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Hello I'm Contrabassoon.

I have a percussion piece; almost ready to be played.

I was wondering how to notate for these instruments.

Concert toms (three kinds; i think high-mid-low), snare drum, bongos, suspended cymbals, hi-hat, woodblocks, small gongs, chimes and anvil.

Percussion notation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, but i need more help.


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well for starters:

3 toms gets 3 lines

2 bongos get 2 lines

the rest of the unpitched get 1

percussion has no definite rules..If you want a player to change instruments, just write it...for a bongo for instance...you could write notes on the top line for high drum and low for low drum...an x for a note head could indicate a hit on the rim of the drum. A trill line above a note or 3 slashes through the note stem indicates a roll..

Ask what questions you have rather than asking such a broad question. in fact, just start notating a way that you think makes sense and then we can help by adjusting your notation from there..common sense goes a long way in percussion notation

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What do you mean by 3 lines?




like that?

For example; i would have closed h-hat, open h-hat, snare roll in that order, would the notation be +, o, /// (32nd? roll)? (o) being closed and (+) open; written above the high G of Bass Clef (X with ledger lines indicating its duration).

What if i wanted them to change instruments really frequently, like within a measure (close, open, low wood block, high, roll snare, bass drum?)

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+ for closed, treat it like an accidental tho. just the first time it is needed, then o for open etc the slashes for the roll are more flat (like eight o'clock to two o'clock)

if you want to write like the second part of your question (many instruments) make a diagram at the top of the music or in the first measure. use a five line staff. at that point different note heads may be the answer. there is no written rule, but generally as follows--

triangle for (say it with me now) triangle, square for block, x for ANY cymbal (denote which one tho) regular heads for the 'drums'. try to put all toms either ON lines or SPACES but try not to mix it up; then put snare on the opposite

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Take a regular five part staff. (all pitches that I say will be in treble clef)

Take the space below the staff, D (the d right above middle c) - that's the lowest tom tom. First space F is the middle tom tom. Second space A is the top tom tom. Third space C is the snare drum.

That covers your drum (normally every drum would be up a space but we're gonna make the bongos on spaces)

Fourth Space E is the lower bongo, the top space G is the top bongo. For these I would suggest using the diamond noteheads, just to provide add readability.

Now here's the tricky part. You have to weigh how much stuff gets used, and what gets used with what. For instance, if you only use the gongs (how many? You didn't say. Lets assume 4) in one spot, and it's far away from the tom tom/snare drum/ bongo part, then you can use the 4 spaces in the staff for the gongs and just specify "4 gongs" before and specifcy "tom-toms, snare drum, and bongos" afterwards. If they are interspersed throughout the piece, then put them on a different pitch.

Basically, the next thing you want to use up is the lines in the staff, with the most used instruments. Assuming that's woodblock and anvil, then make your woodblocks middle line B (for the low one) and like D (for the high one). Then make the anvil line G.

This takes care of everything except Hi-hat, sus. cymbal, and chimes. For hi hat, I would put it at top space G, and use an x notehead. Even if you have fast alternation between bongo and hi hat, it won't be hard to read. For open hi-hat you would use the 'o' symbol above, and for closed hi-hat you would use the '+' symbol above. If you mostly use closed hi-hat then just say "closed hi-hat" at the beginning and specify where it opens and closes after that.

For the suspended cymbal, if you're using it as a surface to hit on (like a ride cymbal) then I would put it at top space E, where the second bongo is, using an x notehead. What this does is it helps correlate the cymbals and bongos as one group, and the drums as one group, and the smaller instruments (anvil, woodblocks) as one group. So instead of 12 instruments, you have 3 'instruments' with different parts to hit. If that makes sense. That's not how we actually think of it but it's kind of subconscious.

If you're using hte suspended cymbal like normal, with rolls and such, then put it above, somewhere. Like, line C above the staff.

Same with chimes (if you're talking wind chimes) just put them somewhere up high, because they're not rhythmic, they're probably not used often and they wont' be in the way. They could even be put low, like middle C, so there's differentiation between suspended cymbal (if it's up high) and chimes.

If you're talking about pitched Chimes, then they are notated exactly like other pitched instruments. Use pedal markings as appropriate. Note the range before you write parts for the chimes.

Now specify this in the beginning of the score, or if it won't make too much clutter, when the instruments first appear. If you change what instruments are where (like in the tom-tom/gong example,) you MUST respecify what's where in the score.

If you want to send me a pdf I'd be glad to look it over

jwhitmarsh.stu @ okcu.edu

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