Drum input and voices

• Jan 10, 2017 - 19:21

MuseScore treats drum staves different from others in terms of how note input is performed. This is unavoidable due the nature of how drum notation works - there are multiple notes that can be placed on each line or space with different shaped note heads to indicate different drums, etc. Also, drum input more or less demands use of multiple voices but in a unique way, where any given "note" is used almost exclusively in the same voice throughout the piece. But some aspects of how drum input works with respect to multiple voices seem confusing or even broken. I'd like to take this opportunity to collect ideas for how things could be improved.

First, here is the issue that started the discussion: #153686: Drum input palette: notes set to enter as voice 2 are entered into voice 1 in error. There are several different ways of entering drum notes - computer keyboard, double click icon on drum palette, single click icon on drum palette then click in score, MIDI, and Piano Keyboard. Of these, only the computer keyboard always takes advantage of the predefined voice for each drum note (as specified in the drumset definition for the staff). Single click icon sets the toolbar to the specified voice so that clicking the score will normally enter into its predefined voice, but you can change to a different voice before clicking in the score to override the default. MIDI and the Piano Keyboard ignore the predefined voice entirely and just use whatever is selected on the toolbar. Double click in the toolbar is the one that is kind of broken with respect to voices - it behaves in what appears to be a random manner (actually depends on what is already present in the measure).

Obviously I want to fix double click to be more consistent and predictable. The question is, what *should* the behavior be? More like keyboard input where we use the predefined voice? Or more like MIDI / Piano Keyboard entry where we use the toolbar?

And more broadly, is it really valuable to keep the idea of predefined voices, given that it only really applies to some input methods and we need to provide the ability to override this anyhow? I can see both advantages and disadvantages to the predefined voice. One advantage is, it really is the case that snare drum is probably always going to be in voice 1 and bass drum in voice 2 throughout a score, so having predefined voices can save a bit of voice switching during note input. One disadvantage is, it just feels different from regular note input. It also feels inconsistent between methods of drum input. Of course we *could* change this so that all methods of input use the predefined voice, but then the only way to override it would be using the single click icon / click in score method, which is a step backwards in usability to me.



IMV, voice allocation should be as per standard note input: you chose the voice from the Voice toolbar above the score window. Same as entering percussion from the virtual piano keyboard or from an external MIDI keyboard.

I'd say consistency is KEY. I'm a beginner so I'm struggling twice as hard as those that have used this product for years. It seems to me it would be logical to check the instrument. IF that instrument is a drumset it IS going to have multiple voices. However, drummers, composers and the like have different ways of making those voices "sing" and express their musical ideas. It should be EASY to lay down 1 bar of 8 eighth notes for hi-hat, a basic kick drum rhythm, and snare drum hits for that bar. Instead, it looks like it'll be easier to edit the drumset and place the snare in default voice 3 just so I don't "confuse" the software.
--Without rhythm, the band is lost, but without notes, the band is pointless!

In reply to by ronhat@gmail.com

Actually, it is easy to lay down notes for those instruments, using only two voices. Assuming you are doing this in the standard way - stems up for hands, stems down for feet - it all works perfectly right out of the box. Only if you wish to customize this to work differently from the standard would it necessary to edit the drusmet.

If you are having difficutly figuring out after reading the Handbook on "Drum notation", or checking out other documentation, feel free to start a new thread, attach your score, and describe what in particular are having trouble with.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I've been struggling with notating drums for so long and this is the first time I've seen "stems up for hands, stems down for feet". Ran to my computer, opened Musescore and was instantly able to fix a drum pattern I was stuck on for so long. Thank you so much! I know it might seem like such an insignificant thing, but for me I've finally got the advice I've needed to keep my projects going. Thank you sir!

In reply to by daviddmulhern

Glad it helped! I should emphasize, the hands/feet thing is the most common standard in the US, but there are other methods too. So if you end up finding another system you prefer, you can use the Edit Drumset button to customize the assignment of notes to voices. And you can also override the default voice when needed, like if you have a bass/snare pattern would want to show in voice 2. What's important is to have clear concept of how it should look on paper - how you want the voices the look. Then it's just a matter of getting it into MuseScore.

This seems like an issue that doesn't have a correct answer, as widely varied as percussion notation is. Linear drumming tends to notate using one voice only, so no answer will satisfy everyone. I think that the current system is a good middle ground so long as users understand how to edit the drumset.

I know you're more focused on input, but some sort of automated drum key might make for an interesting feature in the future (see attached).

Another point that I'll add, a bit tangential to this issue, is that the High Floor Tom defaults to Voice 2 - that doesn't seem to have a purpose, and I've never seen notation including it.

Attachment Size
Down-Under-Men-At-Work-550x550.png 101.32 KB

As I'm sure you know, the average drummer has two arms and two legs. Forgetting the legs for a moment, he hits the hats with one hand and the snare with another. So when he's got the hat beat going and hits the snare there is no reason for the hat to change at all. I've got the kick on voice 2, the hats and the snare are on voice 1 and they are stuck there, there's no opportunity to get them on different voices. It's just chewing up hour after hour but I need to get the job done.

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.