Accidentals in percussion (timbales) notation?

I had a thought to re-create the timbales notation used in a method book by Victor Rendon.

As shown in the attached image, it uses a sharp sign for the muted sound of the low timbale and a natural sign to cancel it and return to un-muted sound.

Am I correct that accidentals aren’t allowed in Dorico’s percussion notation? If it is allowed, how do I do it?

Rendon’s books have been around for almost 30 years, so I though this might be standard.

But then I found that the late Chuck Silverman, in a book he co-wrote with Cuban timbales master Changuito, used a very different key with no accidentals (see 2d image). This is probably the better way to do it.

Either way, unless I missed something, Dorico’s default timbales notation does not capture the full range of timbales sounds/techniques used in Latin music.


That seems a little idiosyncratic, but I’m no timbales player. What happens when you have a muted low followed by an open low? Does it always follow the usual pitched rule that the sharp needs to be cancelled by an explicit natural?

Off the top of my head I guess you might be able to do something whereby you create two custom notehead sets that have accidentals attached to the left side of the notehead. I’m not entirely sure whether it would space correctly, and it might be a totally disastrous idea if you ever need these with upstems rather than downstems.

I edited the post to explain this right around the time you posted!

The natural sign cancels the muted sound and returns to the un-muted sound. The problem is that there’s already another way of notating that un-muted low drum: the same pitch with no accidental. That seems unnecessarily complicated when you could use a different notehead for the muted sound.

Thanks for the suggestion, but as you said, the Rendon notation is indeed idiosyncratic. I’ll go with the Silverman notation.

I’ve worked with some master timbaleros, but I’m 99.9% certain they’ve never dealt with notation in such detail - it would be superfluous at best, and possibly slow them down. When I make charts for them, they only need “time” and rhythm breaks; they know how to orchestrate their parts on the kit.

If I create a kit in Dorico, it’ll be for educational materials and/or arrangement mock-ups using a Latin percussion sample library with sufficient detail to reproduce all the different sounds.