Emphasis placed on a particular note that gives it more stress than
drums - drums / drumsets that are void of electronic components.
Usually made of wood or synthetic material only. And electronic
drums are void of acoustic drums.
- a consistent rhythm that stresses beats 2 and 4 in common time.
In other "common" time signatures, the backbeat will land
elsewhere. For example, the backbeat lands on 4 and 10 in 12/8 time
on the drumset.
(kick drum) - the lowest pitched drum in a marching band or
with a drumset.
bata drums - a double headed, hour glass shaped drum originating
from Nigeria. It later migrated to Cuba and eventually to the US.
These drums can be played in the lap or with a strap around the
- typically referring to a drumhead that has a coated surface.
It's also a term referring to the "playing" side of the
- the edge of the drum that the head sits on. Bearing edges are
often sharpened to a smaller angle for greater attack, projection
and evenness of tone.
- a term popularized in drumming over the last 10 years. It refers
to permutation where all beats will move forward say, one eighth
note. This method will create numerous variations of rhythmic possibilities
on the drums.
music incorporating a bolero rhythm.
- an instrument that consists of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular
frame such as the glockenspiel, xylophone or marimba.
bodhran (bodhrán) - an Irish drum covered with goatskin.
beat - this beat was popularized by Bo Diddley, the famous blues
guitar player. It stems from early forms of Latin and afro-Cuban
rhythms (clave) derived from their respective countries. This rhythm
was also used for years as the playful music knock,"Shave and
a Haircut",..."Two Bits".
a slow ballad suitable for the bolero dance or similar music.
- or castanets. A pair of wooden instruments that are held in the
hand (between the thumb and forefinger) and are clicked together
- a bongo player
bongo drum or bongos - a pair of small drums that are connected
in the middle and played with your hands. Very common in Afro-Cuban
music and Latin percussion.
- long colorful tubes that produces various tones. Popular kid's
percussion instrument common in musical education. Many elementary
schools and junior high schools incorporate BoomWhackers into their
boom stand) - An arm that extends from the cymbal stand to allow
greater positioning around the drumset. Most drummers use it to
bring the cymbals in closer to them.
- the bossa nova rhythm accompanies the famous bossa nova dance.
It stems from the Samba and has it's origins in Brazil. Also applied
to the drumset.
as they relate to drumming have wire bristles that fan out and are
used mostly with traditional jazz drumming. Drummers that play brushes
utilize "snaps" and "sweeps" to create a unique
art form that we call "brush technique".
- one of the 40 drum rudiments. Often confused with the double stroke
roll, it is played by executing multiple bounces in each hand and
then speeding up. Other names for this roll are the "crush
roll", the "press roll" and the "multiple bounce
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- (or afuche) a Latin percussion instrument consisting of a round
cylinder on a handle. There are metal beads (actually a chain) that
surround the corrugated cylinder. It is held with one hand and rubbed
with the other to create various rhythms.
- a Latin percussion pattern often played with the right hand on
the side of a timbale. This rhythm can also be played on drumset.
castanets - or bones. A pair of wooden instruments that are
held in the hand (between the thumb and forefinger) and are clicked
together in rhythm.
cajon - a hollow wooden box that has the tone of a conga.
Non-tuneable as it has no drumhead. Origin - Latin America
- a medium tempo, Afro-Cuban rhythm, as heard in Tito Puento's "Oye
Como Va" song.
chimes - long metal tubes that are struck with a special
hammer. This percussion instrument is common in school bands and
orchestras as well as symphonies.
(or china cymbal / china crash) - also referred to as a "pang"
- your technique or rhythmic vocabulary. Ex. "That kid has
great chops on the drums!" Chops can refer to percussion
performance on drumsets, marching percussion or Latin drums.
clave (clave') - A rhythm made up of a 2 bar phrase played
as 2:3 clave (ex: 1 2,1 2 3) or 3:2 clave (ex: 1 2 3,1 2). Once
the song starts, the clave will not change. Latin American countries
often clap their hands to clave during the music.
- percussion instrument; a pair of cylindrical wooden sticks (usually
around an inch and half thick) that are clicked together to make
a high pitched sound marking clave in Latin music. Sometimes made
from synthetic material.
- or hi hat clutch. The drumset accessory that holds the top cymbal,
of the hi hat cymbals, in place.
4/4 time, indicating 4 beats to the measure with the quarter note
receiving the beat.
conga - or conga drum. A drum with African/Cuban origin that
is played with the hands. Shaped like a barrel, it sits on the floor
or on a stand and can be played sitting or standing. It has a head
on one side only. The conga is the "middle" drum of a
typical conga set of drums.
- one who plays the conga drums.
