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Drumming Definitions

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A
accent

Emphasis placed on a particular note that gives it more stress than the others.

acoustic drums - drums that are void of electronic components. Usually made of wood or synthetic material only. And electronic drums are void of acoustic drums.

axatse - Similar to a shekere but smaller. Made from a gourd with beads woven around the hollow percussion instrument.

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B
backbeat - 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.

ball joint - a ball joint, or ball and socket joint, is a mechanism that allows a tom tom arm or cymbal arm to rotate in practically 360 degrees. It is popular on many drumsets and drum hardware accessories. Yamaha drums was one of the first drum companies to popularize this mount.

basket - snare drum basket. The metal cradle that holds the snare drum.

bass drum (kick drum) - the lowest pitched drum in a marching band or with a drumset. As it refers to a drumset, it is also called a kick drum because it is 'kicked' with your foot via a foot pedal. A marching bass drum is usually mounted and worn to be played while marching and struck from either side with the hands using a large felt mallet beater. The drumset bass drum or kick sits on the floor with the head facing toward you. As a type of tom-tom, the bass drum can also be tuned but unlike a tom tom drum which usually requires a drum key, most kick drums have T-shaped rods that can be tuned by simply turning those rods.

bass drum beater - see "beater"

bass drum pedal - pedal used to play the bass drum

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 neck.

batter head - typically referring to a drumhead that has a coated surface. It's also a term referring to the "playing" side of the drum.

bearing edge - 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.

beat displacement - 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.

beater - a drumstick (usually with a mallet-type head) that beats a drum. Also, the rod and ball mechanism on a bass drum foot pedal is called a beater. It "beats" the bass drum.

beguine - music incorporating a bolero rhythm.

bell (of the cymbal) - the raised center of the cymbal, usually about 4" or so in diameter. This part of the cymbal creates a sharper, more defined cutting sound. Drummers often use it to play accentuated passages.

bells - an instrument that consists of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular frame such as the glockenspiel, xylophone or marimba.

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blast beats - blast beats are alternating single-stroke rolls broken up between the snare drum and the bass drum. The hand that plays the ride cymbal generally plays in unison with the bass drum. Blast beats are most often heard in heavy metal drumming and extreme drumming.

bodhran (bodhrán) - an Irish drum covered with goatskin. Phonetically pronounced
"bough-rawn".

bo-diddley 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. The Bo Diddley rhythm was also used for years as the playful music knock, "Shave and a Haircut",..."Two Bits".

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bolero rhythm - a slow ballad suitable for the bolero dance or similar music.

bones - or castanets. A pair of wooden instruments that are held in the hand (between the thumb and forefinger) and are clicked together in rhythm.

bongocero - a bongo player

bongo drums 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.

BoomWhackers - 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 music curriculum.

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boom (or 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.

bossa nova - the bossa nova rhythm accompanies the famous bossa nova dance. It stems from the Samba and has it's origins in Brazil.

bougarabou drum - A cone shaped drum similar to the djembe drum. Native to West Africa.

brekete - Originating from Ghana, the brekete drum is shaped like a cylinder and tuned by roper like a djembe. It creates a bass sound and can be played with the hand or a stick.

brushes - brushes 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".

buzz roll - 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 stroke".

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C
cabasa - (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.

cascara - 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

cha-cha - a medium tempo, Afro-Cuban rhythm, as heard in Tito Puento's "Oye Como Va" song.

chimes - a row of small, thin tubular bells that are brushed with the hand or gently with a drumstick or mallet. Chimes are often used in a soft ballad. See also "Tubular Bells".

china (or china cymbal / china crash) - also referred to as a "pang" cymbal. The china cymbal creates a gong-like sound or as some would refer to as a "trashy" type of sound.

chops - your technique or rhythmic vocabulary. Ex. "That kid has great chops on the 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.

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claves - 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.

