Drums & Percussion symbols

Hello Daniel,

Congratulations on Dorico, it looks exciting!

Just wondering if the first release will include drums & Percussion symbols, as well as mapping !?


We still have a lot of work to do in the area of unpitched percussion at this stage. We have lots of grand plans and have done a lot of the research required into instruments, their playing techniques, and the notations used for those techniques. I hope to be able to share some more details about this once we have got more of it working, so please watch this space.

Thanks Daniel, I look forward to downloading the trial version anyway!

Do you have any idea how long it will take to have basic drum set symbols working ?

Just trying to figure out if I need to renew my Sibelius 7.1.3 at all
If I choose to do so, for how long (one years or three years)

I anticipate that we will have basic percussion support either in the first release or shortly afterwards. If Sibelius 7.1.3 is working OK for you now, I would guess that it’s unlikely it will stop working for you any time soon. (FWIW that’s the version of Sibelius I am still using when I need to use something other than Dorico, and I’m not planning on upgrading it.)

Thanks Daniel, I couldn’t find any clear information on the Sibelius forum.
For now 7.1.3. works well for me, so I’m following your advice.
Thank you very much !

Any advancement in this realm?

I have become used in Sibelius to having one stave per percussion instrument and my current Sibelius configuration has over 40 percussion staves, hidden when not in use. I do this because achieving correct playback is very difficult when instruments share a staff. I then make a percussion part from all those staves edited to be as user friendly as possible, hiding instruments not in use on each system. For instance my Tam-tam VST (I have the VSL XXL Tam-tam) has many different possible ways of striking the gong. I save each of these as a separate staff so that I don’t have to fish around trying to make the sound correct when I use it.
It makes life simple, but if you show all the staves in the score at once it totals nearly 80 staves!

Hello Daniel,

Congratulations on the Dorico release, it still looks very much exciting, although I read a few complaints.
The polymeter capability is something I’ve been wishing since Notator on my Atari in 1987 :wink:

I haven’t bought Dorico yet, but I’m sure I will, very soon!

Can you briefly let me know what is the state of development for percussion support at the moment?
I read that “more flexible unpitched percussion notation” is announced, but what is possible right now?

I know you must be very busy, so a simple link will do if there’s anything posted about this!


I’m afraid it’s not in as good shape as I predicted in July! You’re basically OK with single-line percussion, in as much as you can enter notes and change notehead styles, etc., but there’s basically no percussion playback, and you can’t do anything sensible with a five-line unpitched percussion staff, either drum kit or orchestral/band percussion. We have a lot of work to do on percussion and we will try to get onto it very soon, though I suspect we won’t be significantly further forward by the time the trial is available in a few weeks. Please be assured that percussion notation is a very high priority, though.

Thanks Daniel, I’ll be patient and will download the trial when it is available. II will see what’s possible and I won’t bother you again until then!
At the moment, Sibelius 7.5.1 can still do what I need to do everyday, so no big deal.
I just hope that the crossgrade price will still be available when I can make a decision !

I guess the difficulty is that everyone thinks the sort of notation they require is a “key function”. Personally, I never write for drumset, so the unpitched percussion functionality currently available is OK. I am missing other features instead.

There comes a point where you have to release what you have.

The Dorico website does state that unpitched percussion is currently limited and will be enhanced in a free update: http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/dorico/what_is_dorico.html

Go old school, until the percussion notation / combined instruments have been fully implemented.


No, I’m afraid not. You won’t need to come back here and post in this thread after every update to let us all know that you know there’s still no drum set notation. You can rest assured that when we have done work on this, we will include full details in the information we release about the update. We don’t expect people to have to guess whether or not we have added a feature to the application, so we provide full details of every single change we make.

I know it’s frustrating not to have all of the features that you could possibly want already present in the software, and I’m sorry for that.

The lack of flexibility in drum notation is causing me a major problem, and I wonder if anyone can help with advice/workarounds.
Currently I can emulate drum kit notation using a tuned instrument by changing noteheads and instrument names.
If I change the clef to a percussion clef, all the notes end up on the centre line, which is no good.
If I save to pdf, I have a workaround where I can edit the pdf’s to change the clef. This is very time consuming, but possible.
I can also delete the key signature from ‘drum kit’ line in the pdf’s, which works in the score, but in the drum parts leaves a gap at the beginning of every stave!
Also, I can’t group, and therefore bracket the instruments properly, as my percussion lines are different groups of instruments (one tuned and the others single line percussion).
ALL the problems would go away if we could simply change the clef to a percussion clef without all the notes moving to the centre line (please Daniel???)
Failing that, how can I create one instrument with no KS (the one on which I emulate my drum kit) to eliminate my spacing problem, and I’ll do all the time consuming editing in the pdf’s. I want to produce all my scores in Dorico, there are so many fantastic features which would save me hours of work every single day.
Or is there an easier way of achieving the result I’m looking for?

Have you tried doing independent key signatures? I cannot begin to tell you how this is done, but I believe you can create multiple instruments all with different key signatures, so put your “drum set” instrument in the key of C.


You can also go “old-school” as Villi has said above, and use the bass clef for percussion notation. While this is not ideal, it is a common practice from years ago, and many, many books use it. Just a thought…


Thanks for the reply Robby. I have searched to try to find out how to do independent key signatures, but failed to work it out. We are a small publisher, known for the quality of our engraving, and so we really can’t adopt outdated notation. I would be very happy to continue using our previous notation program, but Dorico is saving so much time in cleaning up composers submissions that we’d be mad not to go as far as we can to use it fully. It really is a fantastic program, you’d understand if you were looking over my shoulder, but since the last update with the introduction of independent movement of staves, we are sooooo close!
We just need to be able to notate a drum kit effectively

You can create an independent key signature as follows: make sure nothing is selected in the score; click the key signature button to create the key signature you want to create, then hold the Alt key as you click at the start of the staff where you want the key signature to go.

Paul, I might be able to perform a somewhat inelegant hack on one of your projects in order to enable the use of the percussion clef as a pitched clef, instead of using e.g. the treble clef with the 15 below it. If you want to email me one of your projects I can give this a try. My email address is d dot spreadbury at steinberg dot de.

Hi Daniel, I know you’re probably swamped at the moment. Is this ‘inelegant hack’ still possible? I have a project I’ve done entirely in Dorico, and I’d rather not export to another program JUST for a clef.
Would the hack be easier, or simply an invisible clef and a graphic overlaid after?