- (or bell)
- or "crash cymbal". A cymbal used for accentuation. A
drummer will use this cymbal to emphasize a certain beat or accent
beat one of the new measure. They generally come in sizes 15"
The cymbal played that's used for emphasizing a certain beat in
the song. This
cymbal has more sustain than a ride cymbals does.
- a copper/bronze disk struck with a drumstick to ride or emphasize
beats. With the hands. Two cymbals can also be played together such
as in a marching band or hi-hat cymbals on drumsets.
cuica - a Latin percussion instrument which sound resembles
a dog barking.
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bass - the use of two bass drums with a drum set. Double bass
drumming can also be played with a twin or double bass pedal and
just one bass drum.
pedal - a twin pedal that strikes both beaters on the same bass
drum. Most commonly on drumsets and with rock drummers.
double-stroke roll - one of the standard 40 drum rudiments.
The double stroke roll is played with 2 individual strokes in each
- the "main" pulse as it relates to the rest of the measure.
If you have 8 eighth notes in a bar of 4/4 time, beats 1, 2, 3 and
4 would be considered the downbeat. The "and" of 1, "and"
of 2, "and" of 3, and "and" of 4 would be the
- one of the 40 standard drum rudiments.
- a specially made hi hat clutch that allows the top cymbal
to drop when you hit a lever on the side of it. This drum accessory
is for use with double bass drumming.
- a "filler" or phrase to be played between different
sections of a song. A drum fill can be as simple as a couple of
tom tom hits or a blistering, machine gun-like burst of notes. Drum
fills can range from 1 beat to 8 measures (or more) in length.
- the covering or membrane that stretches over the drum to produce
it's sound. Drumheads are made of animal skin and synthetic plastics.
- a section comprised of only drums and percussion.
- a drum machine
is an electronic instrument that contains drum sounds and sometimes
other musical instruments and sounds. It is programmed to play rhythm
patterns and aids musicians in time keeping and music production.
Drummers are able to use drum machines to figure out beats and patterns
and to practice along with them.
- one who plays the drums (duh)
- consisting of generally 4 to 5 drums or more. 5 piece drumsets
are most common but some play smaller drumkits and a few player
drumsets with up to as many as 20 drums.
- a rhythmic break in the song where the drummer gets to shine.
- sticks used to play a drum or set of drums. Popular models for
drumset are ProMark, Vic Firth, and Vater. There are also numerous
- tabs for drumming. A short hand style of writing drum music. Tablature.
- one who sets up and maintains a drum set (or set up) for another
drummer. Usually famous drummers or those that play with name bands
have their own drum tech. A drum tech is usually very knowlegeable
about drums and can tune and tweak them to their maximum sound potential.
- a middle eastern drum commonly from countries such as India, Pakistan,
Morocco and Egypt. Shaped similar to a djembe drum. Usually made
of metal or ceramic. Only 1 drumhead on top.
- playing soft to loud on the drums.
drums - the opposite of electronic drums. Drums that are synthesized.
They work off of electricity and use a sound source or brain module.
Common electronic drums companies are Pintech, Roland and Hart Dynamics.
- when a company (usually a manufacturer) endorses an individual
through free or discounted merchandise and/or advertising.
fatback - a thick 2 and 4, slightly behind the beat backbeat
with a lot of soul. Common in funk and blues drumming.
- short for drumfill. See drumfill.
- a pair of tiny cymbals mounted on the hand and played by striking
together. Common in belly dancing and mid-Eastern music.
- one of the oldest rudiments and part of the original 13 created
by N.A.R.D. One soft ghosted note is played just before the main
note, creating a "flam" effect.
flam tap - a flam followed by one tap or stroke. One of the
40 drum rudiments
flam paradiddle - a paradiddle that starts each four note
grouping with a flam. One of the 40 drum rudiments emphasizing the
- the deepest tom (generally) on a standard drum set. It sits upright
on 3 legs. In the last 20 years drummers have also mounted their
floor toms on cymbal stands.
- the accessory that depresses the bass drum or hi-hat cymbals.
- play loud
- play the drums "very loud"
time (or 4/4 time) - time signature indicating 4 beats to the
measure where the quarter note receives the beat.
frame drums - drums that consist of a head stretched over
a narrow framed skeleton. Simple in design but capable of many types
or ghost stroke - a note that is played extremely quiet. Similar
to a grace note.
- an instrument that contains tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular
frame. The glockenspiel is played with mallets.
- an Afro Cuban rhythm stemming from the rhumba.
a hollowed out gourd that is corrugated and played with a stiff
metal rod. It creates a "zip" type of sound often heard
in Latin music.
a large suspended cymbal that is struck with a large felt mallet.
It has it's roots in the orient.
