Percussion Doubling

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the most frequently asked percussion question I hear from users of Finale 2010 concerns the playback speed of snare rolls. I offered my solution here. This week we’ll talk about the second most frequently asked percussion question. This question concerns doubling, or how to get more than one percussion instrument to look and play back correctly on the same staff.

Let’s say you want to create something that looks like this – AND plays back correctly:

Here’s how I did it:

  1. From the Setup Wizard I created a Xylophone staff.
  2. I entered the notes I wanted the xylophone to play.
  3. In measures 5 and 6 I entered, on “B”, the rhythms I wanted the woodblock to play, then entered the notes for the bells.
  4. To change the woodblock section to a one line staff, I used Staff Styles. To do so, choose the Staff tool, select measures 5 and 6, right-mouse click on the selected measures, and choose “One-line Staff: Full Barline” from the context menu. (Using a one-button mouse on a Mac? Access the contextual menu with Control+mouse click.)

Next, I created a text expression that says “Woodblock” AND changes the playback sound from the xylophone to the woodblock:

  1. Select the Expression tool, then click on the first rest of the woodblock part.
  2. In the resulting Expression Selection dialog box, choose Technique Text, then hit Create Technique Text:
  3. Here we create the word “woodblock”. Simply type it into the text field. Want to change the font? Select the text you’d like to change and click on the Text menu for some options. 
  4. Now click on the Playback tab. Here we select the type of playback effect we want. In this case we want to change the “Patch” or sound, so we select Patch, then select the woodblock sound from the GM (General MIDI) sound library: 

  5. Click “OK” and then “Assign” to have your creation appear on your score.

Now play it back. YOU DID IT!

What we just did – creating text to which we’ve assigned a specific playback action – is amazingly powerful. Instead of changing the Patch, we could have chosen to change the transposition, or tempo, or many other things. I love seeing the wheels spin when folks begin thinking of other cool ways to utilize this capability.

Now you can use the same technique to change the playback in measure 7 to Bells. What’s more, you can continue to adapt what you’ve learned here to all your future projects.


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