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Drum tab

Drum tablature is a type of drum notation that uses six lines of tablature below the notation, communicating the drumming instructions via MIDI percussion numbers. Here’s an example:

The main advantage of drum tab is that it’s easy to create, as you just have to memorize a few MIDI numbers rather than decide which staff lines to use in a traditional music staff.

To create a drum tab instrument in Soundslice, add a drum kit instrument and select “Yes” next to “Tab?”


Your instrument will have six lines of tablature below the standard notation. To notate, click on a tablature line and enter a number representing your the drum sound you want. These are General MIDI percussion sounds; if you’ve used drum tab before, you’ll be right at home. The numbers are:

29Scratch push
30Scratch pull
31Stick click
33Metronome click
34Metronome bell
35Bass drum
36Kick drum
37Snare cross stick
38Snare drum
39Hand clap
40Electric snare drum
41Floor tom 2
42Hi-hat closed
43Floor tom 1
44Hi-hat foot
45Low tom
46Hi-hat open
47Low-mid tom
48High-mid tom
49Crash cymbal
50High tom
51Ride cymbal
52China cymbal
53Ride bell
55Splash cymbal
57Crash cymbal
60High bongo
61Low bongo
62Conga dead stroke
65High timbale
66Low timbale
67High agogo
68Low agogo
71Whistle short
72Whistle long
73Guiro short
74Guiro long
76High woodblock
77Low woodblock
78Cuica high
79Cuica low
80Triangle mute
81Triangle open
83Sleigh bell
84Bell tree
86Surdu dead stroke
91Snare drum rod
92Ocean drum
93Snare drum brush

It doesn’t matter which tablature line you enter the number on. This is purely up to you, so you can optimize for readability. Some people like to put the bass drum on the lowest line, for example.

Can I use drum tab to write my music, then hide the tab when I’m ready to share?

Yes indeed! Once you’re done with the tab, edit the instrument and click the tab icon next to “Visibility” to hide the tab:


The tab data will still be available in the slice, but it won’t be displayed by default. You can always redisplay it by editing the instrument and changing the visibility setting.

In a drum tab instrument, can I add/edit the notes via the staff as well?

Absolutely. If you add a note via the staff (with the A-G keys), we’ll automatically determine the most appropriate MIDI number and put that in the tab. If you change an existing note via the staff, we’ll change its MIDI number in the tab.