Percussion notation


Audio: percussion notation (0:04)

Percussion notation
Figure: percussion notation

percussion notation plays a rhythm and the percussion notation figure shows the score.

Percussion notation displays visual information about rhythm.

There is no standard for percussion notation. The guide follows the nearest thing there is to a standard which is the Guide to Standardized Drumset Notation authored by Norman Weinberg and published by the Percussive Arts Society (PAS).

A neutral clef sign at the beginning of the score signifies that the notation is percussion notation.

A note in percussion notation does not represent a pitched sound, it represents a beat. The shape of the note head indicates the type of percussion instrument.

The vertical placement of a beat on a staff represents approximate pitch and not exact pitch. This is to be expected because percussion is unpitched sound. There is a rough sort of correlation: low-pitched percussion is at the bottom of the clef, mid-pitched percussion is in the middle, and high-pitched percussion is at the top. For example, a bass drum is placed lower on the staff than a snare drum, and both are lower than a hihat.

Horizontal placement of a beat on a staff represents time. Specifically, it notates when a percussion instrument is played. It does not usually indicate the duration of the beat, although some scores do, because it is assumed that the percussion sound lasts as long as necessary until the sound dies out naturally or the instrument is hit again.

A single staff is big enough to notate up to a dozen or so percussion instruments.