A Simple Finalescript™ To Create Rhythm Cues in Drum Parts

Frequently, in jazz charts, drum parts are written with rhythm cues included so the drummer can catch specific accents and phrases the band is playing. These cues might look something like this:


Finalescript™ can help speed up the process of creating these cues, automating the following steps required to create cue notes in drum parts:

  1. Move cue notes to Layer 4 in drum staff (Layer 1 is used for slashes)
  2. Transpose all pitches in selection to space above the staff
  3. Change to cue sized notes
  4. Change stem direction of cue notes to stems up
  5. Change tie direction of cue notes to “over”
  6. Move Rests up, parallel with notes in Layer 4
  7. Apply a custom slash notation style that allows the cue notes in Layer 4 to show

The script is designed to create rhythm cues using the Normal Notation Style. However, I’ve also had luck with using it with a drum staves using the  Percussion Notation style, although as outlined below, in newer versions of Finale there is an additional step required.

Before starting to create rhythm cues, you will need to paste the Finalescript lines below into a new Finalescript. Copy and paste the script lines from “//start script” through the line that says “//end script”. In Finale, the script editor can be accessed from the plugins menu: Plugins>Finalescript>Finalescript Palette.

Here is the Finalescript:

//start script
process current doc

//move cue notes to Layer 4
move layer 1 to layer 4

//make all pitches G above the staff
plug in "single pitch"
type "G5"

//change to cue sized notes
menu item "notesize"
type "75"

//change stem direction of cue notes to stems up
menu item "utilities/stem direction/up"

plug in "move rests"
type "6"

//custom slash notation - this requires that you first define Slash Notation With Rhythm Cues
Menu item "Tools/Staff"
Menu item "Staff/apply staff style to/score and parts"
type "V"

//manually change tie direction of cue notes
menu item "utilities/change/ties"
//end script

This particular Finalescript also requires a custom staff style, which you can download hereRight-click to download to your computer, then follow the instructions in the Finale file to save this custom staff style as a library item. This library file then can then be opened in your Finale template or any Finale document (and is also applied by the Finalescript when you make cues.)

In Finale 2011, the Staff Style will convert the notes of the rhythm cue to Normal notation, regardless of the Notation Style currently in use by the instrument. In Finale 2012 or later, if you are using the Percussion Notation Style, a couple of extra steps are required, because an instrument’s Notation Style is now separated from the Staff Styles.

Initial Setup Steps:

  1. Download the Finale file containing the required Staff Style
  2. Open the Finale file, and follow the instructions in the file to save the Staff Style: “Slash Notation With Rhythm Cues (Drums)” as a Library file.
  3. Open this Library file into your own Finale Template or current Finale score.
  4. With the Staff Tool selected, Type SHIFT-V and select the “Slash Notation With Rhythm Cues (Drums)” Staff Style. This will program the Staff Style metatool that is called by the script.

If you are already using the V metatool for something else, you can change the line of the script that says “type V ” to another letter you have assigned as a metatool to the new script – “V” is not a metatool used with the Staff Styles in the default Finale templates, so you shouldn’t normally have a conflict.

When working in a score, follow these steps before running the plugin:

  1. manually copy the passage you want to cue into the drums from any instrument staff.
  2. Paste these notes into the drum staff.
  3. With those bars selected in the drum staff, run the script.

The last thing the script does is open the Utilities > Change Ties dialog so you can set the direction of any ties within the rhythm cues to OVER.


As mentioned above, due to a UI design change starting in Finale 2012, a couple of additional steps may be required, depending on how you have your Drums / Percussion Instrument defined:

If you are using the Standard Notation Style for your Drum / Percussion staves in FInale 2012 and later, the script should work the same as it does in Finale 2011, with no additional steps required.

If you are using the Percussion Notation Style for your Drum / Percussion instrument in the more recent versions of Finale, you can still get the the script to work; you just need to add a couple of additional steps, since the Notation Style is now separate from the other Staff Attributes in Finale. Here are the steps you need to do manually after running the script in this case:

  1. After running the plugin, with the cue region still selected in the Drum staff, go to Utilies > Change Instrument , and select a non transposing treble clef instrument (like flute or “blank staff”).
  2. Add a second instrument change to reset the Instrument back to Drum set (or percussion) following the cue.
  3. After adding all the rhythm cues required throughout the piece, select the clef tool, and change the clef back to percussion clef from beginning to end.

Hopefully, this tutorial and accompanying Finalescript will save you some time.


4 Replies to “A Simple Finalescript™ To Create Rhythm Cues in Drum Parts”

  1. Thanks for this useful script–I’m going to try it out shortly!
    Curious to know your opinion of the percussion implementation in 2012?

  2. This script is cool

    I got one problem though, i can’t get it to transpose the notes to what would be a g above the staff if it were treble clef..
    everything else it does fine.
    i’m using finale 2012 and followed all the instructions, but still..

    it’s useful anyway.. thanks

    1. Hi Alfredo,

      Sounds like on your computer, Finalescript is not running this step correctly:

      //make all pitches G above the staff
      plug in “single pitch”
      type “G5” 

      Make sure you have the plugin called “Note, Beam and Rest Editing > Single Pitch…” installed and active in your plugins menu. I’ve never had an issue with letter case recognition in this script, but you might also try capitalizing the words “Single Pitch” in the script text to see if that helps.

      Good luck!


  3. I do something similar… however I use Layer 3 since I used to use layer 4 for Key Switches in sample instruments.

    I set the entire layer 3 behaviour to beams up and adjust floating rest by 6 steps. That way I can copy rhythms from any part above the drum staff, make it one pitch and move that to layer 3 – done.

    In most cases, it’s actually better to read for the drummer to leave the note size at 100% – usually a drummer’s music stand is pretty far away because of the HH and/or cymbals.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.