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clutch - or hi hat clutch. The drumset accessory that holds the top cymbal, of the hi hat cymbals, in place on the rod.

common time: 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.

conguero - one who plays the conga drums.

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cowbell - (or bell) a percussion instrument often used in latin music. Over the last number of years it is used more often in pop music to color the music. You'll often hear the cowbell played with strict quarter notes to lay a rhythmic foundation for the song. The cowbell gets its name from use with a cow. Yep, that's right. It was originally used around the cow's neck so that the owners could keep track of them. The cowbell comes in many different sizes and tones.

crash - 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" to 18"

crash cymbal
The cymbal played that's used for emphasizing a certain beat in the song. This cymbal has more sustain than a ride cymbals does.
crotales

cymbal - a copper/bronze (or variation of metal alloy) disk struck with a drumstick to ride or emphasize beats with the hands. Cymbals add texture to the music. They can be crashed (crash cymbal) or ridden during a beat (ride cymbal). Two cymbals can also be played together such as in a marching band or hi-hat cymbals. Of recent, manufacturers are making cymbals with holes in them or with 8 sides (octagon cymbal) for varying effects.

cymbal stacker - a piece of drum hardware that allows a cymbal to be stacked on top of another cymbal.

cuica - a Latin percussion instrument which sound resembles a dog barking.

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D
die cast - die cast refers to a molding type. It is a cast mold made out of metal.

djembe drum - Originating from West Africa, this goblet shaped drum is most often rope-tensioned and had become one of the more common percussion instruments in the western hemisphere over recent years.

djun djun - a bass sounding drum originating from West Africa. It is rope tensioned like a djembe and played with a stick.

double bass - the use of two bass drums with a drum set. Double bass drumming can also be played with a twin pedal or double bass pedal and just one bass drum. Visit Drums Database to learn some double bass beats.

double bass pedal - a twin pedal that strikes both beaters on the same bass drum.

double braced hardware - "double braced" is a term that is used with regard to drum hardware like snare stands, cymbal stands, and so forth. A double braced cymbal stand will have two supporting metal supports rather than just one.

double-stroke roll - one of the standard 40 drum rudiments. The double stroke roll is played with 2 individual strokes in each hand.

downbeat - 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 upbeat.

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drag - one of the 40 standard drum rudiments.

drop clutch - 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.

drum - a hollow cylindrical shell of any size that has a head stretched over one or both ends and is beaten with the hands or a stick. There are also electronic drums where no shell is needed, just a triggering pad. When struck, it triggers synthesized sounds of all types.

drum brain - (or drum module) the central electronic guts or "brain" of a standard electronic drumset. This brain houses the sound sources and controls drum sensitivity, tempo, drum beats, drum patterns, and songs.

drum fill - 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.

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drumhead - the covering or membrane that stretches over the drum to produce it's sound. Drumheads are made of animal skin and synthetic plastics.

drum key - a small "T" shaped wrench (usually metal, although sometimes plastic), that tightens or loosens the drum.

drum lessons - find drum lessons and expert instruction online. Free drum lessons are available as are numerous drum lessons taught by experienced, professional drummers.

drumline - a section comprised of only drums and percussion.

drummer - a drummer is one who plays the drum or drums (duh).


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drum rack - or "rack" - a large metal frame that surrounds the drumset and holds cymbal stands, tom attachments, and percussion accessories. This setup allows for greater memory lock and is very practical. The downside is that it is heavy and usually bulky.

drum set - a set of drums consisting of generally 4 to 5 drums or more. 5 piece drumsets are most common but it often depends on the drummer's preference and/or the style of the music being played. For example, combo jazz drummers generally play a small 3 or 4 piece drumset. Drummers play the drumset (or drum kit) sitting down on a drum seat (or throne). A drumset comprises more than just the drums. It can also include timbales, cowbells, wood blocks, chimes or any number of percussion instruments. The number used when referring to a drumset (for example: 5 piece drumset), refers to the drums themselves, not the individual parts. So, on a 5 piece drumset, you wil have only 5 drums but you could have as many as 20 different pieces or parts to the drumset. In the earlier days of drumming, the drumset was called a trapset. See more on drum history. Popular brands of drumsets over the years have been Ludwig, Slingerland, Pearl, DW (Drum Workshop), Tama, Mapex, Yamaha, Gretsch and Sonor.

