I’m a self taught drum kit player and this is my first time reading drum sheet music. I’ve made drum sheets before with MuseScore, so I can read most things fine, but there’s one section where it asks me to play 3 notes at once (a ride, snare, and an unspecified drum played with the hand I assume to be a tom of some sort).

drum groove with instances of simultaneous notes in the third space (snare drum), fourth space (tom?), and first space above the staff (ride cymbal)

What does it want from me? Obviously I can’t play 3 drums with 2 hands.

Also, it occasionally says “pop” (written in quotations on the sheet music), in reference to a snare drum. What does that mean?

drum groove with "R.S" and "pop" marking below snare hit

  • Can you add an example of such notation, and author and title of the music? Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 3:48
  • Sure, I just didn’t want to get in copyright trouble. The title is “Themes from 007 (A Medley for Orchestra) arranged by Calvin Custer
    – OctoBoi
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 4:09
  • You can probably play a snare and a rack tom if they are positioned the right way and you use both ends of a stick simultaneously. I can’t say for sure if that is what they are after. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 6:31
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    I think the three hits at once notations are mistakes. If the original really sounds like all three are hit, I might just not hit the ride since it has the longest sustain from the previous hit. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 11:12
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    Drum kit notation isn't completely standardised. If the first space above the staff is being used for the ride cymbal, maybe the fourth space is for the hi-hat. If so, for the first groove you could play these hi-hat notes with the left foot. Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


As a percussionist and drum set player, There's some stuff that's just 'wrong' with the sheet music in front of you (using normal as opposed to X noteheads for cymbals, along with your 3 hand instruments at once issue).

I would just pick 2 of the three based on personal taste/your ear. Personally I would very rarely be inclined to play a high tom along with a snare on every two and four, but I'm sure there's some musical context for it somewhere. Listen to some recordings of the piece if possible, ask your bandleader, and play what sounds good (such is the life of a percussionist).

If you still aren't sure, is there a guide/diagram on your music telling you what each line/space on the stave stands for? It might be in the directors score?


The "pop" text goes together with the "R.S." text above it.

R.S. means rimshot, but I think what's probably intended here is a side-stick rather than a rimshot.

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