- a term used to describe the way a beat feels when it not only
has a steady tempo, but "feels" incredibly good within
the music. Can be applied to any style of music whether playing
percussion or drumset.
your friends about our drum glossary. Tons of terms and definitions
bells - tuned bells that are held in the hand and sounded by
- drums played with the hands such as congas, bongos, djembes, etc.
- the two cymbals on a stand that open and close together. They
are operated by the foot. Generally used on the left side of a drumset
(right handed drummers).
- the device that keeps the top hi hat cymbal attached to the rod.
- The round metal or wooden disc that holds the drumhead onto the
drum. Lug casings are then fastened to hold the hoop in place.
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drums - or tympani. A very large drum made of copper or brass.
Most often used in orchestras and symphonies. This drum has a foot
pedal that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal
is depressed, the kettle drum makes a unique, "boing"
type of sound.
- another word for "bass drum". This is the largest drum
on a typical drumset and it sits on the floor.
drums - hand drums of Latin American and/or Afro-Cuban culture.
- drum lick or short drum fill. A lick can also be a quick "riff"
or fancy beat.
- linear drumming refers to beats or fills that incorporating stickings
not usually played together.
- slit drum.
- a type of drumstick used to strike a percussion instrument; particularly
a bell instrument such as the marimba or xylophone.
- ("I play mallets") referring to those instruments played
with mallets such as the marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, or steel
- see mallets
- a hollowed out gourd on a stick (rattle). Usually filled with
seeds or pebbles. Another simply designed instrument but capable
of many different types of sounds through various skillful techniques
used by the drummer.
- an upbeat Afro-Cuban rhythm.
- a metronome
is a clicking electronic device that sets tempo for a rhythm or
song. It measures time in BPM (beats per minute). A popular "middle
of the road" metronome setting is, quarter note = 120 bpm.
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- short for microphone / drum mics, microphones for micing drums
- an instrument that consists of a large frame holding wooden resonator
bars. This musical instrument is played with mallets.
- a rhythm from Africa commonly used in Afro-Cuban music. Legend
Steve Gadd popularized this rhythm in the 80's as he mixed it with
pop music - Paul Simon's "Late in the Evening".
- National Association of Rudimental Drummers. This was the
rudimental body prior to Percussive Arts Society (PAS).
- referring to music notes on sheet music
- elongated drums with heads on the playing side only. 8 drums
- similar to "upbeat". The beats that are not stressed.
This word is also used to describe a musician that may play out
- referring to an odd or uneven time signature (not 4/4), such as
7/4 or 5/8.
bells - bells consisting of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular
frame and played with a mallet.
- a musical rhythm or phrase that is repeated over and over again.
- tambourine; a round hoop (usually wooden) with metal discs or
jingles attached. Common in Afro-Cuban and Brazillian music.
- pang cymbal - See "china cymbal"
- (steel drums) large oil drums that have had the tops cut off and
hammered into a tuned percussion instrument. Common in the Caribbean
Islands. Played with mallets.
- or single paradiddle. Considered one of the more important of
the 40 drum rudiments. Played RLRR, LRLL with accents on the first
beat of each group.
Percussive Arts Society. The governing body over all things drumming.
They hold a popular annual convention once a year called PASIC (Percussive
Arts Society International Convention).
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generator - an electronic or computerized device or program
that generates a multitude of rhythms.
clef - the staff commonly used in percussion (as opposed to
bass clef) where it is not necessary to notate pitched instruments.
instrument - An instrument that is struck with your hands or
an object such as a drumstick or mallet. Examples include a drum,
cymbal, tambourine, bell, triangle, etc.
- a term popularized in drumming over the last 10 years. It refers
to beat displacement where all beats will move forward say, one
eighth note. This method will create numerous variations of rhythmic
- how drum beats are distributed by the player around the drums
in context to the song or drum solo.
dynamic marking meaning "soft"
- very soft
- more than one rhythm or time signature being played at the same
time, such as 3 against 2.
- the consistent "heartbeat" of a rhythm.
- punk drumming
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time - 4/4 time or time signature equaling 4 beats to a measure.
Quad meaning "4".
- consisting of 4 drums and often played in marching band or drumline.
- consisting of 5 drums and played in marching band or drumline.
(or quinto) - The smallest conga drum.
tom - toms mounted to a drumset.
- a long hollowed out piece of wood that is filled with beads or
pebbles. When turned upside down, it makes the sound of rain falling.
This instrument is often used in band and orchestra for special
- the manipulation of strong and weak beats, creating a flowing
and/or syncopated pulse.
cymbal) - the primary cymbal that you "ride" much
of the time while playing a standard beat. It is usually larger
than the rest at around 18" to 22".
(or R.I.M. System) - a device that allows for isolation mounting.
It will isolate the toms or drums and allow for greater sustain
and natural tone from the drum.
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- hitting the snare head and the snare drum rim at the same time.