drum solo - a rhythmic break in the song where the drummer gets to shine. Ala "Wipeout".

drumsticks - a pair of sticks used to play a drum or set of drums. Popular models of drumsticks for drumset are ProMark, Vic Firth, and Vater. See drumsticks.org for more information.

drum tabs - tabs for drumming. A short hand style of writing drum music. Tablature.

drum tech - 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 knowledgeable about drums and can tune and tweak them to their maximum sound potential.

doumbek - 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.

dynamics - playing soft to loud on the drums.

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E
egg shakers - egg shakers are just that, shakers that look like an egg. Tiny seeds or plastic beads are placed inside a synthetic egg-shape shell and the shell is sealed. Shaking it produces a soft shaker sound. Egg shakers are commonly used by singers or other musicians which choose to contribute to the music through a simple/practical instrument. Egg shakers are also convenient to transport because of their small size.

e-drums - short for electronic drums.

electronic 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.

effects cymbal - a cymbal that is non-traditional in sound such as a gong cymbal, pang cymbal, or splash cymbal. Used sparingly for special accents and unique effects.

endorsement - when a company (usually a manufacturer) endorses an individual through free or discounted merchandise and/or advertising.

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ewe drums - the ewe drum is a hand drum that originates from West Africa. This drum, which can also be played with a stick, features peg tuning construction.

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F
fatback
- a thick 2 and 4, slightly behind the beat backbeat with a lot of soul. Common in funk and blues drumming.

fill - short for drumfill. See drumfill.

finger cymbals - a pair of tiny cymbals mounted on the hand and played by striking together. Common in belly dancing and mid-Eastern music.

flam - 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.


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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 flam.

floor tom - 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.

foot pedal - the accessory that depresses the bass drum or hi-hat cymbals.

foot plate - the part of a foot pedal or hi-hat pedal that the foot rests on.

forte - play loud

fortissimo - play the drums "very loud"

four-four 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 of sounds.

free floating - a term used to describe a drum that does not have hardware permanently mounted to it. The tensioning mechanism will not touch the shell of the drum.

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G
ghost note or ghost stroke - a note that is played extremely quiet. Similar to a grace note.

glockenspiel - an instrument that contains tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular frame. The glockenspiel is played with mallets.

guaguanco - an Afro Cuban rhythm stemming from the rhumba.

gourd - 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.

gong - a large suspended cymbal that is struck with a large felt mallet. It has it's roots in the orient.

groove - a term among other drum terms used to describe the way a beat feels when it not only has a steady tempo, but "feels" incredibly good within the music.

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H
hand bells - tuned bells that are held in the hand and sounded by shaking them.

hand drums - drums played with the hands such as congas, bongos, djembes, etc.

hats - short for hi-hats

heads - drumheads

hi-hat - 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).

hi-hat clutch - the device that keeps the top hi hat cymbal attached to the rod.

hoop - The round metal or wooden disc that holds the drumhead onto the drum. Lug casings are then fastened to hold the hoop in place. Drum hoops are made of metal or wood.

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I
I.S.S - or ISS - an isolation mounting system for tom toms. A bracket that holds the toms that is connected to the rim of the drum, not the shell of the drum. This allows the drum to resonate more freely. *See R.I.M.S.


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J
jembe drums - Originating from West Africa, this goblet shaped drum is most often rope-tensioned and had become one of the more common percussion instruments in the western hemisphere over recent years. Also spelled "djembe" with the d being silent.

K
kettle 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.

