Groove Scribe: The Free, Online Drum Transcription Tool That Will Change Your Life

By JJ Jones

Imagine if you merged notation software with a drum machine and got a universally accessible, infinitely changeable, instantly sharable online tool, that was free and easy-to-use. Sound too good to be true? Meet Groove Scribe, the new browser-based drum notation tool developed by Modern Drummer’s 2016 Clinician/Educator of the Year, Mike Johnston, in conjunction with famed web programmer Lou Montulli.

Don’t Know Drum Notation? No Problem!

To make and share grooves, just fill in the blanks and Groove Scribe creates the notation for you. This is done through a grid of dots (see Fig 1) where each dot corresponds to a beat subdivision (e.g. quarter, eighth, sixteenth or thirty-second notes). You fill in the dots and they appear on the notation staff below. Hit the spacebar to play it back, and use the bpm slider to set the tempo.

GS - basic rock beat hi-res
Fig 1

Share Your Grooves

Incredibly, you can instantly share your groove creations with anyone anywhere. Groove Scribe creates a unique URL link that will open up and play your transcription in any online web browser window. And, it can can be changed without changing the original—just hit Share again and another unique URL is created.

Efficient Practicing is a No-Brainer

I have a sheet that contains Groove Scribe links for all my drills, exercises, and songs. When I sit down to practice, I just open each link in a browser window and play along, using each transcription as a template and changing the speed or individual notes as needed. No more thumbing through drum books and sheafs of notation printouts, everything I need for practicing is at my fingertips – and, I can access it anywhere I have an internet connection.

JJ’s Kick Drum Practice Routine

Transcribe (and Hear!) Difficult Drum Charts with Ease

Got a complex drum chart? Transcribe it onto the grid and hear it back in minutes, then play along at any tempo. The hi-hat and snare have multiple sounds to choose from (open, crash, rimshot, ghost note, etc), you can add toms and sticking patterns, choose the time signature and note values, and copy, add or delete measures. You can even add swing, export to MIDI and print to a PDF.

GS - linear beat hi-res


As an educator, Groove Scribe has completely revolutionized my Skype lessons. I can transcribe a beat, song, or exercise for a student, email or text the link to them immediately, and they are playing along in seconds. PDFs, printouts and expensive notation software are no longer necessary. Equally importantly – my students are using Groove Scribe on their own, since it’s free and easy-to-use for even the most basic beginners, and it’s teaching them how to transcribe beats and read drum notation!

Create and Compose

Create your own grooves by filling in the dots and substituting different sounds and orchestrations on the kit. Groove Scribe also has built-in grooves like the Purdie Shuffle, Bossa Nova, and foot ostinatos like the Samba, so you have a jumping off place for creating your own beats. Using mixed subdivisions, e.g. triplets and non-triplets, in one measure is difficult (but doable), and you can’t string together measures with different time signatures, but these are some of the few limitations of this awesome invention.

  • I composed this groove solely on Groove Scribe by morphing a basic 8th-note rock beat into a complex 16th-note linear beat:

Groove Scribe is the ultimate online digital drum notation and playback tool that has literally changed my life as a drummer and educator. What can it do for you? Check it out at:

JJ Jones (Girlyman, Margaret Cho, Lucy Wainwright Roche) is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She is an instructor at girls and ladies rock camps across the U.S., and is the founder of

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