Open and closed hi-hat in drum notation

• Sep 29, 2015 - 18:38

In my (scanty) knowledge of drum notation, a + over the note indicates closed hi-hat, while an o indicates open. MuseScore by default puts open hi-hats of the "E" space (in treble clef). See this picture:

Drums, with open and closed hi-hats.png

Bar 1 shows default MuseScore notation.

Bar 2 shows my preferred notation (o added as staff text). Playback sounds wrong.

Bar 3 prints my notation, while playing back correctly (the closed hat is muted).

Under "edit drumset" I can move the open hi-hat to the same spot as the closed one, which fixes part of the problem. I'll probably add "+" and "o" to a palette. But I'd like to see this implemented in the future. Any ideas on how?


I don't know if it's realistic to expect a text or articulation marking to actually change the pitch of a note, but I guess it doesn't hurt to file a feature request. Meanwhile, you're exactly right about how to do it. Edit your drumset so the open and closed high hat are notated the same, then simply add the marking yourself.

In reply to by mistery

Indeed, there are lots of different standards out there. Our defaults adhere to one of the popular standards, but of course there are others. An interesting question might be, is there a useful small subset of standards we could provide as ready-made options, so if you wish to use one of those standards you need to merely select it from a list rather than customize the drumset manually?

Ideally, people would be able to post links to documents describing their favorite standard. If we end up getting lots of votes for the same 3 or 4 standards, we could take it as evidence that those particular standards really are especially popular among MuseScore users and then considering supporting them as ready-made drumset definitions. My suspicion, however, is that if I get any more than a couple of responses to this at all, it will end up with a dozen or more different standards with one vote each.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, that's a great idea.
I was aware of different ways of drum notation but would not necessarily call them standards. The notation has been evolving and still is. Nothing wrong with that, essentially.
But, as Marc points out, if we call something a "standard" then it should have a pretty clear specification and we should be able to select this particular standard for use. Just like there is now a standard for the drumset key. Actually, there are several of them but a user can select which particular one to use.

Lately, I've mostly been using Audio Graffiti's Drum and Percussion Notation as a reference:, which follows Norman
Weinberg’s Guide to Standardized Drumset Notation, and find it pretty comprehensive.

In any case, the benefit of this exercise would be to establish some communication channel, provide an insight into different standards in use, have clear references to these standards, and allow for their implementation and use.

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