In this lesson we’ll go over the essentials of counting quarter notes in four-four time. This will lay out a foundation for the various subdivisions that will be covered in some of the other lessons on FreeDrumLessons.com. Let’s start at the top of the provided sheet music.
The first line shows a measure of quarter notes. This sheet music is a four-four time and thus each measure is divided up into four of these quarter notes. Essentially, each quarter note is taking up one fourth or one quarter of the measure. Take a look at the second example. You can see two measures, each with four quarter notes. Each measure is divided by a vertical line. So you can see the glance where each starts and ends. Counting quarter notes is very simple and straightforward just count out loud. One, two, three, four and restart at one for each measure counting both measures in example two with sound like this, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, and four.
Now, you can tell that these notes are quarter notes because the bottom portion is filled in and they have stems coming up from them that are not connected in the group. Eventually, when you’re introduced to other notes like eighth notes and 16th notes, you’ll see how they appear differently.
In the third section you can see four measures. You may notice that some of the quarter notes here are in different vertical positions. All these means is that they’re representing a variety of different drum set voices. Don’t worry about what parts of the kit are being noted. We’ll cover that in our lesson on drum notation.
The important thing here to realize is that they’re all still quarter notes. They’re still four within each measure and they all have the same visual characteristics that let you know to count them as quarter notes. If you have a metronome, you can take it out now. If you don’t have one just follow along with me and eventually get one of your own.
We’ll set it to count 80 beats per minute and count these last four measures of quarter notes out loud, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four. If everything makes sense up to this point, you can move on to counting eighth notes in the next lesson.