Split Cymbal Parts....


I got my copy of V-Drumline and the midi keyboard and within 4 hours I'm off and running with it. Its a great program and idea. Only one concern I have with it. I usually write for 4 or 5 cymbal players and split their parts up just like the bassline. How can I accomplish this with Virtual Drumline?

Joe Schroeck
Glad to hear you are digging Virtual Drumline. I know it's definitely changed the way I write!

As you've probably already discovered, the Virtual Drumline cymbal keymap is split into UNISON and SOLO layouts. This makes is very useful in playing back very realistic split parts which differentiate nicely from unison parts. Your question is a very good one, and one that may not be ideally solved though.

Like you, I used to always write cymbal parts in a similar fashion to split basses as well. However, the big difference in writing split cymbal parts is that there must be clarity as to what "sound" you indend to be played AS WELL AS which player should be playing it. Since the solo cymbal samples in Virtual Drumline are not "player specific", there's not really an easy way to indicate this in a score so that it'll accurately play back the right sound. It's not really a limitation on VDrumline or Sibelius/Finale the way I see it. It's just the nature of a non-traditional way of writing music that we sometimes require in the world of marching percussion.

What I've switched to doing with SCV now that I use Virtual Drumline is to indicate any *unison* cymbal parts on the center staff line, and anything that's *split* (or simply not unison) would go below the center staff line. Then I'll add text in above or below notes to indicate which players and/or which sounds they should play so it's easy for them to understand my intent. At SCV it's very common for the cymbal players or the instructor to determine the splits themselves to best accomodate their needs and the needs of the music.

jim casella
Great thanks for the reply! Looks like i'll be switching to the SCV cymbal notation too, it does make sense.

Your fan,
Joe Schroeck
what i do is a little more complicated but it works for me
i use two staves, one for playback and one for printing, i write in the parts the way i want my students to read it then i go though and enter the sounds in to the other staff

Is there a way to assign 4 or 5 different keys (depending on how many cymbals you need) on your midi controller all to lets say individual orch crashes, then assign each one of those keys to be placed on a different space on the staff to get the different splits?


There is a way to do this I think. You'd have to alter the percussion mapping in your notation program. Sibelius and Finale both handle this differently, but essentially the concept is the same.

You'd need to add these extra "mappings" to keys that don't currently have a sound assigned to them, otherwise the current mappings will get screwed up. The aspects you'd need to assign for your mapping would be:
-INPUT PITCH (the midi note you play on your keyboard to enter the note)
-OUTPUT PITCH (the midi note you want to "hear" in playback...in this case it'd be the same as your input pitch)
-NOTEHEAD (assigns the notehead of your choice to the input/output pitch when entered)
-STAFF POSITION (where you want it to display on the staff - visually)

Keep in mind, if you plan to do this, you're just limiting yourself to split notation of ONE sound (i.e. solo orchestral crash). While it may help in notating split crashes (something I don't find that useful), it won't help your ability to use all the other cool cymbals sounds that are included in the library.

Due to the nature of split/unison cymbal parts, and the fact that cymbal lines vary in membership numbers quite a bit, creating the mapping for the cymbals was probably the most challenging thing. Bassplate's suggestion is actually a really good one...one staff plays like you want to hear it, the other displays the way you want to see it.

just some thoughts...

Thanks for the info. I'll try it ASAP.

Good point about not being able to use the other cool cymbals sounds.

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