Drum set problem

The drum set only excepts one note of ‘B’ unable to enter any other pitch just the middle line of B ?


Yes, I’m afraid unpitched percussion notation is in a very rudimentary state. It’s basically working for single-line instruments, but not for compound instruments like drum kits. We did try to make this clear on the page that lists the features not included in this version of Dorico, but I understand you might not have spotted it. I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused by not yet having unpitched percussion notation working as well as you and many others require.

I’m in the middle of the Caribbean using the ships WIFI to keep up with Dorico…

I have a question about creating a drum set part. For years in Finale I would create a blank 5 line staff. Usually playing back on a piano sound. I would then add the notes to look like a drum set part, changing note heads, etc. it would look right, but playback was on a piano.

Is something similar able to be done in Dorico? I don’t remember seeing “blank staff” as a possible instrument.


You could create any old pitched instrument, like a Bagpipes or something, and change its name to be Drum Kit, then stick an unpitched percussion clef on it, and input notes that look like drum notation, sure. Of course it won’t play back in any sensible fashion!

No probs with the drums then if they are going to be sorted… In the playback page there is no ‘time line’ scrolling and as a result it’s difficult to see were I am etc…

I tried that work around too, but for proper drum set notation you need two independent voices (stems up for the first voice and stems down for the second). I wasn’t able to do this yet in Dorico, or at least didn’t figured it out.
I keep on waiting patiently for the official update.

See the new FAQ thread for help with writing in multiple voices.


I tried this trick yesterday, and I got odd results.

I selected Xylophone, didn’t display the name, then changed the clef. After changing the clef, it only let me put put notes on the middle line.

I’ll play around with it some more today.


It unfortunately looks like, at the moment, that applying either of the percussion clefs to a staff reverts all already inputted notes to the center line, and doesn’t allow for entry of any other pitches (“percussion mode”?). So looks like at the moment only way to input drum set notation and go old school, using bass clef instead:
(which is a valid OG choice, as shown in this excerpt from Clinton Roemer’s hand copying bible The Art Of Music Copying)

What is the timeline on being able to do unpitched percussion properly? I have just started using dorico, and I’m hopeful, but as a percussionist and drumkit player I’m really keen to have it working

You could create any old pitched instrument, like a Bagpipes or something, and change its name to be Drum Kit, then stick an unpitched percussion clef on it, and input notes that look like drum notation, sure. Of course it won’t play back in any sensible fashion!

Changing the clef of the Vibraphone (for example) to the percussion one, constraints the notes on the middle line.

So, percussion clef seems to constraint all to the middle line: nothing changes even if I select an instrument that seems to allow a range (e.g. Tom-tom medium-low).

Is the actual behavior or have some settings to be modified?


Dorico 1.0.30

At the moment I type ‘invisible’ in the popover and then don’t use a clef at all.
Right-click for the different noteheads and no I don’t worry about playback on that part at the moment.

I haven’t tried this in Dorico yet, but I remember back in the very early days of Sibelius we had a trick:

  1. Give each kit piece his own single line stave.
  2. In what would be the equivalent of Dorico’s Engrave mode (settings/ features), we squished the staves really close together, then went about hiding things that didn’t look right where possible (I.E. all the clefs and bar lines but the ones in the center most stave).

In Dorico, one can hide many things by opening the bottom panel in “Write Mode”, selecting the object you want to hide, toggling the ‘color’ switch, clicking the sample swatch, and then choosing an Alpha setting of 0.

The ‘squished’ single staves wasn’t perfect by any means…and we couldn’t put stuff in the ‘spaces’ of our simulated multi-line stave, but it was good enough to get the point across. We issued it to many marching band bass drum and multi-tom lines for more than a year. They never had problems reading it.

As for the ‘playback’…
Do be aware that in the Play Tab you can change the instrument in HALion Sonic SE.

You could load up a drum kit (no matter what ‘instrument’ you chose when setting up your Flows/Players/Instruments).

Next, inside HALion itself, you can Click the “MIDI” Tab and then adjust the ‘transpose’ value until the kit piece you want falls under the right key for play back).

