Voice sizes and drum cue note sizing


Still in the learning process of Dorico after many years with Finale, and perhaps the biggest reason for leaving Finale was the lousy and time-consuming handling of drum cue notes. So I hope that Dorico does this better, but I can’t really make it work right now… First a question on size of voices: to achieve the following is not extremely difficult; select the notes to change and then use the scaling in the bottom panel.


But it is fairly tedious to select and resize, so hope there is a method for configuring the actual voice (preset) so that all notes entered in that voice assumes a certain size.

Second question: I want to set my drum cue notes to cue size (or some other size). Again, I can enter the notes, select them and resize (this example was done by adding a ‘slash instrument’ to the middle line of the percussion kit, and an upstem ‘tom’ on the top space).

But there are two problems, one is that rests do not seem to resize…??

And, the main question: how can I configure in a way that I easily can alternate between normal drum notation as in measure 1, with “normal” note sizes, and slash with cue notes as in measure 3 where the cue notes including rests already from the beginning are set to the selected size? In worst case that preset is not possible so that I will need to select and change size after input, how can I select only the cue notes (and not for instance the hihat notes, they should not be touched)?

This is something I need essentially every day…please make me happy :slight_smile: Thanks //DT

Hi Dan, if your cue notes are representing the music played by another player in the project, you can use Dorico’s in-built cues. However, you can’t currently show pitched cues on unpitched instrument staves (although you could give the percussionist e.g. a vibraphone and add the cues to that). Unpitched cues, as in your 2nd screenshot, would be fine though.

For a general introduction to cues, see this video.

No, it is not for sure that the drum cue notes are represented in any other staff. At least not exactly, or spread over multiple staves. Sometimes not at all. => I usually enter drum cue notes by hand. But this question was more about how to size them and how to preset this to make it simple and efficient over all working hours.

Of course, that’s what I was wondering as obviously using the cues feature would be a lot quicker than manually resizing notes! I suspect the rests won’t resize because rests on percussion kit staves are a bit different than on “normal” staves (if you search this forum for something like “delete percussion rests” you’ll find some discussions about it). So, it could be neatest in the long run to add notes you want to show as cues for the percussion to a separate player (that doesn’t have to appear in the full score or any other layout) that you then cue into the percussion part.

There is no way of presetting a size for a specific voice.
Wait until you’ve done the whole thing, using a voice that you don’t use anywhere else (you could call it Upstem Voice 2, for instance), then Select All (or select the first bar of the stave and go Edit > Select to End of Flow), Edit > Filter > Voices > Upstem Voice 2, then set the Size property once.

If there are instances where you need to apply this to a single bar or a single system, grab a note in the relevant voice and type Ctrl/Cmd-Shift-A (Edit > Select More). This will select all the notes in that voice in that bar. Type Ctrl/Cmd-Shift-A a second time to select all the notes in that voice in that system (which in Galley View will typically be the whole Flow). Type it a third time to select all the notes in that voice in the whole Flow, assuming you’re in Page View. Then set the Size property once.

(For some additional responses, see the Facebook post here)

Will the cue rests resize as well?

As far as I know, everything in cues is scaled down accordingly automatically.

Hmm. Is this something that changed recently? I’ve asked about this before and the sticking point has always been getting the cued rests (entered as a voice, not as cues from another part) to resize along with the notes.

Ah, I wasn’t sure from how you worded your last post - rests within cues scale automatically. You should be able to scale other rests manually but not on percussion kit staves.

Do you care about drum playback from your drum staff, or just notation? Dorico’s editing capability in percussion staves is somewhat crippled compared to normal staves. If you don’t care about drum playback, then don’t use a percussion staff for the drum set. I often end up using a normal staff with a percussion clef for drum notation so I can have everything display correctly, and then a hidden percussion staff where I don’t care about notation for playback. It’s a bit kludgy, but that way I never have to worry about running into a percussion staff limitation.

