A simple free drum tab editor

The Drum Kit

The drum kit determines which drums are available in your score, which note heads can be played on each drum, what sounds each note makes when played, and what each note looks like when exported to Lilypond. DrumBurp has a number of pre-loaded default kits which you can edit and add to, or you can load & save drumkit settings from/to disk.

To start editing the drum kit, double-click on the drum key or the drum name abbreviations at the beginning of a staff:

Drum key highlighted

This will open the kit editor. Warning: Any changes made to the drum kit cannot be undone!

The Kit Editor

The Kit Editor

The kit editor is divided into a number of areas. The most important is the Drums section in the top left corner. This shows you the names of the drums in the current kit and the order that they appear in. Selecting any drum in this list will populate the rest of the dialog with the information for that drum. The Sound section in the top right determines whether the sounds associated with the currently selected note & head combination will be played when a new drum and/or note head is selected.

The other areas are always populated with the data for the currently selected drum: they are Drum Info, Note Heads, Lilypond Notation, MIDI Note, Effects and Line Lock.

When you are done editing the drum kit, select the OK button to apply your changes to the current score. If you change your mind and want to discard all your changes just press Cancel.


The Drums section in the top left displays the drums in the kit and the order they appear in, as well as the currently selected drum. New drums can be added with the “plus” button under the drum list, and drums can be removed with the “minus” button – at least one drum must always remain in the kit, an empty kit is not allowed. New drums will be populated with minimal settings for note heads, sound, etc. Drums can be moved around in the drum list by selecting them and using the up/down arrow buttons to change the order they appear in.

Kit Editor Drums List

The buttons above the drum list provide for management of the whole kit.

  •  process-stop  Deletes all drums in the kit which are not locked and do not have any notes in the current score.
  • document-new Clears the whole kit and starts again with a single drum.
  • edit-undo Undo all changes made so far, and reset the kit to what it was when the kit editor was opened.
  • go-home  Open the list of default drum kits.
  • folder Load a kit from a file on disk.
  • document-save Save the current kit to disk.

Drum Info

The drum info section allows you to change the name and abbreviation associated with each drum in the kit. The full name only appears in the drum key at the beginning of the score (and in exported ASCII tab), while the abbreviation for a drum appears at the beginning of each line.

Kit Editor Drum Info

Drum name abbreviations must be one or two characters long; both characters must be either a letter or a number.

The Convert from existing drum option will usually be used when you want to make large changes to the kit used by a score, but still retain the notes in that score. Selecting a drum in the current kit from the drop down box will cause all of the notes from that existing drum to be written to this drum when the changes to the kit are applied.

Note Heads

The Note Heads window allows you to change, add and remove the note heads allowed for the currently selected drum, as well as the keyboard shortcut associated with each head.

Kit Editor Note Heads

The central window in the Note Heads section shows the valid note heads associated with the currently selected drum. The first head in the list is always the default note head for that drum. Selecting a new note head from the list causes the Lilypond Notation, MIDI Note and Effects windows to show the information associated with that note head.

The note head list shows the valid characters which are allowed to appear on the line associated with the currently selected drum in the score. When a note head is selected you can change its character with the Current note head dropdown, and its keyboard shortcut with the Shortcut dropdown. You can add, remove and re-order note heads using the buttons beneath the note head list. Pressing the Set Default button causes the currently selected note head to become the default for the currently selected drum.


The MIDI note section sets the MIDI sound associated with the currently selected drum & note head combination.

Kit Editor MIDI Note

The dropdown menu selects the sound which is made by the current drum & note head, while the slider underneath controls the volume of the note. The sounds selected here are made when entering notes on the score, and during MIDI playback and export.


The Effects section is used to define how the currently selected drum & note head combination is played.


Note: Up to version 0.9 this has no effect on either playback or export. In future these settings may be used to affect MIDI playback/export.

Line Lock

The line lock setting for a drum determines whether it will be displayed when the Show Empty Drums setting is de-selected.

Kit Editor Line Lock

When Show Empty Drums is de-selected then any drums which do not contain any notes in a particular staff will not be displayed – this helps to save vertical space in the score. However, any drums which are “locked” – i.e. drums which have this checkbox ticked – will always be displayed, even if they are empty. This setting also affects which drums are displayed during ASCII export.

Lilypond Notation

The Lilypond Notation section shows an approximation of how the current note/head combination will appear when exported to Lilypond. The central window in this section shows a graphical representation of the current note/head as it will appear in the Lilypond sheet music.

Kit Editor Lilypond Notation

The line that the note appears on can be changed using the up/down arrows to the right of the display window. The Stem Up checkbox shows whether the stem of the note should go up or down. The Head dropdown selects the note head that will be used, while the Effect dropdown applies effects such as ghost notes, flams, chokes, etc.

Note: this is only an approximation of how Lilypond will represent the note when it engraves your exported score. In particular, the stem up/down setting cannot be guaranteed. Lilypond makes its own decisions about how best to display different notes. When writing the Lilypond score, DrumBurp writes all notes with stems set to up in the one voice, and all notes with stems down in another voice. Lilypond itself then decides how to best display these notes.


The Sound section determines whether note sounds are played while editing the kit.

Kit editor sounds

Any time that a new drum and/or note head is selected in the kit editor, the corresponding MIDI note is played back. If this gets annoying, you can turn it off using the mute button in this section.