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How to Count Drums

Learn about drum counting from drum expert Jason Gianni in this Howcast video.


When you're reading music it's important to understand how to count the note values that you're dealing with. And to begin with, counting normally starts based on a bar of four four. Which means four quarter notes to a measure. And the quarter note is the one that's getting the individual count. So the amount of time that you have is basically takes place over four counts.

In the rhythm scale, you're dealing with notes that go from whole notes, to half notes, to quarter notes, to eighth notes, to sixteenth notes. And beyond to some other notes, like triplets and thirty second notes. But we're going to just stick with that as a beginning step. To count whole notes you would basically just start with four counts that last for as long as the measure. So, in that, you're just going to be able to just count one note. The whole note lasts for the whole measure. As in one. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four.

And that note that I'm stressing on one is a whole note. And it lasts for the length of the bar. As you divide the whole note in half, you get two half notes. And half notes, because they're now worth two beats, are going to fall on beat one of the bar, and beat three of the bar. So it would sound something like one. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four.

That's your half notes in the placement of half notes. You divide the half notes down, and it turns into four quarter notes. And if you're ever just counting normally, like beginning of a song, one. Two. Three. Four. That's typically what your quarter notes are. They fill up each beat of the bar. Dividing quarter notes down, you're going to end up with eight eighth notes in one bar of time. The numbers are still there, as in one, two, three, four. But in between the numbers you'll add a little plus sign, which we call an and.

So it sounds like one, and two, and three, and four, and. And then finally dividing down to sixteenth notes, all the ones and the ands and the two and the ands are still there. But you're inserting some other syllables as an e, and a a. And one grouping of sixteenth notes would be one e and a. And to fill up the whole bar would sound like, one e and a, two e and a, three e and a, four e and a.

And that's basically the way you count a standard rhythm scale.

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