Writing Drum Parts

As a big band arranger, writing drum parts is one of the harder tasks you will encounter. So, watch this instructional video to see:

  1. what to include in a big band drum part, and
  2. how to enter it into Finale music notation software.

This video was made for my jazz arranging class students, after transitioning to online distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this point in the semester, their big band charts are nearing completion. After having dealt with ensemble voicings and writing soli lines, we are now focusing on details like writing drum parts.

Because this video is 20+ minutes long, here is a list of the “main events” and their times, so you can fast-forward to what is needed. ¬†This serves as an outline as well.

  • analyzing a student’s chart (0:23)
  • audio playback of first 8 measures (1:12)Writing Drum Parts with Finale Notation Software
  • critiquing the drum part (1:32)
  • guidelines for writing a drum part (2:13)
  • what needs to appear in this drum part? (3:16)
  • writing by hand first (4:19)
  • entering drum notation into Finale (6:25)
  • writing slashes, using the staff tool (6:38)
  • putting slashes in Layer 2 (7:42)
  • note entry in Layer 1 (11:17)
  • note entry in Layer 3 (12:35)
  • switching stem directions (13:10)
  • entering cymbals (14:17)
  • copying & pasting portions of measures (17:42)
  • adding ensemble cues above the staff (18:41)
  • breaking beaming (19:37)
  • decreasing the size of cues (20:19)
  • indicating a fill (21:31)
  • parting thoughts (22:44)

YouTube is filled with similar videos. Each person has a slightly different approach to using Finale. Some videos and approaches are better than others, but you will pick up different tips and tricks from different individuals.

Here are some additional videos to check out: https://youtu.be/RhsjadTIj2Y, https://youtu.be/tN6UC2Txtpg, https://youtu.be/rE4VycG1aCE



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