Open Hi-Hat

• Apr 3, 2013 - 22:51

I am using MuseScore to write drumset music. One thing I have noticed to be lacking is the open hi-hat. I created mine by inserting the closed hi-hat, then dragging an ouvert to the note, then repositioning the ouvert above the note.

I must tell you that I am new to music reading, and honestly haven't the slightest clue what an ouvert is, but this seemed to work. If I am being dumb, feel free to tell me so.

In any case, I would like to see an open hi-hat in the drums palette. Same as closed hi-hat, but with an open circle over it.


You shosuldn't need to drag anything or position it manually. Articulations can be placed by selecting the note then double clicking the articulation. It should then automatically be positioned directly over or under the note (depending on stem direction).

There isn't a ton of standardization in drum notation. If you choose to use an articulation to indicate a particular drum, that's fine, but I am not sure it would be appropriate to add this to the drum palette, which doesn't include any other articulation markings. Other articulations on other instruments are added from the palette; I don't really see why drums should be different.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I have never come across any drum kit parts where the open and closed hi-hat parts are on different lines of the stave. Dealing with open/closed hi hat parts is the largest chunk of manual labour I have to do when using MuseScore. Whilst I'm arranging I want to hear the drum parts correctly, but for generating score and parts, I want it so that drummers can read the part so I have to go through changing all the open hi hats to closed ones and adding ouvert. I would love it if MuseScore could be configured to show open hi hats in the same position on the stave as closed ones, but with an ouvert added. It would save me so much time, and would mean that my finished scores and parts would both look and sound the way I want them to. If automatically adding the ouvert articulation symbol goes against the grain, how about a different note head for open hi-hat which has a cross with a circle offset at the opposite side to the stem?

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Thanks. I can see how this can make the open hi-hat appear in the same place in the stave as the closed one, but unless I've missed something, I can't make it automatically add an ouvert articulation symbol. I guess a compromise is to use a cross note head with a circle around it which might give drummers a decent clue as to my intentions, even if it's not what they are familiar with seeing.

In reply to by phildriscoll

As I said, if you want to add an articulation, then yes, you need to do so manually. It's that way for all other instruments and all other articulations - there is no special command to place a note with a staccato marking on one stroke, or a note with an accent. I can't see any reason why the circle mark should be a special case. It's just an articulation marking like any other, and can be added as such. It's not particularly time consuming. Select the notes (ctrl click to select several) you want to add the articulation to, double click the marking in the palette.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

We'll have to agree to disagree about time consuming. I've just had a quick look at the last piece I arranged and there are hundreds and hundreds of open hi-hats. I'd agree that it wasn't time consuming if I could select all open hi hat notes in one go and then apply the articulation to them all. My workload is decreased now that I know that I can change the displayed note by editing the drum palette. I think that the difference between this particular articulation on the hi hat and others, is that the user has already selected a different drum for the open hi hat, and certainly in a huge swathe of music styles, the convention is to always show open hi hat with an ouvert symbol, so it feels like the software is forcing me to do a job twice, when I know that it would be much more convenient for many users for it not to.

PS I'm not complaining here - I love MuseScore and recommend it all the time - I'm just trying to make it a little bit better!

In reply to by phildriscoll

Again, I just don't see the difference between that an a piece for trumpet with hundreds of staccato notes, or a piece for piano with hundreds of accents, or a piece for violin with hundreds of down bow markings, etc. It's a different way of playing the same basic instrument/note, just as staccato or accent or downbow is.

I just don't get why you think the circle you use to ondicate open hi hat should be different from every other articulation in MuseScore. So rather than suggesting it somehow be treated as special, why not a suggestion that works for all articulations - like the ability to assign a keyboard shortcut to them so they can be entered directly in note entry mode with a simgle click? This already works for staccato; adding the ability to define shortcuts for other markongs would solve your problem but not require strange special casing of the circle to be treated differently from every other marking in MuseScore.

But I also said before, you *can* add the circle or any other marking to lots of notes at once. Just ctrl-click the notes you want to apply to, then double click the marking. No need to add it one note at a time. And definitely no need to drag anything.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The reason I think that this should be treated differently is this:
Some trumpet notes are normal, some may have articulation marks, but in all the drum parts I have ever seen or used, *ALL* open hi hat notes have an ouvert articulation mark. Without it, they are closed hi hat notes.

I know that I can do multiple selections, that's how I apply the ouvert articulations, but on a long piece with hundreds and hundreds of open hi hat notes, it takes a long time to add them all.

In reply to by phildriscoll

I know it seems I'm just being argumentative here, but that it is not my intent. My goal is to redirect this discussion to a feature that would help *everyone*, not just people writing drum sets parts using the ouvert symbol.

