Does anyone play finger drums and read drum notation?

Was wondering if anyone does and if they have tips about it, because it seems like a really useful skill to have to be able to pick up and play songs quickly.


I can read notes and therefore also read some drum notation. It’s actually not that hard to learn!

With this page you’re more or less done >>

For the lessons on the website I use my own notation system (that I’ve improved in the new version of the site actually) because I feel it can be a little more clear for finger drummers. A combination of pad diagrams and some sort of left to right drum notation with colors and symbols to indicate left and right hands and loud and soft hits seems like a better way to very clearly write down what has to happen.

Learning drum notation is something very handy to learn on the side though. You can learn from books as long as you train yourself to “translate” from drums to a 4x4 pad controller. That will always be somewhat of an extra step.

@Robert_Mathijs, I opened the page which you suggested and it is very good starting point indeed. Could you please suggest respective sounds from AD software? The wording in the software and in website is different so it is difficult to understand what is what.


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So to translate:

Snare drum = Snare
Bass Drum = Kick
Hi Hat = Hi Hat :slight_smile:
Open Hihat on the pads = The same note as hihat but then with this extra symbol there in drum notation.
Ride Cymbal = Ride
Crash cymbal = Cymbal 1 (the right top corner)
Toms are just high tom, mid tom, low tom as written.
And you can put any sound on those sidestick pads. So cross stick, or cowbell, anything you want.

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In AD it is clear what is closed and open Hi-Hat. What about Hi-hat with foot and just Hi-hat?

@Robert_Mathijs have

you ever encountered such dashed notes?

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In standard music notation, the snare notes that you have rings around are known as Tremolo. I have seen some notation that suggests that a snare note with three tremolo lines means
Snare Doubles. However, I have found this explanation too. I hope it helps.


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You might find this link useful: -


Ah that’s very good info!

Grooves never stuck longer than a few minutes after I ended a lesson. I never thought about notation. That’s for my piano over on that side of the room, not drums on this side. Things changed completely after I watched Rob’s video “What I have been working on for a year” or something like that. He drew a simple bar with only two notes to practice counting. Game changed for me that very moment. Papers all over my house now with little scribbles for every groove I hear, timing has improved significantly too. It is much easier to get back in when I fall out of step. So I can say strongly that is helping me.

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Is there any method or tool for exporting drum notation from midi files? It would be very useful if someone could translate for example the midi tracks that AD2 provides into drum notation or even better into simple diagrams for finger drummers.

Yeah it’s possible for sure. I think the folks over at Melodics have a system that does exactly that. Translating midi into this visual thing for people to play along to. I don’t know of a free app that does this though. I write all my diagrams myself in Adobe Illustrator.

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Your diagrams are great, Rob. I’m not at the stage where I can look at standard notation and make sense of it without tremendous effort, but scrolling notation leads me nowhere and irritates me in fact. You got the balance right.

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Thanks, that’s actually very nice to hear! My mission from the beginning has been to bring finger drumming to the masses and that requires a balance between eliminating obstacles (one of which I found is reading drum notation) and at the same time trying to teach people how to actually get it right, which can be difficult at times.

I also think I managed to strike a good balance, but it’s always nice to hear this from somebody else.

Vince, AD2 has a little Beat Visualization window that is practically a notation staff.

With very little work you can transcribe the beats you like. I learn the beat inside and out doing this exercise, and it’s fun. As if we don’t have enough grooves to work on, provided by Rob already! But some of those AD2 beats are just so funky and irresistible!

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Hey that’s a very smart solution!

I have just started fingerdrumming less than two months ago and I can see that your diagrams are very readable and easy to follow. I do wish though, that your diagrams also were shown in drum notation. I can see (at least) two advantages having drum notation: 1. It would make it easier to move onto other drum courses after you finished QFG and 2. if you are used to play with another pad layout, you could easily follow your course without having to learn both a new pad layout and/or a new notation system. And finally, it would be easier to play with other musicians if you can read standard notation.
I really enjoy your course, but I can also see the benefits of having all the great grooves you come up with written in standard notation. :smiley:

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A couple of lessons or a course about drum notation is on my radar for the future for sure. I hope that one day I can also hire some drum student to transcribe all the beats on the site into normal drum notation. That would be a nice addition to the learning materials for sure! It won’t happen anytime soon though.

Thanks for your reply Robert. I´m also following the XpressPad course which is based on standard notation and a special pad layout which is very good for a lefthanded fingerdrummer like me. :smiley: Off course it can be a bit confusing from time to time but I believe I get the best of two worlds … learning drum notation from XP and great grooves from QFG. :smile:

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Just wanted to update this topic with the message that since last year, every lesson on the website has sheet music notation. So, yeah, it’s here and it’s awesome. Thanks to the help of Bruno!

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