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kick drum - another word for "bass drum". This is the largest drum on a typical drumset and it sits on the floor.

kidi drum - similar to the conga drum but incorporates pegged tuning and the bottom of the drum is solid. It is also more commonly played with sticks.

kids drums - drums scaled smaller to fit children's hands and bodies and made to stricter safety standards. See drumbum.com to reference many different types of kids drums and drumsets.

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L
Latin drums - hand drums of Latin American and/or Afro-Cuban culture.

lick - drum lick or short drum fill. A lick can also be a quick "riff" or fancy beat.

linear drumming - linear drumming refers to beats or fills that incorporating stickings not usually played together.

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log drum - or slit drum. Part of the idiophone family in that it creates melody and is played with beaters. It is also sometimes called a tongue drum in that the extended carved woods on the top look similar to tongues. This instrument, in the old days, was carved from hollowed-out trees.

lugs - the tension rods (or screws) that hold the hoop and drumhead onto the drum. Some refer to the lugs as the actual metal encasement that the tension rods screw into.

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M
mallet - a type of drumstick used to strike a percussion instrument; particularly a bell instrument such as the marimba or xylophone.

mallets - ("I play mallets") referring to those instruments played with mallets such as the marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, or steel drum.

mallet instruments - see mallets

maracas - 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.

merengue - an upbeat Afro-Cuban rhythm.

metronome - 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.

mics - short for microphone / drum mics, microphones for micing drums

marimba - an instrument that consists of a large frame holding wooden resonator bars. This musical instrument is played with mallets.

Moeller method - a controversial hand technique for drums that allows greater fluidity through the whipping of the wrist combined with rebound strokes. Developed by Sanford Moeller and popularized by renowned drummer and educator, Jim Chapin.

mozambique - 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".

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N
N.A.R.D. - National Association of Rudimental Drummers. This was the rudimental body prior to Percussive Arts Society (PAS).

notation - referring to music notes on sheet music

O
octobans - elongated drums with heads on the playing side only. 8 drums per set.

off beat - similar to "upbeat". The beats that are not stressed. This word is also used to describe a musician that may play out of time.

odd time - referring to an odd or uneven time signature (not 4/4), such as 7/4 or 5/8.

orchestra bells - bells consisting of tuned metal bars mounted on a rectangular frame and played with a mallet.

ostinato - a musical rhythm or phrase that is repeated over and over again.

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P
pandeiro - tambourine; a round hoop (usually wooden) with metal discs or jingles attached to the drums. Common in Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music.

pang - pang cymbal - See "china cymbal"

pans - (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.


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paradiddle - 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.

PAS - 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).

pattern generator - an electronic or computerized device or program that generates a multitude of rhythms.

pedal (or foot pedal) - used to play the bass drum or hi-hat.

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percussion clef - the staff commonly used in percussion (as opposed to bass clef) where it is not necessary to notate pitched instruments.

percussion 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.

permutation - 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 possibilities.

phrasing - how drum beats are distributed by the player around the drums in context to the song or drum solo.

piano - dynamic marking meaning "soft"

pianissimo - very soft

piccolo snare - a very thin, high pitched snare drum.

polyrhythm - more than one rhythm or time signature being played at the same time, such as 3 against 2.

popcorn snare - What is a popcorn snare you ask? Well, a popcorn snare drum is a snare drum developed to provide a super-tight "pop" sound that's usually loud and features heavy duty hardware to withstand high tensioning.

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practice pad - a pad designed to allow drummers a quieter and more compact surface to practice sticking patterns such as drum rudiments. Drum practice pads come in many different types of styles, shapes and configurations.

pulse - the consistent "heartbeat" of a rhythm.

punk - punk drumming

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Q
quadruple time - 4/4 time or time signature equaling 4 beats to a measure. Quad meaning "4".

quads - consisting of 4 drums and often played in marching band or drumline.

quints - consisting of 5 drums and played in marching band or drumline.

quinta (or quinto) - The smallest conga drum.