So, look at what you just wrote: some trumpet notes are normal, some may have articulation marks. Well, isn't that exactly what someone could say about hi hat? Some hi hat notes are normal, some have an ouvert articulation mark. You say "ALL *open* hi hat notes" have the mark. Well, a trumpet player would say "ALL *staccato* notes have the mark. You think of open hi hat being a different thing from a closed hi hat, but it's not any more different that a staccato trumpet note is from a legato one. It's just two different techniques applied to the exact same instrument. Foot up versus foot down, tongue on versus tongue off.

The reason I keep pointing this out is that I wish you to understand *you are not alone* in wishing it were easier to enter articulation marks. People writing for other instruments would like an easier way to enter articulation marks too. So why should developers spend a lot of time implementing a special system that *only* benefits people writing for drumset, when they could spend that same effort implementing a system that worked for *everyone*?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The difference with the trumpet example is that you enter a single instrument, then apply, say, a staccato articulation mark. This single operation will create a staccato trumpet note that looks correct, and that MuseScore will play correctly. With an open hi hat, the consistent approach would be to enter a hi hat note (which by default would sound as a closed hi hat) and then add an ouvert symbol to it. This would then look correct and MuseScore should notice the ouvert and play the hi-hat as an open one. I would be happy if things worked this way. But the fact is you have to do two things to make it an open hi hat - choose the open hi hat drum from the palette so that it sounds correct, AND apply the ouvert symbol so that it looks correct.

In reply to by phildriscoll

Maybe I'm biaised because I'm a drummer but I tend to agree with phil here. Somehow MIDI also agree. Closed and open hihat are two different instrument in MIDI while a stacatto on trumpet is not.
It would probably be a good idea to be able to define an articulation to be put on a note in a drumset.

As I said, there is no standard for drums. There are two american books who tried to define a standard though.…

I'm european, and I never write the open hihat with a ouvert but with a circle around the note. I do write crash with an accent though... so the feature would become handy.

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

Respectfully and sincerely, there is MOST CERTAINLY standardization of drum notation. The only thing lacking is adherence to it.

This MIT fella...that pdf is merely a regurgitated pdf by the notation softwares. Please stop referencing that (link doesn't work, by the way). I'm saying this not to be an agitator but it needs to be said: non-drummers and programmers who are not drummers should not dictate "standards" but when they get the programming jobs at Finale, Sibelius, Encore (long defunct) and MuseScore...

It disappoints me that none of the notation software seems to be interested in following standardization for drums. The failures being predominantly with the hi-hat location on the staff which ought to be the top line but is always defaulted to the top space and instead the ride cymbal below that on the top line. [Find me a picture of a drum kit with hi-hats above the ride cymbal!] Sadly Musescore is no improvement from any other notation software but at least Musecore doesn't charge you $400-700 for the shortcoming and they let you save your own drum map. Fair enough!

An "o" above the open hi-hat note is in fact the standard. Assigning the hi-hat open to a separate part of the staff is (1) incorrect and (2) entirely impractical. As for the circled X to indicate hi-hat opens, while that is actually NOT standard, it is one of those few variances that is pragmatic that I think lends itself to becoming at least a "optional" standard.

Whether or not an open hi-hat is given a different line due to MIDI requirements it still doesn't ultimately hold water. There are a handful of things that can be done to accommodate all needs without weakening the basic drum notation parameter.

It looks like you cannot set the X and Y location default for the "o" articulation which seems clumsy to me. It defaults 2.5-3x higher than it need be. The only workaround I know of is to leave it at the default and after completing each line I can highlight each of the opens, and in the Inspector change the X and Y Offsets that will set them all the same. If it helps anyone, setting the X at .48sp and the Y at 1.65sp looks snug.

In reply to by hihat_is_on_th…

As we used to say in the standardization business - the great thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from!

Yes, there are standards for drums. Several different conflict ones. If there only one that everyone agreed was the One True Standard, that would be nice, but as it is, our defaults are based on one of the most popular of the different competing standards out there. But, unfortunately, the playback architecture doesn't currently have an easy way to have articulation on a note change the MIDI pitch. So until that design is improved, we compromise and use the method we do.

Meanwhile, the easy way to get better positioning of the "o" is to change it from "Above Staff" to "Chord Automatic". After making the change, either hit the set as style button ("S" icon) or just Ctrl+Shift+drag the customized marking back to the palette for easy reuse.

