Voice sizes and drum cue note sizing

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.

Yes, I completely agree! This is often quite the opposite of what is needed for a drum set in a jazz context. Sure, when writing for a middle school band, you’ll need to depict everything with notation. For college and professional bands, there is often little or no actual drum notation and everything is conveyed with text, slashes, and cues.

For example, here’s most of the first page of a drum part I wrote in December:

There is no actual drum notation, just text, slashes, and cues, yet it was performed perfectly by a professional drummer with no further input from me, and recorded virtually by everyone individually with no rehearsals. Here’s the YouTube video for anyone interested.

All that notation is very standard and can be found in virtually any drum part, yet is impossible in a percussion staff in Dorico because the rests can’t be easily edited in the bars with 1-bar repeats. Before someone chimes in not to use 1-bar repeats if it isn’t really the same, this is very standard drum set notation, where you use 1-bar repeats to indicate that the basic pattern or groove is the same, and then the drummer can play off the hits as they choose. So I’m left with repurposing another non-percussion instrument to notate for drum set.

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Yup, that’s pretty much what my charts look like. The one bar repeats (with cues) are also useful because most notation programs will give you a repeat count (like the (8) right before rehearsal “E”) making it easier for the drummer to keep track of the bars.

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Same here. This is what should be easy to write :slight_smile:

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but as a feature request I’d really love to have the option to show the repeat count on only the last bar of a series of 1-bar repeats, rather than having to always edit the Count Frequency property settings. On drum parts I always use it as you mentioned so the drummer doesn’t have to count, so it would be nice if Dorico could do this automatically.

And - of course “multimeasure play”. Mark e. g. 13 bars, select the “multimeasure play” functionality and the 13 bars are replaced with one bar with an editable label “Play 13”. Oh how much time this would save me, and how many drummers who would be happy about less page turns <3

You can pretty much do this now. Just turn on this setting in Layout Options for that part:

You can set the Alpha Channel to 0 to make the 1-bar repeat and count invisible and then add your own text. Here the 3 is the default, and the “Play 12” I did with text and Alpha Channel 0.

Good to know. So the step to make this an official function is - as I would have guessed - a very tiny leap :slight_smile: Thanks//D

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