Drum set notation question

• Apr 14, 2021 - 20:34

Hi All,
I am sure I just haven't read the correct area in the manual and all the videos I have seen are either for 2.0 version or not applicable.
In voice one of the drum set we have the hihat and the snare. I want the hihat to have a steady beat but the snare line is going to be all around those notes and independent of the hihat. By example, let's say the hihat is on the quarter notes only while the snare line is at times hitting with the hihat and mostly syncopated. I cannot get Musescore to have them work independently. What am I missing? Do I need to change the hihat to another voice?


When you tak about hihat, are you talking about sticks or pedal? Sticks would normally be notated in voice 1 along with the snare. It's pretty much always possible; you just need to work out in your head how to make the durations match. So for instance, if the snare plays four notes on the beat, but the hiat comes in playing sixteenths on beat three, you would notate the first two snare drum notes as quarters, but the ones on beats three and four would be sixteenths, to combine with the hihat:

Screenshot 2021-04-14 1.41.03 PM.png

If on the other hand you mean pedal hihat, then this is voice 2 indeed. And that's the default when adding that sound.

Screenshot 2021-04-14 1.41.58 PM.png

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you for the quick response. My intention is to have the hihat (Sticks) played by the right hand in a eighth note pattern while the left hand (snare) is playing all manner of sixteenth notes syncopated. Getting the hihat to stay eighths is not happening. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

In reply to by Cdzimmer

As I said, it's a matter of working out the rhythm you want in your head. museScore will be happy to do what you tell it to, but you've got to figure out what you want first. I showed in my example that the snare was actually notated as a sixteenth in some cases, even though "conceptually" it is a quarter note. In your case, sounds like it is the hihat you will notate as a sixteenth sometimes, even though conceptually it's an eighth. Once you can wrap your brain around it enough to be able to write it out by hand, then entering the same into MuseScore is trivial. The hard part is the mental part, same as it would be if you were doing this by hand.

In reply to by Cdzimmer

Here's a good strategy:

1) first write out the crazy syncopated snare part
2) for any quarter notes, change to eighth note followed by a rest
3) for any eighths that are syncopated (so, on the "e" of the beat), change to sixteenth followed by a rest
4) now you should have something - a note or a rest - on each half beat, so add the hihat to those spots


Screenshot 2021-04-14 3.10.28 PM.png

In reply to by Cdzimmer

There is one more method is somewhat laborious, but it's used:

Fill the hi-hat with sixteenth note values. (the smallest value you will use)

And add the instruments you want below (where required). // snare drum in the example

This and the next part is a bit troublesome:

Then delete the hi-hat's unnecessary hits. (with the "del" key on your keyboard).

Convert the Hi-hat hits before the positions with the "rest" symbol next to it after the deletion process to the required values. (eighth in the example)

Some older drum modules with a pattern writing function would work similarly.
You would fill in the places you want from 16 points, the rest would be blank (like step sequencer).

In reply to by Cdzimmer

If more than one instrument is to be written on the drum line at the same time, they should not be separate from each other, but together on the same beat as possible.

In the old days, we used to combine kick-drum with these and we thought this would be easier to understand. We would use a basic sixteenth or eights at the top and usually wouldn't write rests (In fact, some would write the rest-symbols too).
// When the Internet and computers are not yet in personal use in the world. And in a country at a time when access to English / French / Italian music books was also limited.

Later, it was agreed that it would be better to write the hands and feet separately.

But really putting another 3rd voice between the kick and the hi-hat just makes it complicated to read the notes, to see the instruments that are beating at the same time. //But if we had a three-dimensional note writing system, maybe we could do that.

The secret to writing drum notes is not to write more information to the drummer than is necessary. (A professional drummer really doesn't need much information on the score from basic A and B patterns, necessary syncopes, and extra fill-in positions - these fill-ins can even be specified in text.)
But if you are writing just to hear or simulate how it is played, of course you can ignore this last paragraph.

In reply to by Cdzimmer

You can do these separately, if you are willing to use separate voices for this, and teach youth people reading your score how to interpret it. Inventing new notations for standard things is always possible, but it's seldom advisable. There's no escaping the fact that writing drum music does make you think about how you want to represent your rhythms, that's been true since long before MuseScore.

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