Drum Set Notation in Sibelius: Part 5

Combination notation and cues

In this blog I’ll be covering two topics:

  1. Combination notation, where a bar is partially slash notation and partially notated with notes and rests
  2. Various methods of cueing in drum set parts

Note: I will recommend a couple of plugins in this post. You will find them both under File>Plug-ins>install plug-ins>Notes & Rests. If you need a refresher on installing plugins see my previous post in this series.


Combining full and slash notation

As you can see from this example above, sometimes you have bar that is fully notated for part of the bar and then goes to slashes for some reason—in this case a fill. One way to do this is to notate the bars as needed and then notate slashes by putting notes on the midline and changing the notehead. The snag is that you end up with this:

You’ve got rests in voice 2 that really need to be hidden. You could select each rest and hide them individually, but there is a faster way by using the plugin Hide Rests in Voice.

To start, select the part of the bars that you need to hide rests in (in this case beats 3 and 4 of the first bar and beats 1-3 of the second bar). Your selection should look like this:

That’s it, you’ve hidden the rests in voice 2 and those bars look great!

But as you may have guessed there is even a faster way. If you have slash notation bars already in the staff, select the number of slashes you need, in this case five. Now opt click the rest on beat 3 of the first measure in my example and the slashes will be pasted in with the rests in voice 2 already hidden.


Sometimes the simplest way to add a cue is a piece of text. I would recommend using technique text.

But for other situations, more information is required. With a help of a handy plugin and some builtin features in Sibelius, that is easy to do.


Cues for kicks

If you do any big band or pit band arranging you are probably familiar with the technique of cueing horn section figures in the drum set part for “kicks.”  The drummer reads the rhythms and creates a drum pattern to accent and support what is being played by the horns. The horn section rhythms appear above the top line of the staff as cue sized notes and rests along with slashes (beat no stem) on the mid line of the staff. It’s not difficult to create but it will take quite a few steps. With Drums Cues plugin you can achieve all of this in 2 steps.

Here’s an example of a trumpet staff and a drum set staff. The trumpet staff has the notes and rests that represent the phrase you want to show in the drum set part. Copy the trumpet phrase into the drum set part, using copy and paste or opt/click method.

Now run the Drum cues plugin. This great plugin allows you to choose, notehead style, slash notehead style, cues above on the top staff line or bottom staff line and more.  These are settings I use for a brass cue.

And the plugin creates this in the drum set part:

Cues for navigation

There are often situations where there is no conductor, or perhaps the conductor is also playing piano or it is just clearer to notate an instrumental or a vocal line into the drum set part to clarify the situation. For example, maybe the vocalist takes great liberties with the time of a phrase and your drummer really needs to know that the drums start time is right after the word “is.”  Sibelius makes this type of cueing pretty easy.

Let’s assume that you have the vocal part written on a separate staff on the score.

Select the vocal line you wish to use as a cue and use the keystroke Cmd C to copy.  Next click on the drum set staff where you want it to end up and go to Home>Clipboard>Paste>Paste as Cue or use the key stroke shown here:

And Sibelius creates the cue sized notes for you with text indicating which staff the cue originated on.

As you can see in my example above, I changed the text to read “vocal cue” and I moved the whole measure rest up out of the staff. There are several parameters you can setup for the paste as cue command. You will find them under the menu File>Preferences>Paste as Cue.

That wraps up my Drum Set Notation Sibelius | Ultimate tutorial series. I hope you found it useful—now go write some great drum set parts!

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.