Two questions about defining drum parts in instruments.xml

• Jun 4, 2016 - 03:14

1. Can I use the same MIDI pitch for two drums? Ex: have pitch 48 be both snare buzz on the center line with a funny notehead and a snare buzz on the bottom line with a normal notehead (obviously hypothetical in this case).

2. Can I define one drum to playback multiple MIDI pitches? Ex: have a single note that would trigger *ALL* the bass drums to play at once?


I'm not sure about #1, but I would try it and see if it works.

#2 is not possible - that would have to be done in the soundfont. In fact it's one of the changes on my todo list.

None will work. Drumset is an array indexed by pitch. For each pitch it defines a notehead, a line, a voice, a name, a stem direction and a shortcut.
I don't understand the need (but I'm a drummer, using a drumset, and not a marching band member)

1. A drummer will make a different sound if notes are different, so why we should be able to assign the same sound to different notehead/line.
2. Idem. It seems illogical from a physical point of view. A strike on a drum will play a single sound and should be represented by a single note. If the drummer should hit different drums then the sheet music should have one notehead per drum.

To me, there are only two things missing:
1. the ability to associate a symbol to place on top of the notehead (for example open hi hat is often notated with a x notehead and a o on top of it)
2. More noteheads. (Guide to Standardized drumset notation by Norman Weinberg recommend to use a notehead with \ on it for rimshot for example)

In reply to by lasconic

Here's some of my thoughts:

U-1. You'd want to assign the same sound to different noteheads/lines to work around general MIDI limitations (or soundfont issues, etc…) so you have a placeholder in playback rather than have an unused pitch and no playback at all . Best drumset example I can think of at 3AM is imagine having a normal stick and a nylon tip stick and you want to specify whether you're hitting the ride cymbal with the nylon or wood tip. For playback, it would be best to use the same sound for both, with the understanding that the notes would sound different when played by a real human.
U-2. I agree that this is probably a very unlikely scenario for set playing and probably will only be a common occurrence in a marching bassline or a drum synth. I could imagine a scenario where an orchestral or band composer wants to use a single symbol to signal that the entire section hits something in unison, rather than have a tall stack of notes.

M-1. Absolutely agree, especially with your example.
M-2. I'd also add that we need some way to shove a "Z" on the stem of the note for buzz rolls. IIRC, even Finale didn't do this, but it's how I've always seen buzz rolls notated.

Another use that combines the idea for additional noteheads and using two definitions in a drumset sharing a sound are ghost notes. There's no reason to clutter the soundfont with separate ghost note samples when you really just need to define a ghost note as the same note, but really quiet.

Finally (and a bit unrelated), know of any way to make playback of flams, drags, and 3-stroke ruffs nicer? Flams are a bit too spaced apart and drags and ruffs are all over the place in their playback, depending on the duration of the main note.

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