"If you are looking for some new drumming vocabulary or soloing stuff, I have got a lot of great things for you"

Table of Contents

Looking for Actual Transcriptions of Popular Songs from the Legendary Drummers?

The point of the information on this website is to help you. That’s why the heading of this section poses that question. If you’re looking online for information on transcriptions, I figure that the first and most likely thing that you could be looking for are actual transcriptions themselves. 

In my case, when I’m looking online for transcriptions, it’s usually for some solo I want to learn rather than a song.

However, I’m betting that some of you might be looking for songs too. If that’s the case, then you should check this other page out—here on the BANG! The Drum School website—-called “Popular Songs.”

On the “Popular Songs” page, I picked ten amazing songs from the 1970s and had them transcribed for you. They’re classic songs—the stuff of my teen years—and you’ll be able to take these transcriptions/drum charts and go play these songs pretty quickly.

Here’s a link to the “Popular Songs” page so you can check it out. 

Now, if you are looking for some new drumming vocabulary or soloing stuff, I have got a lot of great things for you right here on this very page.

Read on…

9 Transcriptions of Legendary Drummers Playing Drum Solos

Over the years I’ve transcribed so much stuff.

Of course, when you’re going to spend that amount of time to figure something out (transcribing takes a lot of time to do), the particular performance must hold some strong meaning for you.

And the 9 transcriptions included here do indeed have meaning for me.

Here’s what’s included:


Sonny Emory “Master At Work” Drum Solo

If you don’t know Sonny Emory, he is a long-time professional who has played with Eric Clapton, Earth Wind and Fire, Bette Midler, Steely Dan, The B-52s and many others.

Presented here is an absolutely insane drum solo. It’s over 5 minutes long and it’s got so much to it. And the entire thing is transcribed here for you (9 pages). Emory played this live, with his band, “Sonny Emory’s Cachet” in 2019 at the Vista Room in Decatur, Georgia.

The solo was transcribed by my friend and collaborator Tim Buell. That means you can count on it being accurate.

Now here’s a link to download the transcription:

And here’s a link so you can watch and listen to Emory actually playing this:

Elvin Jones “Digital Display” Time Playing Transcription

Let’s move into something a bit more subtle. Elvin Jones is clearly acknowledged as one history’s greatest and most influential jazz drummers.

There is no doubt that Elvin could solo. In fact his soloing style was quite unique and could easily put the listener off balance. In other words, although Jones would play perfectly in time, the listener might not know what was going on because his phrasing and general playing was so complex.

But the transcription presented here is of Elvin playing time on a section of the song “Digital Display” from the album Time Capsule.

A couple of notes. Elvin is playing 2 and 4 on the hi-hat but I didn’t include it in the transcription just so it would be easier to read.

It’s also hard to hear whether or not Elvin is feathering the bass, but you can try it and see what you think. I liked how feathering added some weight to my playing when I tried it.

Click here to download the transcription

Philly Joe Jones Drum Solo on “Deep Night”

From the album Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clark, here is Philly Joe Jones’ drum solo from the song “Deep Night.”

Philly Joe Jones is one of my very favorite jazz drummers. He was an accomplished soloist.

His soloing relied heavily on the rudiments and always contained interesting phrasing and accents that fit perfectly into the jazz genre.

For me, he was the one to emulate if you wanted to learn how to solo as a jazz drummer.  I studied him quite a bit. This solo was one that grabbed me because of its construction and the wonderful technique that Jones displayed on the snare drum.

There is a lot of great stuff here in this solo.

Click here to download the transcription 

3 Drum Solos by Vinnie Colaiuta

Anyone who knows me and my drumming preferences knows that I love Vinnie Colaiuta’s playing.

Besides his fantastic groove, his technique is fantastic and his soloing is mind-blowing.

Here are three samples of soloing from Vinnie that I really like. All of them are very different from one another.

“Led Boots” Intro

If you’re a Jeff Beck fan, as I am, Led Boots may be a song you know and love (as I do).

The tune originally appeared on Beck’s Wired album, released in 1976. The studio version of “Led Boots” featured Narada Michael Walden on drums and his original drum intro is one great example of rhythmic displacement, which has become much more popular since. Vinnie pays homage to this in his version, which we present to you here.

The drum intro transcribed here is from the Live at Ronnie Scott’s album, released in 2008.

The intro is short, but most definitely sweet. You can download it here

“Indian Time Zones” Drum Solo (2nd half)

The tune “Indian Time Zones” appeared on Warren Cuccurullo’s 1996 release, Thanks 2 Frank. The title refers to Frank Zappa, who employed Warren on several of Zappa’s albums and tours.

This is an example of a “rare” CD that I hunted down because of my obsession with Vinnie Colaiuta. I was not disappointed. There are some super cool drumming ideas in this solo that I still use to this day.

By the way, It’s the 2nd half of the solo that’s transcribed here.

And now, after that wind up, here is the transcription of the 2nd half of Vinnie’s drum solo on “Indian Time Zones 

“Heavy Resin” Drum Solo

This one, for me, has long been the stuff of legend. Document, by the band Karizma, came out in 2000 and drummers everywhere became obsessed with it because of Vinnie’s playing on it.

The song “Heavy Resin” is particularly impressive because the time signature is 11/8. Not easy to wrap your head around at first. But this band (with David Garfield on keys, Neil Stubenhaus on bass, Michael Landau on guitar and of course Vinnie Colaiuta on drums) grooves deftly despite the rhythmic challenges of such an odd time signature.

And soloing in eleven? That certainly sounds difficult. But Vinnie plays an amazing solo here and I always wanted to learn it.

Here is the transcription

“Under Pressure” Drum Solo by Queen’s Roger Taylor

I believe that this might be the only recorded drum solo by Queen’s Roger Taylor.

It’s from the “Under Pressure” Duet with David Bowie and Freddie Mercury–actually the artist billing on the song is Queen and David Bowie.

Anyway, I always liked this little drum solo. It’s not particularly challenging from a technical perspective but it is a very musical sounding solo.

Here it is; Roger Taylor’s drum solo from “Under Pressure” 

Tony Williams’ Fill from “Joy Filled Summer”

The Tony Williams Lifetime was a fusion project put together by the great drummer, Tony Williams. The fill I’ve transcribed here is from the song “Joy Filled Summer” from the album Million Dollar Legs. The fill occurs at around 1:15 in the song. When you hear it, you’ll know it’s “something.”

It just stood out to me as something special and I had to figure it out.


Steve Gadd’s Fours from “Jordu” Part 1

Last, but most certainly not least is Steve Gadd.

When I first heard Steve Gadd play jazz, I was hooked. I was already into Steve’s playing, but my drum teacher at the time suggested I listen to albums by the band Steps (Burning in the Pit —an absolutely stunning album, and in particular, Gadd’s playing is wonderful), and the Manhattan Jazz Quintet. Both feature Gadd.

“Jordu” is on the MJQ album Autumn Leaves, one of their first albums. Gadd takes some fantastic fours on the track. The transcription here includes the first two of those four bar solos only. But no worries because they are amazing.

Here is the transcription

Free E-Book Gives You 5 Must-Know Drum Licks.

Enter your information below to receive your free digital copy of 5 Killer Drum Licks now.

You’ll also be added to our email list which is highly regarded as the most entertaining and helpful email list in the drumming community.