Mad Men Theme Song Drum Transcription

Posted on January 31, 2014


I’m a huge fan of Mad Men- the show AND the opening credit music, which is from a track by RJD2 called “A Beautiful Mine.” I wish I knew more about how he created the drum track. The production sounds similar to DJ Shadow- live drumming sampled and arranged. At any rate, it’s a super-creative drum part. So I transcribed it.

I tried to get it note for note. There are a few vids of guys covering this piece on You Tube and, frankly, they don’t even get close to playing the actual drum part. That’s understandable- the part is very notey, moves fast and the sample is pretty low-res, so it’s hard to hear everything that is going on. I’m not sure I got every note exactly right but it’s like, 95% there. And figuring out the exact part really yielded some interesting things, including a triply lick towards the end that I’ve integrated into my arsenal of fills.

First, the transcription:

Mad Men Drum Transcription

A circle around a cymbal indicates a bell hit and parentheses around a snare note should be played as a “ghost” note.

Take a look at bar 13 ( the bar with the sticking figures). This is the fill I mentioned before. It’s kinda weird because the kick doesn’t follow the crashes it normally would. Use two different cymbals to play this- one on the left (crash) and one on the right (ride or crash). The sicking included is just what worked for me but there are different ways to pull it off. Once you learn this lick, you can loop it, phrase it or use it as-is when you need a fill that makes people go “huh?”

I play the transcription in the video below.

I always learn a lot when doing transcriptions. I think it’s a real benefit of having the ability to read and write music. And for me it’s actually faster than learning by ear alone. If you want to learn drum notation find a teacher, locally or online, that can help. It’s not that hard to learn, and the payoff is huge if you’re a serious student of music.

If you have any questions about this transcription feel free to comment!