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R
rack - or "drum rack" - a large metal frame that surrounds the drumset and holds cymbal stands, tom attachments, and percussion accessories. This setup allows for greater memory lock and is very practical. The downside is that it is heavy and usually bulky.

rack tom - toms mounted to a drumset.

rain stick - 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 percussion effects.

rhythm - the manipulation of strong and weak beats, creating a flowing and/or syncopated pulse. If you were given the gift of rhythm, you might just be playing drums or a percussion instrument.


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ride (ride 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".

R.I.M. (or RIM 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.

remote hi-hat - the top part of a hi-hat (where the cymbals come together) located on a different part of the drumset. A cable runs to and operates it "remotely". Some are mounted without a cable. This type of mount would only allow the cymbals to remain stationary, not open and close.

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rack - a "drum rack" is a metal assembly that surrounds the drumset and holds the top parts of cymbal stands as well as percussion holders. Its purpose is to save room underneath where multiple drum stands can often crowd the drum platform. It is also used by drummers to make setups easier. Pro drummers will often use a number system to number their stands and racks.

rack toms - the mounted tom toms, whether they are mounted on the bass drum, on a stand, or on a drum rack.

resonant drumhead - referring to the bottom head of a drum.

rim - the metal hoop that keeps the drumhead in place. It fastens down onto the drumhead by screws (or tension rods) that go through holes in the rim. A rim must be check occasionally for proper roundness.

rimshot - hitting the snare head and the snare drum rim at the same time. The effect is a louder, punchier sound or backbeat.

roto-toms - mounted, shell-less drums that changes pitch when rotated by hand.

roll - drum roll. Rolls (single stroke, double stroke, 5 stroke, etc.) that help make up the 40 drum rudiments.

rudiments - rudimentary beats used to create independence between the two hands (and feet) in drumming. These beats can then be manipulated around the drumset or with any percussion instrument. There are currently 40 drum rudiments (or standardized drum rudiments).

rudiment solo (or rudimental solo) - a solo consisting of numerous drum rudiments and often utilized in drum competitions by drumlines.

ruff - 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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S
sabar drums - another native African drum. Uses peg tuning and played with a stick. This drum was used to communicate back and forth to nearby villages.

salsa - 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.

second line drumming - A style of drumming originating from New Orleans. More on Second Line.

shaker - any percussion instrument that can be shaken. Usually a hollowed out container filled with beads or pebbles.

shekere - a large hollow gourd surrounded by woven beads. Common in Afro-Cuban music.

shell - the cylindrical drum without hardware (lugs, rims, heads).

side drum - snare used in Irish drumming.

single stroke 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.

skin - (or drum skin) is the head of the drum. A drumhead is often referred to as a drum skin. This a thin piece of animal hide such as is sometimes still used on african drums, or a synthetic polymer head traditionally used on snare drums and drumsets.

slit drum - a hollowed out log or slab of wood cut on top in a manner in which it can be played melodically with mallets.

snare basket - the top part of a snare stand (cradle) that holds the snare drum. A snare basket most often has 3 arms.

snare drum - 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. Snare drums are made from wood, metal or even forms of plastic. The drum heads are made from mylar and are often covered with a thin white coating. The drum heads on the bottom of a snare drum are often thinner to allow the snares to vibrate more.

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snares - the long wiggly shaped wires stretched across the bottom of a snare drum. These wires create a preferred buzz sound.

solo - drum solo

splash (or splash cymbal) - a quick sounding cymbal with short sustain. Small in diameter generally from 6" to 14". Most typically 6" to 10"

spurs - small rubber balls mounted on the end of drum legs that keep a floor tom or other drum from sliding. Bass drums have similar or pointed spikes that protrude from either side of the front to keep the bass drum from sliding forward.

stave drum - a drum shell constructed of vertical strips of wood, as opposed to one solid piece. Constructed in the fashion of an old barrel. Common stave drums are conga drums and stave snare drums.

steel drum - (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.

sticks - drumsticks


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stick twirling - twirling the drumsticks for showmanship on stage.

straight cymbal stand - a cymbal stand that does not have an extension or boom arm.

sustain - referring to the ringing of the drum or how long it resonates.

swing - 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.

syncopation - when a beat or a musical phrase is syncopated.

