"Rails" as a Solution for Percussion Instrument Changes (Pitched/Unpitched)

• Mar 30, 2018 - 09:28

I have been thinking quite a lot about how we can support instrument changes for percussion to include mixing pitched and non-pitched percussion responsibilities for a single performer.

While quite common in orchestral percussion, such instrument changes in musical theatre percussion or front ensemble percussion in marching groups are essential. For example:


In trying to come up with an effective solution for this, I started thinking about the actual physical construction and organization of these instruments, for example on the frame of a marimba is a rail which you can attach another instrument.

Using this metaphor, I came up with the concept of a "rail" added to a pitched percussion staff. This rail functions quite literally the same as the rail on an instrument frame might, enabling the ability to add and switch between nearly any non-pitched percussion instrument.


Propose to add "rails" to default templates for mixed pitched/unpitched percussion scenarios.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I propose that that this becomes a standard for MuseScore and that default templates be changed to include this for:
- Concert Orchestra
- Concert Band
- Small Concert Band
- Marching Band
- Small Marching Band
- Large Pit Percussion
- Small Pit Percussion

Also that "Rail" is added as a percussion instrument.

Aside from defining the "Rail" instrument in instruments.xml, you're basically talking about just modifying existing templates to include a new instrument above each relevant staff - to do the same as the user can already do if they add the instrument manually? People adding Xylophone manually from the instrument list wouldn't get this automatically? And there would still be two staves for the instrument throughout the score unless you use Hide empty staves?

I'm not opposed to this, seems harmless enough; just wanting to make sure I understand the scope.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I would suggest that it would be both redundant and insufficient to add the rail to several pitched instruments. Redundant because a user can already do this and you would then have two Xylophones, Marimbas, Vibes... You would also double the number of templates with the problem of naming the new ones in certain sections. It would be insufficient because you in all likelihood you would miss an instrument and the issue tracker would be filled with, "Add Rail+Glockenspiel" and such requests for pitched percussion instruments that were not included.

My solution for a compromise would be to do this as a generic instrument that can be added from the instruments list call "Pitched Percussion with Rail" The sound can default to Xylophone and Splash Cymbal or whatever you want. Just document this in the percussion section of the handbook with instructions on how to use it. I know people don't read the handbook already, but at least we will have done what we can to explain it.

In reply to by mike320

I'm only suggesting to add these to specific templates.

If you would add a marimba or xylophone to a score, it would be only a marimba or xylophone. But, in the specific templates, like marching band, these would be grouped as a marimba with a rail above it, for example.

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