Rests, and drum rolls

• Jan 21, 2011 - 16:03

Hello! I downloaded Musicscore last night. I'm a 16-year-old high-school trombonist and have been wanting a program I can use to try my hand at compositions. It looks pretty good, but I have a couple issues:

First, why does it keep adding rests on me? I don't know quite how to explain it, and this is, of course, my first time using such a program, but it seems to constantly want to slip rests in between notes where I don't want them. I know it's probably just trying to make sure the measure is up to the time signature, but still, I was testing it out by writing a short few measures for trombone, and there was a rest stuck in between a couple notes that I couldn't get rid of, and it sounded awful. I tried to just move the notes back, thinking maybe if I copied them over the position of the rest it would get rid of it, but I don't seem to be able to do that (if you can I guess I just don't know how).

Second thing is note copying, drum sounds, and drum rolls. I don't know much about drum notation, so I guess a drum roll would be a series of connected 32nd notes? That's what I wanted to try anyway. My complaint about the drums is that none of them have that nice, crisp snare sound we all know and love - it's more like a "psh" than a "da!" sound. It's just too "flat" - not in the musical sense, but in the sense of the way it sounds. It should be sharper. But, that's more a feature request I guess.

Anyway, my issue with creating a drum roll is basically that I wanted to do a song which required the drum to roll throughout the whole thing, and the process of copying down the notes (especially since you can't, apparently, copy them into the length you want when doing drums [viz, you always get a quarter note, and not the 32nd you want], you have to create each note, select it, and then change it over) would take far too long to do manually for the entire song. Basically, I was wondering if there was a way to just select a note and copy it out over x number of measures or something?

Sorry for all the (probably very basic) questions/problems, but like I said, I'm new at this, so please try to bear with me. :)



Edit: Oh wonderful, I've just found the easier way to add the drum notes in the handbook! I knew my questions were probably simple. :D But still, it'd be nice to be able to automatically copy it over several measures, and am I right about 32nd notes being a roll? Also, is there a way to change the duration of several notes simultaneously? I've tried selecting several with CTRL+click, but it doesn't seem to want to change them, which is annoying.

Thank you!

In reply to by Musicality_

You can't shift music nor you can't change note duration at once. Imagine how complex it can be if you shift a nested tuplet over a barline. You can select music with Shift + Left/right Arrow, and copy paste with Ctrl + C / Ctrl + V.
If you're not familiar with music notation software, you can follow the video tutorial at (there is one for drum notation) and of course it's a good idea to browse the handbook , especially Soundfont for your sound issue.


First, I'd like to welcome you to the musescore community. Let me say how happy I am to hear that you are using musescore to do your composition work.

Drum notation can be very difficult. In the most basic sense, there are two types of roll. In a concert setting, the most common roll is called a "buzz" or "multiple bounce" roll. It is created by buzzing each stroke across the drumhead, and when properly executed will sound like a continuous hiss or fuzz. The second type, which is most commonly used in marching percussion is the "double-stroke" or "open" roll. This is the notation you described... although there are many variations of this roll, a good starting point is to think of it as 32nd notes. You will have to decide what kind of a sound you are trying to get.

Now, this is where the soundfont comes in. A concert drum is usually much smaller, with wire snares, and light-weight drumheads. It tends to give a much softer (one could argue, more "musical" tone), while the modern marching drum gives a very high pitched "crack!". The problem that you are going to have is that soundfonts are usually pretty limited in the types of percussion noises they can make. A buzz roll may actually best be made if the sounfont has a buzz roll sample that can be looped. Most do not, so if you are looking for a buzz roll, your options are to search out and possibly pay for a commercial soundfont, write your own, or make due with imperfection during playback. The open roll sound on a marching drum can be emulated by getting your hands on a marching soundfont... I have created one that is available here:

As far as your note entry is concerned, I'm not entirely sure what you are describing. You may want to attach a screenshot (easy way... hit PrtScrn button and paste into MSPaint, then save as a jpeg) so we can see what is going on. Most likely, the program is simply inserting rests to make sure the measure is complete, so you will probably just have to keep experimenting to get used to the program functions.