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T
tabs - short for tablature (see drum tabs)

talking drum - originating from West Africa, this hourglass-shaped drum is bound with animal skin and rope in such a way that, when the rope is squeezed between the arm and the body, it changes the pitch of the drum back and forth. It is played with an "L" shaped stick.

tambour - French for "drum". A drum or drummer.

tambourine - a thin disc with metal discs attached, the tambourine is a popular percussion instrument played with the hand against the palm used to enhance and color music.

tam-tam - gong

temple blocks - a set of tuned wood blocks played with mallets or drumsticks.

tempo - the speed of the rhythm or song.

tension rod - the long screws (sometimes short) that attach the drum rim to the shell of the drum, with the drum head in the middle. You tighten the tension rods (or screws) to tune the drum.

the pit - 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.

throne - the drum throne is the drummer's seat, also called a drum seat or drum stool. Typically the drum throne rests behind the hand drums or drumset but can be used for any instrument that requires sitting. Keyboard players often use a drum stool or throne.

throw off - the lever on the side of the snare drum that releases the tension of the snares.

timbales - timbales have their origin in Latin music. They are steel drums played with drumsticks. The famous Latin drummer Tito Puento popularized the timbale drums as the headliner for his band. Drumset players also use timbale drums to enhance their sound.

timpani - see tympani

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tom-tom (or tom) - a single drum. Also, mounted tom tom drums on a drumset, most commonly played with drum fills. They are also called rack toms. Sizes for rack toms can range from 6 inches all the way up to 18 inches. The larger drums, instead of being mounted on top of another drum, will have metal legs attached to them and are called floor toms. Tom toms have two drum heads, a batter head on top and a resonant head on bottom. They have several tuning keys (lugs) and can be tuned with a drum key.

tom tom stand - a stand that holds mounted toms.

trapset - a trapset is simply another name for the drumset or drumkit. The word trapset was more commonly used during the big band era. It stems from the old days when they used to put different percussive instruments together around a bass drum and labeled it a "contraption". It was then shortened to "traps".

train beat - 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.

Drum Play Alongs

triangle - 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.

triplet - 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.

transcription - The result of transcribing a piece of music.

tubular bells - A member of the chimes family, tubular bells are long metal tubes (around 5' or more) that are struck with a special hammer. This percussion instrument is common in school bands, marching bands (pit), and orchestras, as well as symphonies.
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tumba (or tumbadora) - the largest of the typical 3 conga drums family.

tympani - (kettle drums) Kettle drums are pitched instruments that are considered a part of the melodic percussion family. They are very large drums made of copper or brass, most often used in orchestras and symphonies. These drums have a foot pedal that is attached to the head mechanism. When the foot pedal is depressed, the kettle drums make a unique, "boing" type of sound. Also spelled "timpani".

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U
udu drums - "Udu" means "pot". an oblong drum (or pot) made of clay. It has a hole on top that resonates the sound when the drum is struck with a hand. It generally makes a deep sound.


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V
vibes - 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.

vibraphone (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.

vibraslap - An instrument of percussion used for sound effect. It is held in the hand or can be mounted. When the ball of the vibraslap is struck, it vibrates the metal teeth inside and makes a long rattling sound.

virgin kick - a bass drum with no mounting holes for the tom bracket.

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W
wing nut
- a wing-shaped nut that is used at the top of cymbal stands to secure the cymbals. It is also used for cymbal stands and to secure drums on their mounting hardware.

wood block - a percussion instrument used to enhance and color music. Wood blocks are hollow in the center and create a full-bodied tone. There are many different shapes and sizes of wood blocks, each creating a specific pitch.

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.

X
x-hat - 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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Y
y are there so many drummers?

Z
zero ring (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.

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