Also, if you’re using a plugin other than Sonic SE for your drum sounds, and it’s something that will not let you transpose/remap…you can use a Dorico ‘expressionmap’ to do the MIDI transposition. I.E. If sliding the whole keyboard down 4 half steps would give you the kit-piece, then make that your “Natural” technique in an Expression Map (set a transposition value of 4, which would virtually shift the whole keyboard 4 MIDI notes to the left; conversely, entering -4 should shift it to the right)…and you’re good to go (assuming expression map transposition is functional…haven’t needed to try it personally yet).

i really like the look of Dorico and it brings many great features to music notation software. I downloaded the trial version and am very impressed with he engrave and layout options which will be excellent for worksheets and even instructional books. My only concern is that I primarily write for drum set and untuned percussion so was unable to fully test and run my music.

I realise that timelines are hard to judge for the release of features, my concern is the cut off date for a cross grade from Sibelius as its coming up soon and currently the Dorico software is unusable for me. Will this be extended to cater for such scenarios? Also, will there be extended trail periods to be able to test the software when the ability to incorporate drum set and untuned percussion is released?


I can’t say whether or not the current crossgrade period will be extended: it has already been extended once, from the end of March to the end of June, and I don’t expect we will continue to extend it indefinitely. We have committed to including support for unpitched percussion in a free update, so you can buy the crossgrade with confidence knowing that the percussion features you need will be added without you needing to purchase anything further.

As for new trial periods, yes, you will be able to have another trial later on after further updates have been released.

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your response and the information regarding the cross over final date. With regards to the inclusion of drums/unpitched percussion in Dorico, I’ve just noticed on the Sibelius Blog site that there is a significant update coming out soon and there was no mention of drums/unpitched percussion as a part of this. Dorico has been out for a while now and has many great features and updates happening yet it appears that having a full set of instrumentation available for composers including the drums/unpitched percussion is still not a part of the compositional software.

I’m wondering what sort of priority this instrument set will have within the Dorico environment. I have a Doctorate in composition for drumset/untuned percussion and teach many students composition, not just for this instrument set but how to write and notate for drums/unpitched percussin within ensembles. As the cut off date for the cross over upgrade looms, I would like to ask what level of focus will Dorico have for drums/untuned percussion as current updates and those to come seem to have it lower in the priority list, and if it will come out fully feature with new inventive features (which is why it’s release has been delayed) or if Dorico’s focus will be to have competent system which will do the job but no really developing features which would separate it it from existing applications such as Sibelius?

Thanks for your understanding with the questions as it is a concern with regards to purchasing the software and where the companies focus may lay for what would be my main intended use of the application.

Having paid for Dorico full price since day one, I can tell you one thing : if Daniel says it will be implemented, then it will be — and the best possible way. And since it is supposed to be included in the versions that will not require to pay an extra fee for upgrade, it means that the priority is really high — just guessing, though :wink:

Prioritising what we should be working on at any given moment is, I think, the most difficult problem that we have to manage in developing Dorico.

At the start of the year, when we planned out the update that will be coming within the next few weeks and will be called Dorico 1.1, we had to make some tough decisions about what we would work on. Chord symbols and unpitched percussion are features of similar complexity and we decided that we could not work on both of them at once if we were going to be able to deliver updates that addressed a wider range of user needs as quickly as possible. For the first two months of the year, half the team were working on chord symbols while the other half worked on the improvements that were released in Dorico 1.0.30 at the end of February. Despite everybody on the team working on chord symbols at various times over the past few months, the feature has taken longer than expected to build, though we are now very close to having it done.

Unpitched percussion is the highest priority feature area for the update that will follow this upcoming one. We do have plans to make unpitched percussion notation work better than it does in competing programs and I am looking forward to the team getting started on this work. I will be able to share more about the specifics of what we will be building once we have sat down and planned the work out in detail as a team.

BTW, will Dorico 1.1 be a paid update?

If I understand well, 1.1 will not be a paid update, nor the next one (with percussion notation).