In reply to by phildriscoll

There are differences to be sure, in the basic way that drums are always different from other instruments when it comes to MIDI. Indeed, if you are primarily thinking about playback rather than notation, there is something to the fact that with hi hat, the addition of the note gets the playback right already without the need for the marking, and the marking is "merely" notational. Whereas for staccato trumpet, the marking is what affects the playback. So yes, that *is* a difference in as much as playback is concerned. But this really just an accident of how MIDI happens to be implemented - or more particularly, how MuseScore happens to implement. If MuseScore did work such that the same displayed note were used for both open and closed and it was the marking that changed the MIDI pitch - would this change your impression?

Anyhow, as is often observed, MuseScore is primarily about notation, not playback. So these issues of how the MIDI playback happens to be implemented don't strike me as significant. When we look at it *as notation*, I see no difference between a note with an ouvert over it and a note with a staccato dot or down bow marking over it. It's a note with a marking over it, period. To get the effect you want in the notation, you need a note *and* you need an articulation. People writing for trumpet, piano, violin, and every single other instrument need to do this in two steps - first create the note, then add the marking. I just don't get why it is somehow unacceptable for people writing for percussion to need two steps when creating their notes with markings, but it is perfectly OK for everyone to need to steps to create their notes with markings. Either way, it's a note with a marking. Either the current method of creating a note with a marking is unacceptably difficult or it is not.

Again, I am not in the least opposed to finding a way to reduce the amount of effort required here. I am actually very mich in favor it. I would just like to see a solution that helps with *all markings* for *all notes* on *all instruments*, not just the special case of one marking (ouvert) over one note (MIDI pitch 46) for one instrument (drum set). If adding markings to notes is harder than it need be - and I agree that it is - let's fix that, and fix it for *all* cases. I believe that allowing the possibility of keyboard shortcuts for all note-attached palette items (including the new custom palette entries for 2.0) would be a huge benefit to *everyone* in *many* situations. This would include the ability to place not only articulations, but also dynamics, staff text items like arco or pizz, and more, in a single keystroke, without leaving note entry mode.

Now, if that were implemented and then someone were to argue that the special nature of how MDI works for drums means that there is an opportunity to make it even easier still for drums - say, by adding an option to the drum set editor dialog to specify a marking to be added automatically for any given defined note - I certainly would not object. Not that I am "objecting" to seeing this implemented now. I am simply arguing that simplifying the addition of markings for *all* cases should be a higher priority, and that once implemented, the need for an additional drum-set-specific facility might not seem to great.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I agree drum notation is not standardized, but looking at hundreds of drum parts I've never seen one where the closed and open hihats is on different lines, and it is certainly extremely common the use of + for closed an o for open. Love MuseScore but bizaree choice having the open hihat on different line.

In reply to by malcolmmccaff

Keep mind this thread is over a decade old and much has changed - but not this specific detail. It wasn’t so much a “choice” as a a matter of the limitations of the playback system, which is tied to the idea of different MIDI pitches corresponding to different staff lines and spaces, with no possibility of using articulations to trigger different MIDI pitches. But finally after so many years, this is being worked on for a future update.

I don't understand why you cannot find the open hihat.

I assume you are using the 5 line drumset??

On my version of MuseScore (1.3) it is in the Drum palette on the 3rd row, 1st column.

In any case the drumset can be customised: See my reply to phildriscoll below.


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

There are several convention to notate open hihat. Two popular ones are
- using a cross notehead in a circle.
- using a cross notehead with a circle like the "ouvert" articulation on top of it.

In MuseScore, via a drumset, you can only create the first one. If you want to use the second one, you need to add the ouvert articulation manually.

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

I asked a friend here in Toronto who is perhaps Toronto's busiest drummer, most styles. Here is the relevant snip from his response"


Secondly, I don't know why that responder says there's no standardized drum notation??? It's totally standardized. Closed hats is an X usually on the E in treble clef but I've seen it on the F or G. G is usually the ride cymbal and A, the crash cymbal. Open hats is always with a circle above the X or a circle with a line through it. Closed hats have nothing unless it has an open hat preceding it, in which case the hat has a small x over the top of it.

End Snip::


In reply to by xavierjazz

"Closed hats is an X usually on the E in treble clef but I've seen it on the F or G" - that's exactly the sort of thing I meant when I said it isn't really standardized. Not that there isn't some broad sets of parameters in place, but that different editors do things differently when it comes to specifics. And his quotes above confirm this. Different editors put a given drum on different lines, exactly as he admits. There is also variety in how note heads and stem directions are used. One common convention is to use stems up for drums played with the hands, stems down for drums played with feet. But others use stems up for cymbals and down for drums, others still use stems up for everything. And as observed elsewhere on this thread, open hi hat is sometimes notated with an articulation mark, other times with a note head. I'm sure he is perfectly aware of all this. He just doesn't seem to realize that this variation is exactly what I mean when I say there is no real standardization here.

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