Patrick Mcfowler Musician, DJ & Author

Drum Vocabulary

The Vocabulary found on this page relate’s directly to drum equipment, musicality, and Performance. The list of vocabulary will prepare you for the common language in musicianship.

 Drum Equipment

Metronome – a device used by musicians that marks time at a selected rate by giving a regular tick.

Drum head – skin of a drum

Drum Stick – used for beating a drum.

Dowel Rod Drum Sticks – A dowel is a solid cylindrical rod, usually made of wood, plastic or metal. used for a Light Sound

Brushes – a thin stick set with long wire bristles, used to make a soft hissing sound on drums or cymbals.

Mallets – wooden or plastic stick with a rounded head, used to play certain percussion instruments such as xylophone and marimba.


Backing Track – a recorded musical accompaniment, esp. for a soloist to play or  sing along with.

Tune – adjust to the correct or uniform pitch

Tempo – Music the speed at which a passage of music is or should be played.

Time signature – an indication of rhythm following a clef, generally expressed as a fraction with the denominator defining the beat as a division of a whole note and the numerator giving the number of beats in each bar.

Key – Music a group of notes based on a particular note and comprising a scale, regarded as forming the tonal basis of a piece or passage of music.

Crescendo – a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music.

Decrescendo – a decrease in loudness in a piece of music.

Rim Shot – a drum stroke in which the stick strikes the rim and the head of the drum simultaneously.

Quarter Note – a note having the time value of a quarter of a whole note or half a half note, represented by a large solid dot with a plain stem.

Eighth note – a note having the time value of an eighth of a whole note or half a quarter note, represented by a large dot with a hooked stem.

Sixteenth Note – a note having the time value of a sixteenth of a whole note or half an eighth note, represented by a large dot with a two-hooked stem.

Flam – one of the basic patterns (rudiments) of drumming, consisting of a stroke preceded by a grace note.

Triplet – a group of three equal notes to be performed in the time of two or four.


Set List – List of musical performance Material for a gig.

Sound Check – a test of sound equipment before a musical performance or recording to check that the desired sound is being produced.

Monitor – device used for observing, checking, or keeping a continuous record of a process or quantity.

Green Room – a room in a theater or studio in which performers can relax when they are not performing.

Dummy Check – Double check for equipment when loading out.

From the Top – Expression meaning start from the beginning of the song.

In the Pocket –  Solid groove and feel keeping it as simple as possible.

Per Diem – A sum of money paid or given to a musician to cover daily expenses.

XLR – A plug and socket used in professional audio equipment

D.I. Box – are frequently used to connect an electric guitar, Lap top or electric bass to a mixing console’s microphone input.