How to Read Drum Notation – Part 4 – Note Length

Remember how some notes have stems and tails?

They are two of the ways several ways we can determine how long a note lasts. This is VERY important stuff! Determining how long a note lasts, then tells us where the next note will be, which is how we construct RHYTHMS!

So now let’s learn all of the main types of notes.

SEMI-BREVE (Whole Note)

The Semi-Breve is the longest note. It lasts for 4 counts, or one full bar. This means that the next note will not occur until the first count of the next bar. A semi-breve is a hollow note with no stem.

MINUM (Half Note)

A Minum lasts for 2 counts. If you put a minum on the first count of a 4/4 bar, the next note will be on the third count. A minum is a hollow note with a stem.

CROTCHET (Quarter Note)

A Crotchet lasts for 1 count. If you put crotchet on the first count of a 4/4 bar, the next note will be on the second count. A Crotchet is a solid note with a stem.

QUAVER (Eighth Note)

A Quaver lasts for half a count. If you put a quaver on the first count of a 4/4 bar, the next note will be on the ‘and’ of ‘one.’ A quaver is a solid note with a stem and a tale. When you have two or four quavers in a row, you usually join tales like this:

SEMI-QUAVER (Sixteenth Note)

A Semi-Quaver lasts for a quarter of a count. The way we count semi-quavers is ‘1-E-AND-A-2-E-AND-A-3-E-AND-A-4-E-AND-A.’ So if you put a semi-quaver on the first count of a 4/4 bar, the next note will be on the ‘E’ of ‘one.’ A semi-quaver is a solid note with a stem and two tales. When you have two or four semi-quavers in a row, you usually join the tales like this:

In the next lesson we will begin to learn about rests!