Hope this helps! Good Luck!

Mike S.

In reply to by mschorsch


I am in my high school's drumline and like to write my own stuff....I would love to use MuseScore (easiest program I've tried)...but the sounds aren't really what I'm looking for. How can I write my own soundfont? I'm not too techy, but I could probably do it if there are any detailed instructions online or if you could help me out. How would I record the sounds of the drums? Could I just use the voice recorder on my phone to hit all the marching drums in my band room?


A little info about roll notation, from a percussionist:
The lines above the note that indicate a roll also indicate at what speed that roll should be played. Think of it as an easier way to write eighths, sixteenths, and 32nds. The lines are equivalent to the lines you'd see on any other note, and they indicate what speed you should play those notes at, for the duration of the note below them. For instance, a quarter note roll with 2 lines above it indicates that you should play 1 beat of straight sixteenth notes, 3 lines would indicate 1 beat of 32nds (a double-stroke roll), and, oddly enough, 1 line over a quarter note would indicate you play 2 eighth notes.
While it is rare to see notation other than the 3 lines of an open roll and the 'z' of a buzz roll, these notations do exist, and they mainly serve to save space for the composer (Though a composer who writes 1-line rolls is just lazy, IMO).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,
thanks, that's what I meant.
Anyway, there's no "Z" (buzz roll) in the palette (like this: ).

Btw, I'm trying to write an arrangement for a samba group (sorry, there's a term in Italian but I don't know how it is called in English... they are 20-30 people playing percussions). Since not all their instruments are in MuseScore (they play Agogò, Caixa, Ganzà, Repinique, Surdo, Tamborim, Timba...) I found more comfortable to use voice staves and reducing the number of lines as needed. When I needed to notate a buzz roll with a Z on the note stem, the first thing I did was looking if there was a "stem type" drop-down menu in "note properties" as there is a "notehead type" one. (Then I looked in the palettes too, but I didn't look well, or I didn't expect to find rolls in the tremolo palette, or i didn't recognise the signs from their icons... who knows :) )
Maybe, it would be a good idea to make tremolo/roll notation accessible from note properties too.

In reply to by ciacnorris

A few comments:

- Be sure you click the option at the bottom left of the instrument dialog to get the full listing of all instruments rather than just the most common ones. Of course, playback is still limited to whatever is supported by the particular soundfont you are using, but at least you'll see the names in the list.

- If the instrument you want is still not available,you're still probably better off using a percussion staff than a voice staff. Things like key signatures and so forth are not rerally relevant to drums and shouldn't be displayed, plus there are some specific things that work differently for drums you might want to take advantage of. But no real reason you *can't* use a voice staff, I guess.

- You should check a nightly build for 2.0 to see if any missing instruments have since been added, and if not, submit a feature request to add them.

- The symbol used for rolls is also used by other instruments, and "tremolo" is the more common name for the symbol. I supoose the word "rolls" could be added to the palette. But it definitely behaves like a palette symbol, not a stem type, so it needs to be in the palette somewhere.

- Really, lots of symbols might not appear where you'd first look, because people with different backgrounds and expectations might look different places. So there's really no substitute for reading documents, experimenting, and asking questions.

- The "z" symbol should indeed be present somewhere, and again, fi you don't find it in 2.0, you shoud consider submitting a feature request for it.

- "Drum line" woud be a colloquial term for the sort of percussion ensemble you describe, but really, most people who do are into that music would simply use the appropriate Portuguese term (eg, "bateria").

In reply to by Jm6stringer


Which of those rolls would I want for a timpani? The piece I'm writing is common time, slow, dark (low brass/low strings) and it would be sort of an introductory roll after three dotted-halfs of bells. (Provided I keep the timpani in at sounds good for now, though!)

if you want a drum to roll for the entire song you just go to repeats. The will be a symbol that looks like a diagonal division sign. If you put that in a measure it will play whatever you put in the previous measure.

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