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Cryptic Excretions
Attorney at Law
Joined: 01/31/04
Posts: 3,055
Cryptic Excretions
Attorney at Law
Joined: 01/31/04
Posts: 3,055
05/11/2005 5:21 pm
Hoo boy, where to start on that one. You'd be surprised at how many musicians can't read sheet notation. And there really isn't anything wrong with that either. However, as many musicians as there are out there, to think that they all write the same way is a big assumption. Also, writing doesn't necessarily mean that you're literally writing it out on paper. Thus composing tends to be a more politically correct term. Though it helps to do write it out so you can get a visual, but I find pen and paper to be a real pain. I also have poor hand writing and end up shooting for the gist of things and later forget what I initially meant so I write my stuff on my computer and my guitar/bass/insert instrument I'm using. Learning to write a song is as much of a skill as learning to play a song. To figure out how you should write songs is a whole different game. Find out what it is that you like to do with the guitar first and then find the demands that come with that. Some genres like rock and metal, which are very pattern based, really don't call much for anything beyond standard tabs. However, classical and jazz will give a demand for knowing sheet music. I would never say it's a bad thing to know sheet music though, I'm still getting warmed up to it. I can read the stuff, just not by without thinking about it first. Now, since you are as bold as to mention drums in writing music (good for you by the way, I neglected percussion and rhythm for way too long) get a metronome or a drum machine or something (assuming you don't) or some way of applying drums to your music, it will help make things work so much better, faster and easier. Not to mention it will help your sense of rhythm which is a prize taken for granted by many who do have it.

Now, onto the drums. Good ol' drums.
Ok, so we've got a drum set and we're playing that drum set in the time signature 4/4 for two reasons, 1) it's really common, 2) it's a good starting point. Here's a 4/4 beat.

All the X's are hi-hats counting the 1/8 notes and the S's and O's represent the snares and kick drums alternating the 1/4 notes. Notice the second two O's and how there are two of them unlike the first one. These are not both 1/4 notes, but each a 1/8 note next to each other. And what do you get when you add two 1/8 notes together? 2/8 or in a simplified version 1/4 note.
Each X is merely halved versions of the S's and O's.

Here's a variation of a 4/4 beat


Now, despite the different positions and number of symbols, this is counting the same time signature, the X's are just counting 1/16 notes and the the S's and O's are doing 1/8 notes now. But when you total all those 1/8 notes up you equal 4/4.

Now, just for kicks, let's try a different time signature. I'm thinking 9/8 notes.


Now, the X's are counting the main notation that the signature is in. That being 1/8 notes and the other drums are basically just multiplied versions of those 1/8 notes.

If you print this out you've got some good On-the-toilet reading material. Sorry for being lengthy and if any of it makes no sense just speak up.
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