Drum Terms

Here you will find a list of drum related terms, along with the description of each. This is a powerful tool for drummers irrespective of their skill level:


Accents – Notes played louder than normal, to give a distinct shot or hit. Accents are played usually to compliment other musicians in the band, or to spice up the beat. Accents require stick control and are great for practice.

Afro Cuban – A type of Latin drumming that includes influences from Africa and Cuba. This style of music involves many of the Latin patterns, such as the Clave, Cascara etc.

Batter Head – The batter head of a drum is the side in which you hit. There are two heads on a drum, the batter and resonant. 

BPM – Also known as Beats Per Minute. BPM is a term that identifies the tempo of a song. BPM determines how many beats there are per minute of play.

Crescendos – The act of raising the volume of a beat for a certain duration of time. Crescendos are used to build energy, and transition songs from one style to the next.

Ghost Notes – A note played on the drum that is felt more than it is heard. Ghost notes are quieter notes played in between the regular notes.

Polyrhythm – Playing 2 different time signature patterns over the top of each other. A polyrhythm includes two distinctly different time signature grooves, played on top of each other, to create a unique beat. 

Rim Shot – An accented stroke produced by hitting the drum head and rim at the same time. A rim shot is usually played at higher volumes to create a loud accent.

Time Signature – A fraction that determines how many beats are in each bar, and at which note value they are played in. For example, a 7/8 time signature would mean there are 7, eighth notes per measure.

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