This is an ever growing glossary especially for drummers wanting to learn more about typical drum terms and drum lingo. Don’t see one? Let me know!
You can also use this in conjunction with the 3D Drumming System – The Ultimate Drummer’s Workbook/Encyclopedia
Playing patterns or rhythms with two limbs at the same time.
Playing patterns or rhythms with three limbs at the same time.
Playing patterns or rhythms with four limbs at the same time.
A section or subsection which is four bars long.
12-bar form in the style of Blues.
Music originally from Cuba. Afro is added because of the African (rhythmical) influence on the Hispanic (melody and harmony) music. There are many, many styles and subgenres stemming from Afro-Cuban. Most of these revolve around the Clave, or more accurately, one of the Clave Rhythms.
An Anacrusis or Pickup Bar is a short intro to a song or section. Many Motown songs start out this way for instance.
Another way to describe beats 2 and 4. As opposites of beats 1 and 3 they represent the back of the beat.
Another word for “Measure”. A 12-bar Blues is a twelve measures long musical form often used in Blues.
Bossa Nova or Bossa
Brazilian style of music revolving around a bass pattern playing 1..&3..& or 1..t2..t in 16th notes. The Bossa Nova tempo ranges roughly from 65 – 90 bpm.
China Splash (Cymbal)
The small version of a Chinese/China (Type) Cymbal. Sizes range from 8″ – 12″
Chinese or China Type (Cymbal)
A trashy sounding effect cymbal most commonly used to play accents in unison with the snare on. Sizes range from 16″ – 26″
Chokes or Cymbal Chokes
Silencing a cymbal after a hit by grabbing it with a hand so it stops ringing.
Spanish word for “Key”. This is the rhythmical key to unlock many Afro-Cuban rhythms with. They can be in 3-2 meaning there are three notes in the first bar and two in the second, or 2-3 meaning the opposite. The most well known are:
- 6/8 Clave
- 3-2: 1.3..6.2.4.. (1.let..let.trip.2.. or 1.m..m.n.2..)
- 2-3: .2.4..1.3..6 (.trip.2..1.let..let or .n.2..1.m..m)
- Son Clave
- 3-2: 1..&..4…2.3… (1..e..&…&.2… or 1..t..n…n.2…)
- 2-3: ..2.3…1..&..4. (..&.2…1..e..&. or ..n.2…1..t..n.)
- Rumba Clave
- 3-2: 1..&…&..2.3… (1..e…e..&.2… or 1..t…t..n.2…)
- 2-3: ..2.3…1..&…& (..&.2…1..e…e or ..n.2…1..t…t)
Cover song or Cover
A song played by someone other than the original artist.
An effect cymbal most commonly used to play accents on. Sizes range from 13″ – 20″
Cross Stick has become a widely misused term for one of the following:
- Cross Over where one arm/hand/stick crosses over the other.
- Stick on stick (Stick Click) making the woody sound
- Rimclick where you make a woodblock kind of sound with the stick on the rim of the snare
I think the second one should be the only called a Cross Stick, if that, because Stick Click actually describes the sound much more accurate.
A fancy term for changing the starting point (displacement) without changing the order of the pattern. Every pattern has as many starting points as it has notes. Imagine the pattern laying on top of a cycle of notes which has a certain time feel. Now the pattern can be displaced forwards or backwards by one note at a time without changing its internal order of notes until it’s back on its original position.
Subgenre of Prog(ressive) Metal with a strong emphasis on Cross Rhythms and longer a-symmetrical phrases as played by Meshuggah f.i.. The name is a phonetic one (an onomatopoeia) as the sound of picking the muted lowest string of a distorted guitar could be described as “Djent”.
Another way to name beat 1.
Terminology specifically used in drumming and among drummers. Also called “drum lingo” or “drum slang”.
Can be used to refer to a groove, or to musical sensitivity. The right feel: The musically correct way of playing.
Flanging the Hi Hat
Making the two hi hat cymbals hit each other with the Left Foot in such a way they produce a ringing sound. A.k.a. “Splashing the Hi Hat”. Sometimes this is referred to as “Kicking the Hi Hat”.
Style of music invented in the mid sixties by James Brown and his band with the legendary drummers Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield.
Style of music blending elements of jazz, rock and all sorts of latin music.
Rhythm with feel. To be in the groove means playing a rhythm with the right musical feeling.
A Ghost Note or Ghost Stroke is a soft note played in between louder notes. These are played mostly but not exclusively on the snare drum.
Symbol used to indicate an increase of volume (crescendo) or a decrease in volume (decrescendo). The symbol looks like a hairpin, hence the name.
Half Time (Shuffle)
(Shuffle) groove where the backbeat (usually played on the snare) is on beat 3 instead of 2 and 4. This way the tempo seems half as high, hence the term.
Hand to hand (pattern)
A pattern (sticking) which changes the hand it starts on automatically. F.i. a Single Paradiddle starts with Rlrr and then it starts on the other hand Lrll. This makes it a hand to hand pattern whereas a Double Stroke Roll (RRLL or LLRR) will not start on the other hand by itself.
See Layered Coordination.
The two cymbals which can be opened and closed with the foot by pressing the hi hat pedal. The hi hat can also be played with the foot to get a short, staccato chick sound. This is called a “stepped hi hat”. The hi hat can also be played by the foot in a way that it produces a long note. This is called “flanging the hi hat” or “splashing the hi hat”.
Newly formed rudiment comprised of two or more existing rudiments or elements of these rudiments.
Creating on the spot.
