Repeat bars, slash and rhythmic notation
In this blogpost I’ll take you through repeat bars and slash notation. As in previous posts, I’ll cover plugins and built-in features that will really speed up your workflow when creating drum set parts.
Let’s face it, most drum set parts consist of a lot of repetition. The drums create that steady undercurrent that moves the piece along. If you want the drummer to play exactly the same pattern over and over, the best way is to use repeat bars.
It’s easy to do this in Sibelius | Ultimate. You simply select the bars you want to designate as repeat bars and press keypad “5”.
You can click on the symbol or on your numeric keypad type “1” for one bar repeat, “2” for bar repeat, or “4” for bar repeat. Music notation purists will tell you a four bar repeat is incorrect notation, but I’ve seen it come in handy many times in real world charts—especially arrangements for live performance.
If you look at the example above, you’ll see a number in parenthesis (2, 3, etc.) over the bars. This helps the drummer see at a glance how many times the figure is repeated.
The parameters of this feature are defined in the Engraving Ruleson the “Bar Rests” page. You can set your one bar repeats to be numbered every 1, 2, 3, 4, or 8th bar. For most drum charts it’s less cluttered to number the bar every four or eight bars.
Underneath the table are new options to this release that are now also present when you import a MIDI file and MusicXML file. These allow you to control the preview on the right hand side. For very large scores, importing can take a second or so for each assignment, so you can now untick “Generate Preview after every change”, and you will notice that the score preview is blurred out. Now each assignment is instant, and you can click “Generate Preview” to check on progress.
The other bonus with this type of notation in Sibelius | Ultimate is that it plays it back too. So, if you play your score the drum pattern will repeat the specified number of times.
Slash notation bars
Next on the list is slash notation. This type of notation is used when the arranger wants to let the drummer continue a pattern with the freedom to vary it, or when the arranger really doesn’t have an exact drum pattern in mind and is leaving all the details up to the drummer. In Sibelius | Ultimate, this type of notation is created by placing quarter notes on the midline of the staff and then changing the noteheads to “beat no stem.” This is easy enough to do, but not particularly efficient. But there is a faster way to fill 1 or 1000 bars quickly with this type of notation.
You will need to install the Fill selection with Slash Notes plugin from File>Plugins>Install>All plugins>Notes and Rests. With this plugin you can create as many bars of slash notation in as many bars you need in one move. The plugin works on other rhythm section parts as well and will put the slashes on the midline no matter the clef or key.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, select the bars you want to fill (blue box) and then go to the Plug-ins menu (or use your keyboard shortcut) and select the Fill selection with Slash Notes. This window will come up:
Click “OK” and you are done! If you have this plugin on a keyboard shortcut you can really fly through this type of notation in rhythm parts. For this situation the defaults are just fine, but you can explore other plugin options for other situations.
Sibelius | Ultimate ships with the Number Bars plugin. Just like with repeated bars, if a drummer sees a page full of slash bars, he will appreciate some numbering so he can see the form at a glance.
To number the bars, select the slash bars you want to number and then go to Text Tab>Plug-ins>Text>Number Bars and this window will come up:
I normally use these settings as I like to number every fourth bar and have the numbering reset at double bars. You can adjust the parameters to your needs.
Click “OK” and you get this:
This lets you set up the bar numbering for an entire drum part in one move—pretty cool and your drummer will thank you!
Rhythmic notation bars
Similar to Slash notation bars, with rhythmic notation the arranger is giving the drummer freedom to use his discretion as to what to play. The difference is that the arranger defines the rhythmic pattern on which the drummer bases his decision. These rhythms are usually based on an ensemble figure or a strong rhythmic element stated somewhere in the ensemble. Like Slash notation, this type of notation is created by inputting the rhythm on the midline of the staff and changing the noteheads, but this time to “Beat,” which includes a stem on the notes. But as you may have guessed by now, there is a plugin that will do this for you.
You install the plugin Move Pitches to Transposed Midline at File>Plugins>Install>All plugins>Notes and Rests. With this plugin you can create as many bars of rhythmic notation in as many bars you need in one move. The plugin works on other rhythm section parts as well and will put the slashes with stems on the midline no matter what the clef or key.
For this example, the right hand of the piano part has the rhythmic figure I want to represent in the drum part.
Select the bars in the treble staff and copy into the drum part and you’ll have this:
If you’ve use opt click to copy, there will still be a blue selection box around the bars. If not, click on the bars so they are selected. Now go to the Plug-ins menu and find the Move Pitches to Transposed Midline plugin. This window will come up. The defaults work for most case, experiment with the parameters as you like.
Click “OK” and you get this:
Pretty slick, eh? Notice the plugin deleted the extra notes in the chord and has moved everything to the midline. It works just as well on single note phrases as chords.
In the next post in this series, I will cover cues in drum set parts.