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Doctor Groove's Tab Format (W3DTS)

1. Introduction:
Each and every drummer has their own unique and personal style and technique
of playing,
from how they lay out their kit to their handling of the drum sticks. W3TDS tries to
those variables by presenting the drum tablature in its simplest form, without
imposing any
unneeded or uncomfortable technique for the drummer. The W3TDS system can
be read, write and
accepted by a wide range of drummers.
The W3DTS drum tablature system was created based on the guitar/bass
tablature system and
will be easy to understand if you understand the principle of how guitar/bass
tablature works.
Basically you have a set of lines all preceeded by a
symbol code (See 2. What The Symbols Mean) for example:

SN:----1--: x2
There is a number on each line, in sophisticated (i.e. proper) drum tablature there
always be more than one number. Let's analyse what the above example means:
BA = Symbolic mnemonic for a bass drum
SN = Symbolic mnemonic for a snare drum
This tells us that the bass drum and the snare drum are used in this drum
tablature. But what
does the number signify?
1 = Soft strike
This tells us that we must strike softly (2 = Moderate strike and 3 = Hard strike)
The '-' between the numbers simply indicate the amount of time in 0.5 second
intervals the
time between each strike. There is a two second gap at the start and end of each
tablature line to make
reading more easier.
Now let's put this example to practice:
In literary terms the above example shows that a bass drum and a snare drum are
being used for this tab.
The first strike is a soft strike on the bass drum, immediately after that we have
another soft strike on
the snare drum. The 'x' number after the tablature simply states how many times
to repeat the pattern
(if neccessary). In this case the number is 2 so we repeat the pattern twice. It's as
simple as that.

There are occasions when you have to strike drum items similtaneously, for

This simply means strike the bass drum and snare drum similtaneously with soft
Now let's analyse timing, with the following example:

SN:----1--1--: x2 slow
This simply means play the pattern twice very fast.
By now you should be able to read and write drum tablature, there is only one
optional item you need to
know; annotations, for example:

(BEAT 1 - VERSE 1)
SN:----1--1--: x2 slow ["You let me desecrate you..."] - Electronic
drum pads preffered
(The above is an example of Chris Vrenna's 'simple' rhythm for Nine Inch Nail's
'Closer' from 'The Downward
Spiral' album. - I'm not actually a big NiN fan, by the way. I just think it's a good
The above example has three different types of annotations, firstly in the circle
brackets we have a
reference to that drum tab incase we need to reference it again instead of writing
it again. The annotation
enclosed in quotation marks inside the square is a lyric line which acts as an aid
to the drummer on what
lyrical line specifies with the tab. Annotations without question marks in square
brackets represent actions,
a simple example of this is [choke] (i.e. choke cymbal). Any annotations
preceeded with a '-'
are comments or suggestions by the tab author for that tab. Drum tab name
references are user definable, yet
popular names such as VERSE #x, PRE-CHORUS #x, CHORUS #x, ROLL #x (where
'x' is a number) etc. should
be used to identify consistency between drum tabs.
The following section explains the various nmemonics and terminology used in
the W3DTS system.
2. What The Symbols Mean:

Cymbals: (Vary according to different drum layouts)

RC = Ride Cymbal
CC = Crash Cymbal
SC = Splash Cymbal
(If you do not have a certain cymbal, substitute it for a compatible sounding one.)
Tom Toms: (Vary according to different drum layouts)
T1 = Tom Tom #1
T2 = Tom Tom #2
FT = Floor Tom
(If you have less or more tom toms you will have to
manually figure out how to apply this to a specific
drum tablature.)
Bass Drum(s): (Vary according to different drum layouts)
BA = Bass Drum
or if Double-Bass
B1 = Bass Drum #1
B2 = Bass Drum #2
(Obviously, drum tablatures based on double-bass will you to have a double-bass
kit, whereas single
bass drum tablature can be applied to both single bass and double-bass kits.)
OH = Open Hi-Hat State
SH = Slightly Open Hi-Hat State
CH = Closed Hi-Hat State
SN = Snare Drum
(Unless specified as a comment in the tablature, the default setting for the snare
is the 'loose'
skin state, the other states can be 'tight', 'rimshot' or 'strike-sticks'. These can be
interchanged at
any time throughout a tab.)
Miscellaneous Items:
(Some drum tablature cater for miscellaneous
percussion items which are mentioned here.)
CB = Cow Bell
SH = Shaker(s)
TA = Tambourine
WB = Wood Block
BE = Bell
Strike volume numbers:
(These are the numbers that appear within the tab.)
1 = Soft strike
2 = Normal strike
3 = Hard strike
(i.e. speed.)
v.slow = Very slow
slow = Slow
moderate = Moderate
fast = Fast
v.fast = Very fast

Standard suggested order of drum tablature lines:

(Please follow this structure to make drum tablatures consistent.)

MI:----: (Miscellaneous items in order of importance.)

(If double-bass then:)
HH:----: (An opened or closed state must be specified
though, of course.)
N.B: Duplicate items can be added, but bare in mind that the majority of
drummers do not own
a double-bass, a variety of cymbals or an array of tom toms since
'standard' drum kits comprise minimal
items such as a single bass, two cymbals, and three toms (including the
floor tom).
3. Epilogue:
Copyright notices:
It is always good practice to write your name and/or contact details on
any tablature you create as well as the
all important title of the piece. Copyright signatures and trademarks
must also be outlined to prevent
infringement of your work, this also prevents you from infringing the law
when tabbing other peoples work.
Author's note:
I hope that this document proved useful to understanding the W3DTS
drum tablature system and will persuade
you to endorse this system to make it a recognised web drum tab
standard. Of course, I don't ever think that
this format will be the next Hitler.
Yours Sincerely.
Doctor Groove - dork@weirdness.com
Thanks to The Difinitive Drum Tab Archive for giving me this file.