick or bell

h-t = heel toe, usually with the left hand

 

Time scales are evenly spaced (proportional) and are numbered and divided with bar lines for ease of reading. Here are some popular ones:

 

|1 2 3 4|

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &|

|1 2 3 4 5 6|

|1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &|

|1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3|

 

Once a rhythm is written down, it can be easily examined for many different types of information. This information can be classified and lableled, which helps in composing, soloing, finding variations, and in remembering rhythms.

 

Type Of Information

 

Beat structure

Horizontal structure

Vertical relationships

Hand pattern geometry

 

Typical Label

 

Duple, triple, etc.

Binary, ternary, etc.

Polymetric, crossed, etc.

Alternating, broken alt., etc.

 

Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming

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