Schlagzeugnotation

Music notation for unpitched percussion differs significantly from notation for pitched instruments (such as the piano or violin), but you should be familiar with standard note input before proceeding.

On a 5-line percussion staff, each instrument is assigned a particular staff position (line or space) and a notehead shape. When writing for a drumkit it is common to use two voices: voice 1 (the upper voice) usually contains (upstem) notes played by the hands while voice 2 (the lower voice) usually contains (downstem) notes played by the feet (see image below).

Drum notation example showing the use of two voices

Drum input palette

When a percussion staff is selected and note input mode is ON, a window opens at the bottom of the screen called the Drum input palette. Each note in the palette represents a percussion instrument: hovering the mouse pointer over the note displays the instrument name.

Drum input palette

The letters A–G (shown above certain notes in the palette) are designated as shortcuts for entering particular instruments (bass drum, snare, closed hi-hat etc.), rather than referring to note pitches. They can be changed or reallocated as desired in the Edit Drumset window.

When the Drum input palette is open, double-clicking a note in the palette or entering a shortcut letter will add that instrument note to the percussion staff. The color of the note in the palette shows the voice allocated for that note—blue for voice 1, green for voice 2. This can be changed in the Edit Drumset dialog if required.

This voice allocation only applies only to keyboard and mouse entry of notes: entry via a MIDI keyboard or the virtual Piano keyboard allows any voice to be used.

Note input methods

You can add notes to a percussion staff from any of the following:

  • External MIDI keyboard;
  • Piano keyboard (virtual);
  • Computer keyboard;
  • Mouse.

These methods can be used in any desired combination:

MIDI keyboard

The easiest way to add notes to a percussion staff is via a MIDI keyboard connected to your computer. If you click on the percussion staff without entering note input node, you are free to demo the percussion instruments beforehand.

To enter notes from the MIDI keyboard:

  1. Click on the note or rest where you want to start.
  2. Enter note input mode.
  3. Select the correct voice. For example, snares, sidesticks and all cymbals are normally added to voice 1; bass drum to voice 2.
  4. Set note duration.
  5. Press the MIDI key for that instrument to add a note to the score. To add another note, keep the first key held down while pressing the second key.

Note: Refer to a GM2 drum map for details about the allocation of keys to percussion instruments. Some MIDI keyboards (e.g., Casio) display percussion symbols next to the keys as an aid to the user.

Piano keyboard

To display the virtual Piano keyboard, press P (or select it from ViewPiano Keyboard). If you click on the percussion staff without entering note input node, you are free to demo the percussion instruments beforehand.

To add notes to a percussion staff from the virtual Piano keyboard:

  1. Ensure that the Piano keyboard is displayed.
  2. Click on the note or rest where you want to start.
  3. Enter note input mode.
  4. Select the correct voice. For example, snares, sidesticks and all cymbals are normally added to voice 1; bass drum to voice 2.
  5. Set note duration.
  6. Click on the MIDI key for that instrument to add a note to the score.
  7. If you wish to add another note to an existing one, press Ctrl and hold it while pressing the new note.

Note: Refer to a GM2 drum map for details about the allocation of keys to percussion instruments.

Computer keyboard

To enter notes on a percussion staff using your computer keyboard:

  1. Click on the note or rest where you want to start.
  2. Enter note input mode. The Drum input palette now appears at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Select the desired note duration.
  4. Press the shortcut key (A–G) for the instrument note you wish to enter.
  5. If you wish to add another note to an existing one in that voice, press Shift + [A–G].

Note: Voice allocation is determined by the color of the note in the drum input palette: blue for voice 1, green for voice 2.

Mouse

To add a note to a percussion staff

  1. Click on the note or rest where you want to start.
  2. Press N to to enter note input mode. The Drum input palette now appears at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Set note duration.
  4. Chose one of the following options:
    • Double-click a note in the Drum input palette.
    • Select a note (e.g. Bass drum, or Snare) in the Drum input palette, then click on the percussion staff to add the note to the score.

To add a note to an existing chord in the percussion staff

  1. Ensure you are in note input mode mode.
  2. Select a note duration equal to the note you are adding to.
  3. Click on the new note in the Drum input palette.
  4. Click above or below the existing note in the percussion staff.

Note: Voice allocation is determined by the color of the note in the drum input palette: blue for voice 1, green for voice 2.

Edit Drumset

Clicking on Edit Drumset at the left of the Drum input palette, opens the Edit Drumset dialog. Alternatively, right click on a percussion staff and chose "Edit Drumset." The left-hand side of the window consists of a list of MIDI numbers/note names, their associated percussion instruments and any keyboard shortcuts.

Edit Drumset

Clicking on a row in the left-hand column allows you to edit the display properties for that note as follows:

Name: The name you want displayed in the Drum input palette when you mouse over the note.
Notehead: Chose a notehead for that instrument from a drop-down list of options.
Staff line: This number indicates the staff line/space on which the note is displayed. "0" means that the note is displayed on the top line of the 5-line staff. Negative numbers move the note upwards step by step, while positive numbers move it downwards in the same way.
Stem Direction: Auto, Up or down.
Default voice: Assign to one of four voices. This does not affect input from a MIDI keyboard or the virtual Piano keyboard.
Shortcut: Assign a keyboard shortcut to enter that note.

The customised drumset can be saved as a .drm file by pressing Save. You can also import a customised drumset using the Load button.

Roll

To create a drum roll, use Tremolo.

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