Battery Percussion notation: Custom note heads?

• Jun 23, 2017 - 17:43

A little background.

I've been using Musescore for a while as a volunteer percussion captain head for a local high school with limited funds. Musescore is what the band director uses, funds for Sibelius are out of the question. I use Musescore for both battery/keys part writing and digital audio recordings for the kids to listen to. I have spent a good deal of time developing my own sound fonts to get the best sound quality I can.

So two obvious and exhaustively discussed problems are Flams and Buzzes. I have audio work arounds for both, and print work arounds. But this causes me to have to develop two charts for every arrangement (one for audio, one for print.

For those that don't know, the way grace notes are implemented in Musescore is geared to a wind instrument and does not at all translate to a the same grace note sound in terms of velocity (volume) nor rhythmic spacing for a proper drum flam. And there is no 'Z' tremolo option for Buzz notation.

My work around for Flams was to develop a single Flam sound, insert it into the sound font and assigned it to the slash note head in my 'Battery Drumset'. There is already a single sound for a buzz, but it's notation is the trapezoid note head instead of 'Z' on the stem. The print work around is to use 'staff text' and literally align the letter 'Z' to the stem.

So on to my question.

Is there a way to add a custom image for a note head? I would like to have a notehead that has both the single dot and a smaller grace note next to it, and a note head with a Z slightly above and offset. I can create the images with no issues, I just have no clue how to insert them into the Symbols and make them available for use.

Images of note types in question attached.

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2017-06-23 01.51.17 am.png 11.78 KB
2017-06-23 01.51.44 am.png 8.06 KB


You can add custom images to scores, but you can't use them as noteheads. To add images, see the Handbook under "Images". You can also add these to a custom palette as described under "Custom palette".

I may have been the person to create the diamond notehead notation for buzz rolls as a workaround for the lack of a proper Z through the stem (so that there is some visual differentiation from a normal snare note).

For the flams, it might be a better solution to add an option for percussion staves to interpret grace notes the drummer's way instead of the standard way, rather than add a custom notehead an additional note to the SoundFont. My reasoning here is that adding to the SoundFont will also require adding flams for each of the six tenors and maybe the non-marching percussion, too, but to add an option to change grace note playback behavior can fix this issue for all percussion staves at once.

In reply to by duck57

After writing this post I modified a bit of how I work around this. I do agree that being able to adjust both the velocity and the timing/spacing of the grace note would be the best option, but that is up to the developers.

As a work around, there is a symbols section in the master pallet that has pretty much every notation imaginable, but has no playback effect. I built a custom pallet and called it 'battery notation' and put most of my common used items like tremolos, + for tenor cross overs, z for buzzes on stems, etc. Now I use the same note head for everything in my drumset, and manually add whatever custom notation I need for the reader (see image). So one score for both playback and reading. Most of the time I just drag what I need once then copy/paste the symbol everywhere else to save time.

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2017-11-06 10.12.01 pm.png 580.55 KB

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