That’s what I thought. I know I’m repeating myself (as I’ve posted about this before), but this should be addressed. Like the original poster, I too often enter cues for jazz drums manually. Cues in jazz drums are not like cues in an orchestra score. They are not about “this is what trumpet 1 is doing” or “this is what alto 3 is doing”. It’s more about “this is generally what’s going on in the horn section”. Which instrument is playing the lick is not important, and the rhythmic cue could be constantly moving throughout the horn section making the orchestral cueing mechanism awkward to use in this case.

Drum rests are being addressed. See can't get rid of these drumset rests!.. - #5 by dspreadbury for instance.


Yes I agree. Drum cue notes are different from cue:s in e. g. an opera score or a symphony orchestra. And they do not necessarily match something else exactly. Examples:

  • Brass section is playing many notes in some bars, say 8ths or 16ths, and I want the drums to mark certain of these but absolutely not all of them. For this situation (in my charts not uncommon) the cue functionality would not be apt to use. I want to enter the cue notes myself.
  • Some cues come from trombones, others from trumpets or saxes; also in the same measure. Again, the cue functionality would not be apt. I want to enter the cue notes myself. Not just “need to” - I want to decide myself. Also, articulations from horns should never follow to drum cue notes, at least not in my charts. And again, I want to be able to preset cue note size and enter them very easily without need of copying from a ghost staff.

Yes I start to get the same feeling - that using drum/percussion staff for drums is causing more trouble than it helps. What I don’t understand is why. Wouldn’t it be a great idea that the users feel that they really want to use a dedicated drum/percussion type of staff to get support for their specific drum/percussion needs? And that using a “common” type would not be desirable, since you then don’t get that specific support…? Here it seems to be a little bit upside down.

The “why” is that percussion kits are effectively condensed staves. Under the hood each kit instrument has its own single line staff, and Dorico then condenses these down to a single five line staff (if that’s the representation you’ve asked for in Layout Options > Players > Percussion). This allows the flexibility to represent percussion kits in different layouts in different ways, which can be really helpful in some circumstances, but it does mean that, for the time being, rests can’t be edited because they don’t really exist. On regular staves rests don’t really exist either, but there’s an obvious place for explicit rests to be stored, so if you need to reduce the size or move them up or down, it’s easy to make implicit rests explicit. On five-line percussion staves there isn’t an obvious place for explicit rests to exist, as on the underlying single line staves the formation of rests may be completely different.

For instance, in this (contrived) scenario, you’d probably want to split the eighth rest into two 16th rests. As you can see on the single-line version, no individual kit instrument actually has an 8th rest there, so there’s nothing to make explicit. The rest shown in the five-line staff is merely padding.


Ok thanks for the explanation. But if the shortcomings are so great that people obviously consider to revert to not using the drum/percussion staves for drums or percussion…?

Thanks for the details. As a retired programmer, I always enjoy the “why”. The ability for a “drum set” to be represented this way is a very orchestral-centric way of thinking. There’s no doubt that, in an orchestral setting, one would want the flexibility to combine the individual percussion instruments in various way, and even change it around depending on available percussionists. But that metaphor breaks down for a typical rock/jazz drum kit. They are thought of more as a single instrument with some notational quirks (like upstem for hands, downstem for feet etc). To extend the metaphor, it would be like considering a clarinet to be a collection of three instruments (one representing each register) instead of a single instrument. I’m guessing most people would be happy with an ordinary 5 line staff that had notehead and stem direction defaults for the various “pitches” and played back properly. More of a regular staff with intelligent assist, instead of a unique entity that doesn’t quite model the instrument.

From a notation point of view a five-line staff may be easier to work with (certainly at the moment). From a playback point of view it’s nice to have the possibility of bringing in extra instruments from different VSTs, which (I’m guessing) wouldn’t be possible with a single “instrument”.

For an orchestral setting, certainly. From a rock/jazz drumset that’s unlikely.