In this post, I will go through the steps to notate open and closed hi-hat indications in drum set parts in Finale and Sibelius.

Drum Maps

Both Finale and Sibelius use a drum map for percussion parts. Drum maps are needed since percussion instruments have multiple sounds and noteheads assigned to the same line or space in a part. If you are new to drum maps, read about them in the documentation.

Sibelius: go to Help > Reference and read the section on Drum Maps. From the index go section 4.13 Percussion. Sibelius 7 starts on page 352.

Finale:  Go to Help > User Manual and search for Drum Maps. Here is the link to the quickstart video:

About Hi-Hat Notation

There are two ways that open and closed hi-hat is typically notated. The most common is to use the articulations + for closed and o for open. Usually, if there is a closed sign, you don’t have to put it on every note, just after an open sign is used.


The other option is to use a different notehead for open hi-hat and an x for closed hi-hat.

In Finale, this requires that you go into the drum map and change the notehead assigned to the open hi-hat from an X to a circled X. This can cause problems when there is a half note in the hi-hat as the circled X is the same notehead used for half and whole notes.

In Sibelius, the drum set map includes both a different notehead for open and closed hi-hat and the articulations.

Closed = X
Open = open notehead

Finale Hi-Hat Default Notation

In Finale the drum set map has both the open and closed hi-hat assigned to the same X notehead. I enter the proper hi-hat sound and then go back and add the articulations to the notes:  + for closed and o for open.

Finale hi-hat articulation.png

After entering the notation for the hi-hat, add the + and o to the noteheads by:

  1. Choose the Articulation Tool
  2. Click on the desired note
  3. Choose the + for closed or the o for open.

TIP: Use the metatool assigned to these markings for faster entry. With the Articulations tool selected, hold down the letter “I” for = or the letter “O” for open. While holding down the letter click on the note to assign the articulation: open (o) and closed (+).

It is important to realize that in Finale, the + and o articulations are for visual purposes only. You must enter the appropriate hi-hat sound as they are being entered.

Sibelius Default Hi-Hat Notation

In Sibelius, if you play in the open and closed hi-hat from a MIDI instrument, the notehead will be changed automatically and since the X and open notehead occur first in the map, they will appear. However, if you are entering with the mouse or computer keyboard, you have to manually assign the articulations to the notes.

Since I often play in the notation from a MIDI keyboard, I delete and open notehead from the drum map leaving just the one with the o articulation over it for open hi-hat.

  1. Enter the hi-hat notes as you want them to play back.
  2. Select the notehead and use the 4th Keypad Layout (Articulations) to add the + for closed and the 0 for open.

TIP: You can select more than one note at a time to add the + or 0 marking. Click the first notehead and then hold down CTRL (Command on Mac) and click on the other notehead(s). Then, click the + or o as needed.

When entering open and closed hi-hat indications in Sibelius, when you click on the note with the open hi-hat articulation, you may not get the open hi-hat sound. However, when you press Play, the open and closed sounds should be heard where indicated.