The effect is a louder, punchier sound or backbeat.
- a mounted, shell-less drum that changes pitch when rotated.
- drum roll. Rolls (single stroke, double stroke, 5 stroke, etc.)
that help make up the 40 drum rudiments.
- rudimentary beats used to create independence between the two
hands (and feet) in drumming. These drum beats can then be manipulated
around the drumset. There are currently 40
drum rudiments (or standardized drum rudiments).
solo (or rudimental solo) - a solo consisting of numerous drum
rudiments and often utilized in drum competitions by drumlines.
- a single stroke with one hand preceded by two ghosted strokes
in the opposite hand.
A single stroke with one hand accompanied by two lighter strokes
with the opposite hand just preceding it. Notated like a grace note,
except the grace note is two sixteenth notes instead of an eighth
note. One of the thirteen original rudiments.
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- generic musical term describing a wide range of Latin American
music and dancing. Salsa emerged on the New York club scene in the
early 70's and revolves around a high-energy dance style of music.
Salsa drumming would consist of the many Latin rhythms made up of
traditional Latin clave.
drumming - Irish style drumming involving side drums or deep
- any percussion instrument that can be shaken. Usually a hollowed
out container filled with beads or pebbles.
- a large hollow gourd surrounded by woven beads. Common in Afro-Cuban
- snare used in Irish drumming.
roll - one of the most important of the 40 drum rudiments (R
L R L, R L R L), as it helps to make up all the others.
- a hollowed out log or slab of wood cut on top in a manner in which
it can be played melodically with mallets.
- one of the more common drums in marching bands and drumlines and
the primary drum of a drumset. The "snares" are the wires
on the bottom of the drum that give it that "buzz" sound.
Standard size is usually 14" diameter by 5 1/2" in depth
but can vary greatly.
- the long wiggly shaped wires stretched across the bottom of a
snare drum. These wires create a preferred buzz sound.
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- drum solo
splash cymbal) - a quick sounding cymbal with short sustain. Small
in diameter generally from 6" to 14". Most typically 6"
- (pans) large oil drums that have had the tops cut off and hammered
into a tuned percussion instrument. Common in the Caribbean Islands.
Played with mallets.
- twirling the drumsticks for showmanship on stage.
- in drumming it refers to the swing cymbal rhythm or what the old
masters would call "spang-a-lang". This rhythm and variations
of it is the driving force behind swing (jazz) music.
- when a beat or a musical phrase is syncopated.
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- short for tablature (see drum tabs)
- the speed of the rhythm or song.
- a hollowed out frame drum. It consists of a drumhead on one side.
- a set of tuned wood blocks played with mallets or drumsticks.
- another one of the many percussion instruments used for special
effects. It is a metal bar actually bent in the shape of a triangle
and struck with a small metal mallet.
- The PIT, as it's called, is the non-marching section of the band
where students play percussion instruments such as the marimba,
the triangle, tambourine, sleigh bells, finger cymbals and timpani.
There are also sometimes extra snare drums, bass drums and even
drumsets in this area of the field.
- see tympani
tom-tom (or tom) - a single drum. Also, mounted drums on
a drumset, most commonly played with drum fills.
- a beat that resembles a train sound. It is played with consecutive
16th notes on the snare drum and accentuated to sound like a train.
Common in country music but also used in rock and pop.
- a common polyrhythm that uses groups of 3 per beat. These can
be subdivided many different ways. Ex. quarter note triplets, 8th
note triplets, etc.
- The result of transcribing a piece of music.
tumba (or tumbadora) - the largest of the typical 3 conga
- (kettle drums) A very large drum made of copper or brass. Most
often used in orchestras and symphonies. This drum has a foot pedal
that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal is depressed,
the kettle drum makes a unique, "boing" type of sound.
drums - an oblong drum made of clay. It has a hole on top that
resonates the sound when the drum is struck with a hand.
- or vibraphone. Similar to a xylophone but having metal bars and
resonators that are driven by a motor. This motor helps to create
vibrato sound. Played with mallets.
(or vibes) - Similar to a xylophone but having metal bars and resonators
that are driven by a motor. This motor helps to create vibrato sound.
Played with mallets.
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world drumming - drumming that incorporates rhythms from around
the world, utilizing world instruments originating from their prospective
countries. Examples would be Afro-Cuban rhythms, Indian rhythms,
Caribbean rhythms and so on.
- A set of hi hats positioned in a remote place on the drumset.
xylophone - or bells. A musical instrument consisting of
metal or wooden bars that are tuned and played with mallets. Common
in musical symphonies and orchestras.
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(or "O" ring) - A thin "donut" shaped ring made
out of plastic. They are placed around the perimeter of the drums
to control overtones or unwanted resonance.