Inverted Doubles/Inverted Double Stroke Roll
The Inverted Double Stroke Roll starts on RLLR or LRRL as opposed to a (Regular) Double Stroke Roll a.k.a. Regular Doubles which is RRLL or LLRR.
Type of coordination needed to execute patterns or rhythms consisting of two or more unique patterns or rhythms. The patterns or rhythms involved may be symmetrical or a-symmetrical. The latter would be Cross Rhythms or Polyrhythms depending on how they’re used. Layered coordination is also known as Harmonic Coordination.
Long sound. The opposite of “staccato”.
Type of coordination needed to execute one pattern or rhythm with more than one limb without notes being played by more than one limb. Usually the term is used when three or four limbs play the pattern or rhythm. Linear Coordination is also known as Melodic Coordination.
Typical phrases or exprtessions used in a specific trade or profession. A.k.a. “slang”. So Drum Lingo is a collection of phrases used typically in druming and rhythm as common knowledge.
Musical lingo for sentence, string of notes, or phrase. We as drummers usually play licks as a fill or in solos but they can be used as grooves as well.
See Linear Coordination.
Mini China (Cymbal)
Smaller version (but bigger than a Splash 8″ – 12″) of a Chinese/China (Type) Cymbal. Sizes range from 13″ – 14″
A recurring pattern. This can be played by one limb, 2 limbs or 3 limbs. The remaining limb(s) play(s) the melody. We therefore often encounter Ostinato/Melody exercises.
The Percussive Arts Society (P.A.S.) is a non-profit, music service organization founded in 1961. Their mission is inspire, educate and support percussionists and drummers worldwide. Among other things they’re responsible for creating the lst of 40 Rudiments which replaced the classic list of 26 rudiments. More info can be found on their website http://www.pas.org/
(Rearranging) the order of notes within a specific combination of notes. Permutation is used to describe both the order and the act of rearranging the order.
A Pickup Bar or Anacrusis is a short intro to a song or section. Many Motown songs start out this way for instance.
One or more notes leading into a new phrase, riff, theme, or simply another note.
Playing with a good time feel. Playing in the pocket means the groove is feeling exactly as it should. You own it.
A 4-note linear Double Bass drum pattern consisting of two hands and two feet alternating. From a Right Handed perspective this would be: RH-LH-RF-LF. I like to refer to this as 4-way Singles ort a 4-Way Single Stroke Roll. If you would like to know more about Double Bass Drum Playing go to the Premium Double Bass Course.
Caribean Musical Style from Jamaica. Rhythmically there are two elements which can be considered a typical ostinato of a Reggae groove. 1. The hihat 8th note upbeats 2. The Bass Drum back beat on 2 and 4. The left hand typically plays rimclicks as a melody on top of the ostinato.
Regular Doubles/(Regular) Double Stroke Roll
The normal Double Stroke Roll starting on RRLL or LLRR as opposed to a Inverted Double Stroke Roll a.k.a. Inverted Doubles which is RLLR or LRRL.
A cymbal most commonly used to play grooves on. This cymbal has a more ringing quality to it than a hi hat. In Jazz for instance the ride is the most important instrument in a drummer’s setup. This is what defines the drummer’s sound the most in Jazz (the “ding..ding.gahding..ding..gading..” (ride) swing pattern. Sizes range from 18″ – 24″
A Rimclick is when you lay down the stick on the snare to make a woodblock kind of sound with the stick on the rim of the snare. Sometimes referred to as Cross Stick or even Sidestick.
A Rudiment is an elementary part. In (snare) drumming this means a basic ‘word’. Initially rudiments were seen as letters so it was probably no coincidence that there have long been twenty six official rudiments. In recent years the Percussive Arts Society (P.A.S.) certified another fourteen. So now the official amount of P.A.S certified rudiments for snare drumming comes to forty. Click here for a more complete overview of rudiments.
Brazilian style of music revolving around a bass pattern playing 1..&3..& or 1..t2..t in 16th notes. The Samba tempo ranges roughly from 95 – 130 bpm.
A subdivision of seven notes per pulse, usually per quarter note.
A subdivision of six notes per pulse, usually per quarter note, a.k.a. 16th note triplets
Single Stroke Roll
The Single Stroke roll or simply called “singles” is a rudiment which consists of alternating strokes.
Small effect cymbal, usually ranging from 6″ to 12″.
Splashing the Hi Hat
Making the two hi hat cymbals hit each other with the Left Foot in such a way they produce a ringing sound. A.k.a. “Flanging the Hi Hat”. Sometimes this is referred to as “Kicking the Hi Hat”.
Short sound. The opposite of “legato”.
The five horizontal lines we use to notate music in. A.k.a. Stave.
A song which is considered to be a classic. The musical implication is that everyone should know it.
The five horizontal lines we use to notate music in. A.k.a. Staff.
The number of notes in which a note is divided. Usually the number of notes per quarter note.
Tempo. Playing time also means playing a standard groove to keep time.
The way a groove feels or is felt.
Literally keeping tempo. A more musical translation would be to keep the tempo feeling good.
Two or more notes played at the same time. These are also called Flat Flams.
The Upbeat is traditionally the beat right before beat 1. We can also use them more accurately when combined note value or subdivision. F.i. 8th note upbeats would be every 2nd 8th note. (In 4/4 8th notes .&.&&.& or .N.N.N.N)
Short for Auxiliary hi hat, sometimes also referred to as a remote hat. A closed hi hat used as a 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc.
A snare considered to be one of the holy grails.