Drum notation ledger accuracy

• Oct 9, 2014 - 16:48

Current version: First beta release of MuseScore 2.0
I would LOVE to see MuseScore tackle the issue of drum/cymbal notation detail. From what I understand, no notation software out there follows drum/cymbal notation thoroughly or correctly.

***As it may be known, drum notation is based on the relative heights of the parts of the kit. So feet instrumentation at the bottom, Snare on the second space from the top, Toms on spaces above and below and Cymbals from the top line upwards:***

I have attached a reference .jpg diagram.

(1) Firstly, Hi-Hats are should NOT be notated *above* the Ride Cymbal. Every software incorrectly defaults the Ride Cymbal on the top line and the hi-hats on the space above it. [The reason it pervades things like magazine transcriptions and books is BECAUSE the people scoring these won't or can't find the time to apply the correction. Understandable with the concept of limited time.] WHY NOT have MuseScore be the FIRST to tackle this? Please be the first to tackle this. It also says to the drum community, "detail matters".

(2) Notation for hi-hat opens. I know this has been discussed in another thread so I will post this part there too. This is sort of the mother of drum notation issues and THE ultimate opportunity for MuseScore to shine. In short, if you address this, you will gain, I believe, copious amounts of cred and love from the scoring/publishing drumming community. I would stand on a mountain top and tweet to my hearts content if...

Anywhooo, it would be just deliriously and unconscionably exquisite if there would be a function to place an "o" above the hi-hat note...wait for it.....*automatically*. The circled x really indicates a crash or effects cymbal. I am not a programmer and do not know what they are up against to make this happen, but the best I could gather from Encore about it is various sentiments synonymous to "shut up".


Non-issues (at least to this author)
- Where currently MuseScore has hi-hat closes with the foot on the space below the bottom line - while technically it is the the bottom line where it should be, this is an example where it's not so much a big deal. In the olden days, the bottom line would be additionally used for double bass work but that's pretty much unnecessary now.

- As for percussion notation, that is wide open since it would need a "drum key" for clarity.

Attachment Size
cymbal notation.jpg 70.7 KB


(I'm a drummer too, maybe a different country, France)

If you search in the forum you will find several discussion about drum notation and what is "correct". The fact that this discussion exists shows that "correct" and "accuracy" are just a matter of taste and habits.

I believe that the current default drumset of MuseScore follows as closely as possible the "Guide to standardized drumset notation". Together with the Guide to Drums & Percussion Notation, they are the two reference books which tried to standardize drum notation. They don't always agree I believe, so the first one was taken as a reference since one was needed.

3/ The hi-hat with foot is on the D line in G clef in the reference like in MuseScore. (the second book also agree)

1/ Hi-hat with hand is notated above the F line in the reference, like in MuseScore. The ride cymbal in this guide is also notated on the F line in the reference (also in the second book). So the reference disagree with you...

2/Regarding open hi-hat, we all agree (you, the two books and I). It would be great to be able to associate the open "articulation" to it. Actually it would be great to add any articulation to any note in the drumset. The current open hi-hat on the E note is really not good according to me, and we should at least change it to a circle-x and put it on the same position than the closed one if we can't get the articulation solution for now.

In reply to by Nicolas

Thanks for your feedback!

I have read thorough the guides/links you mentioned before...but in terms of the WHY they/he (Norm Weinberg) don't/doesn't really explain. The logic of relative height reference (at least in terms of drum set) seems to be preferable to "just because", no? As a performing drummer, drum teacher and publisher/transcriptionsist, I DO know why.

I guess my premise is simply led by pragmatism and consistency. For my own work, I stick to the hh on the top line and in the space rc above that.

At the very least I'd much rather discuss the idea of standardized notation with other drummers instead of taking Norm's word for it! And with no disrespect to him at all...he's the one who took the initiative to publish something that hadn't been done before! But we ought to consider why we uphold certain standards like that!

ALSO KEEP IN MIND - should a user be able to save a reusable drum map - that would solve the issue even better! What is interesting about that is it will give more individuality between transcribers. THAT would be the very best route for standards of drum notation to evolve! Speaking only for the dormant Encore software which I am most familiar, you can not save drum maps and half the time it nullifies the drum maps set for individual saved score...and of course then it crashes!

Let me know your thoughts, lasconic or anyone else!

In reply to by boomcrash

You *can* save your own settings - that's what the "Edit Drum Set" button is for, to let you make changes, and they will be saved with the score, plus you can save the drum set separately and load it into other scores, save a template, etc. So if you prefer some given cymbal to be represented on some given line in all your scores, you can make that happen.

That said, I must point out that there is no universal standard here. I understand why you like things the way you do, but you must realize that every publisher has their own standard they follow, and they all have their reasons for preferring things the way they do that are just as valid as your reasons. There is no right and wrong here - just different personal preferences. MuseScore has to choose one method as the default, and it makes sense for that default to be one that is reasonably widely used, and I think the defaults chosen do serve that purpose pretty well, but no matter what defaults were chosen, many users would be dissatisfied because their preferences differ. That's unavoidable in a world where there is no universally-agreed-upon standard.

In reply to by boomcrash

As Marc explained, you can of course made your own drumset or your own drum template with a drumset.
To edit and save a drumset, right click a drum staff -> Edit drumset, make the change you want and press the Save button. You can then load any drumset using the Load button.

MuseScore even comes with a "french drumset" I created with other drummers on the french speaking forum of MuseScore. The french drummer culture has been quite marked by the books published by Dante Agostini, so french drummers have different expectations.

In reply to by boomcrash

Hi boomcrash, I just stumbled upon this discussion while doing research on drum notation.

> but in terms of the WHY they/he (Norm Weinberg) don't/doesn't really explain.
Yes, I didn't find an explanation in their book Guide to standardized drum notation. But Elaine Gould does explain in Behind Bars:

"Some editors reverse the position of hi-hat and ride cymbals. However, the advantage of placing the hi-hat above the top line is that it is often the leading part, and crossed noteheads are most legible above the line."

Hey guys - thanks for the info. That is absolutely fantastic you can save the drum maps...I hadn't gotten around to messing with that aspect yet (I've only had MuseScore installed two days!). And this fact remedies the issue...without beating the dead horse of the "prior software" I used (or I should say am weaning off now) - I was told that maybe there would be something in 2016 addressing that. So finding out I can edit and save drum maps with MS is just grand.

Thanks!! :-D

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