Note input setup for percussion kits

Inputting music for unpitched percussion instruments works differently than for pitched instruments. You can use any of the usual methods for unpitched percussion input, but using a MIDI keyboard or a computer keyboard is most efficient.

In the Note Input section of the Note Input and Editing page in Preferences you can find options relating to note input for percussion.

There is one set of options for input onto five-line staves, and another set of options for input onto grids and individual instruments.

The main choice affects input via MIDI keyboards and computer keyboards.

Use percussion map

A percussion map defines which MIDI notes produce which sound for a particular patch in a sound library. For example, in General MIDI percussion, C2 (note 36) produces bass drum, and D2 (note 38) produces snare drum, and so on.

If you know a particular mapping well, you may find it helpful to use the mapping directly for input.

Use staff position

This option uses the staff position defined in the Edit Percussion Kit dialog. For example, on a drum set, the bass drum is normally positioned in the bottom space of the staff, while the snare drum is positioned in the third space from the bottom.

You can think of staff positions relative to what they would be when using a treble G clef (F4 and C5 respectively) or using a bass F clef (A2 and E3 respectively).

You can choose which clef is used to interpret staff positions for five-line staves:

  • Treble G clef

  • Bass F clef

When you select Use staff position, you can designate one octave of your MIDI keyboard to input playing techniques.

By default, the Input techniques from MIDI key option is set to MIDI note 48, which is C3, the C one octave below middle C (C4 = MIDI note 60). You can click the MIDI learn button and then play a note on your MIDI keyboard to change the starting pitch. Assuming a starting pitch of C3, ascending notes operate as follows:

  • C3 (48): Previous playing technique

  • C3 (49): Next playing technique

  • D3 (50): First mapped playing technique

  • E3 (51): Second mapped playing technique

  • E3 (52): Third mapped playing technique

And so on, up to:

  • B3 (59): Tenth mapped playing technique

In general, it is recommended that you set Use staff position for percussion input.

Use percussion map is normally only useful when you are inputting notes onto a drum set and you have already memorized the General MIDI percussion map.