Dorico - Custom Percussion Staves for Rock Drums


Hoping for some help on custom drum staves.

Goal: I want a few custom percussion staves to write for my drum kit VSTi (BFD2.) Specifically, I’m trying to create one now for several different cymbals, all of which I’d like to be able to write for on a single stave: 2 crash cymbals, 1 china, and one 1 ride cymbal (but need to be able to distinguish between ride cymbal normal attacks and playing on the cymbal’s bell.)

Quick background: I’ve been using Sibelius for a long time, and have recently switched to Dorico. I remember Sibelius back before the whole Sound World thing started, and IIRC the way Sibelius handled custom percussion staves back then was just perfect and simple: pick a line or space, pick a note head, then pick a MIDI note. Done. (And this approach was easy to learn.)

After Sibelius’ move to Sound World, the only way to create custom staves as I needed them was to download a percussion kit/stave editor from their website and go through a special process to set things up… I cannot remember all the steps BUT I did finally get it to work, and for years had a near perfect setup for drums, including a custom stave for hi-hat that enabled total control over which level of hi-hat openness I wanted (e.g., tight, quarter open, half-open, etc.) as well as whether I wanted to attack with a tip or shank (I used note heads for the tip/shank.) It was a near perfect setup and did just what I wanted: I could write for the entire drum set using staves that made sense to me.

Now I’m trying to do the same thing with Dorico.

After watching YouTube videos, reading the forum, reading the help docs, experimenting, etc… somehow I’ve managed to get a number of staves set up including one for hi-hat (though I don’t understand why Dorico is inserting rests where I don’t want them?) I’ve got the kick working, the snare, and the toms… so nearly there.

Where I’m stuck is on the Cymbal stave - and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, and feel like I’m drowning in documentation trying to fulfill a use-case that, I’m guessing, is not common.

I’ve attached a short “score” (really just a working doc to try to get drums set up.) I’d really appreciate some help as I still feel confused. Like… if I ever get this set up I won’t want to touch these features again if I can avoid it.

For the Cymbal stave, I’d like to have:

  • Crash cymbals on the top line, with the ability to differentiate which I played based on the note head
  • China on its own line
  • Ride on its own line, with the ability to switch between regular edge hit and bell hit based on note head.

Drum Test - adding cymbals.dorico (655.0 KB)

I don’t own BFD, so I cannot go through the whole process of providing you with a full working file.
You might want to check out what is there
Drum Test - adding cymbals.dorico (642.0 KB)
The last step, and probably the most important, is to build a working percussion map for BFD and apply it to your players in Play mode.

Thanks for the reply. One small mistake I made was I had not set the new Cymbal staff to use the Percussion Map I was updating.

So, there are three basic areas to configure:

  1. The Setup area, where the Percussion Kit
  2. The Percussion Map (within the Library menu)
  3. The Play tab, where the Percussion Map must be assigned to the Kit

Now, one thing I don’t quite understand: In the Percussion Kit setup I configured the ride cymbal so that if an “x” note head is used that would represent the “Bell” technique, and then I was able to map the Bell technique for this instrument in the Percussion map. That works - regular note head is a regular “hit” on the cymbal, and an “x” note head attacks the Bell. This works.

But I noticed I could go straight to the Percussion map and use the “Accent” playing technique to map to the ride cymbal “edge” attack. (This is useful - it sounds quite different.) Now this works fine in notation - if I put an accent symbol on a regular note head I get this new sample/sound, which is great. But my question is: why is the “Accent” playing technique even referenced in the percussion kit setup if I don’t need to use it for the percussion map setup? Is it because these are common? I see that techniques are referenced in both the Kit setup and the Map setup… this is confusing to me at the moment.

Thinking through this… I guess the reason we cannot map directly from the Percussion Kit (Staff) setup to MIDI notes is because we want the flexibility to define different intermediate percussion maps which could then be switched to accommodate different VSTi instruments? (The other way to handle that would be to just have libraries of different percussion staves, I suppose.)