Basic Theory to Get You Started

Before we really get going with the notes, it is helpful to know a few things about the musical staff you see below.  Lead drummers are forever yelling out things like "third bar,  second part" or "remember the last note in bar three".  In order for a drum corps to communicate effectively, they must know the common musical terms that aid in the navigation and execution of the music.  In order to navigate The Bare Bones, you must recognize and understand the basic music theory elements written below.  Reading a drum score is similar to reading a reference book.  To navigate a book effectively, you must understand the location and function of the table of contents, chapters, footnotes,  appendix, introduction etc. Once these terms are understood, it is much easier to find the information you are looking for.  Let's get started.  Here are the basics:

The Staff:  The horizontal line on which the music is written

Time Signature:  This tells you the number of beats there are in each bar and how those beats should be grouped.  It also lets you know if your drum score is in simple or compound time

Bar:  Also known as a measure, a bar contains the correct number of grouped notes to  match the time signature

Bar Line:  A small vertical line on the staff that lets you know when each bar is starting and finishing

Note Heads:  These dots let you know what and when you'll be playing.  In pipe band drumming, a note head written above the staff is played with the right hand and a note head written below the staff is played with the left 

Note Stems:  Stems let you know the value of the notes you'll be playing.  Note stems, when combined with note heads are collectively referred to as notes


Rhythm Tree

What is a Beam?

A beam is the horizontal line that joins individual notes into units of a beat making them MUCH easier to read.  Without beams, a drum score would look like this:
No one would ever be able to read a score written this way, even though the note values are correct.  It is amazing the difference you see in the music once the beams are added.  The chaos in the score above now gives way to order and organization.
Beams also show note values as demonstrated below.  A single eighth note has either one tail (or flag) if it is alone, or one beam if it is joined to another note.  Notes with one tail are always equal in value to notes with one beam.

The Mystery of Note Groupings

The "Dot and Cut"

Rhythm Syllables

Rest Syllables

Reels and Hornpipes