A simple free drum tab editor

Alternative Endings

Sometimes you want to repeat a stretch of measures, but change the last bar or two each time round. For example, maybe you’ve got a 4 measure groove which repeats 4 times, with a different fill in the last measure each time. This is quite a common pattern for drums. We don’t want to write out the whole thing 4 times with just minor modifications because a) drummers are lazy, and b) it takes up precious space on the page. In this situation we use alternate repeat markings. Here’s what they look like:

This example shows the different ways we might mark alternate repeats. So this is a 2 measure groove which repeats 5 times. Each time we play it the 1st measure is the same. The 1st and 2nd times round, we play the 2nd measure in the picture, as denoted by the 1-2 marking above that measure. This is a Range marking: it means “play from here to the repeat end marker whenever the repeat number is in this range”. The markings above the third measure are 3, 5 which indicates that we play that measure on the 3rd and 5th repeats. The last bar is just marked so we only play it on the 4th repeat. Numbering the measures in the picture 1, 2, 3, 4, we play:

1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 3 – 1 – 4 – 1 – 3

for a total of 10 measures. But we’ve only had to write down 4 measures!

Entering Alternate Endings

To add an alternate ending marker on a measure, right-click on it and select the Add Alternate Ending option. Up pops the Alternate Ending dialog:

For each alternate ending that you want on this measure, you’ll need to add it here. For example, if you want this measure to repeat on the 3rd and 5th times round, first use the spinbox in the dialog to change the 1 to a 3:

Next, use the Add button to add another repeat:

Finally, change the 4 to a 5 using the obvious spinbox:

That’s it! Hit OK and the alternate repeat marking 3, 5. will appear above the measure.

Hit Cancel at any time to quit without changing anything. To remove one of the repeats, hit the red & white cross button on the right hand side.

Alternate Repeat Ranges

Wait, what’s that Range tickbox? And why’s there another spinbox? I’m glad you asked.

Sometimes you want the same alternate ending for a whole bunch of repeats. Say you repeat something 8 times and it ends the same way the first 7 times, with a different ending the 8th time around. You really don’t want it to say something like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. above the measure. How on Earth are you going to read that while playing? This is where you use the Range tickbox. That changes this repeat into a range, from the value of the first spinbox to the value of the second. So to set a repeat marking for the 1st to 7th times inclusive you’d do this:

That’ll mark the measure with 1-7. as an alternate ending marker. Neat huh?

Editing Or Deleting Alternate Endings

To delete an alternate ending, right click on the measure where it starts and select the Delete Alternate Ending option.

To edit an alternate endings, double-click on the text in the alternate marker above the measure.