The Music Staff

Note Values & the Music Staff

Lesson Introduction

In this lesson we’ll be looking at the music staff where we will place our lessons within. This staff is in the 4/4 time signature, meaning there are four beats to the bar. This is the most common time signature and is found commonly throughout most modern forms of music.

It’s common to find in music books a reference to the music staff relative to where the notes will be placed based on the purpose of the lesson. The great thing with drums is that it’s interchangeable meaning you could change where the notes are indicated as long as you advise at the beginning of the music to be played.

The Music Staff

The standard Drum Music staff will consist of 5 lines with 4 spaces. 4/4 Indicates there are 4 quarter notes to the bar.

The Bass Drum

The Bass drum is located in the bottom gap on the music staff. It’s also often referred to as the Kick or Kick drum.

The Snare Drum

The Snare drum is located in the second gap simply referred to as the ‘snare‘.

The Hi Hat

The Hi Hat appears on the top line as a cross and are referred to as ‘Hats‘.

Note Values

Each bar consists of notes with note values, note values we are using here are Quarters, Eights and Sixteenths.Think of note values as a fraction or part of the bar as in a mathematical equation.

Quarter Notes: There are 4 Quarter notes per bar
Eighth Notes: There are 8 Eighth notes per bar
Sixteenth Notes: There are 16 Sixteenth per bar

Combinations: As long as the notes add up correctly, you can have any combination of these notes to make up 1 bar.

Now let’s take a look at them on the music staff.

Quarter Notes

Quarter notes have stems without flags, standing individually when there’s more than one as there’s no flag.

Quarter Note

A Quarter note

Quarter Notes on the Full Bar

Notice how many there are, 4.

Tip:

When you see the 4/4 symbol at the beginning of the bar this indicates there are 4 beats to the bar, this is called a time signature.

Eighth Notes

Eighth notes have stems with flags, standing individually when there’s more than one as there’s a join between notes.

Eighth Note

An Eighth note

Eighth Notes on the Full Bar

Notice how many there are, 8.

Sixteenth Notes

Sixteenth notes have stems with 2 flags, standing individually when there’s more than one as there’s a join between notes.

Sixteenth Note

A Sixteenth note

Sixteenth Notes on the Full Bar

Notice how many there are, 16.

Think of note values as fractions of the whole number, then look at a full bar being the whole number.

Refer to it as a mathematical equation:

  • 4/4 = 1 – Four Quarter notes equals 1 bar
  • 8/8 = 1 – Eight Eighth notes equals 1 bar
  • 16/16 = 1 – Sixteen Sixteenth notes equals 1 bar

Rests

Rest notes or ‘Rests’ are required where nothing is played in order to complete the mathematical equation of the bar. They look like this.

Quarter Rest

Eighth Rest

Sixteenth Rest

This concludes your lesson on theory, the music staff and note values. You can download this lesson here, or use this page as a reference to check back on as you progress.

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