An Issue with Musical Notation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetsplus, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    I have just put up a blog on this.

    An Issue with Musical Notation

    Here is the content:

    Musical notation is, at best, an approximate indicator of how a piece of music should sound. Listening to a synthethized playback from musical notation software will certainly demonstrate this.

    I am a very accomplished sight-reader of music. This ability held me in good stead when I was a first call studio player all those years ago in New Zealand. Even now, my typical first reading of any part will be error free. But I have a lot of difficulty when I am presented with an aria to sing.

    What is the difference?

    Beams! Those lines which join notes in groups of three, or four, or whatever the rhythm suggests. Beams exist in vocal music only between notes on the same syllable, whereas they are always there in instrumental music to hold together the notes contained within a common rhythmic unit (beat or half beat etc).

    The first glance of an instrumental part will show the rhythmic patterns very clearly outlined by the beams. We see a group of two, or three, or four, as being a collection of notes following the first. Let’s be clear about this. The notes all follow the first; they come after the first note. And in the rhythmic pattern dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth (or dotted quarter followed by an eighth etc), the short note comes after the long note. It is rhythmically connected to the preceding long note.

    We teach musical notation in terms of notes following each other; coming after. In the above mentioned dotted example, we teach: One, two - And Three, four - And. I believe that this is all backwards. The And does not belong to the two, or the four. The And belongs to the Three(and the next One). The pattern should be: dit Dah, dit Dah, rather than Dah dit, Dah dit. All short notes belong to the note which follows. They are preparatory notes to the long ones. This holds for all single or multiple notes leading up to a longer one.

    When you scan any piece of music you will see many examples of one or many shorter notes leading up to a longer one. One famous example is the opening four note motif of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The three Gs are relentlessly moving towards the held E flat.

    My difficulty with vocal music is that whatever beams there are, do not relate even in this reverse way to the rhythmic structure of the melody. This makes the lines more difficult to sight read, but makes them easier to sing as music.
     
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Very nice Ivan. I like the idea (and use it often) of scanning ahead to understand what those "Beams" are projecting. That is why I try to take the time to sign a piece through, to get the feel for the phrasing, before diving in to play when sight reading. Heck even when not sight reading, when I go into rehearsal with the Quintet, and play a standard I have used in my past bands, Eddie, our new leader, rags on me at times for the "Beams" I have chosen. He then gets the word up on his smart phone, places them down by the score and states, use the notes for pitch, but play from the words, play from the words, as the words speak the truth. The word, according to Eddie.
     
  3. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

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    Doesn't matter is the goofball arranger doesn't know how to use Finale.
     
  4. Buck with a Bach

    Buck with a Bach Fortissimo User

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    The band leader I'm working with uses finale, it's not entirely fool proof:oops:
     
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    So maybe they should change it's name from finale to coda?:dontknow:
     
  6. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

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    I love F-flats and E sharps in the same measure.
     
  7. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    I LOVE the same 16th note tied together throughout the measure or tying 8ths for the purpose of "clarity" (per the "arranger")!! SMH!!!
     
  8. BigDub

    BigDub Fortissimo User

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    Ivan, please explain the term "Beams"- is that a "Kiwi" term or am I just in the dark on that?
     
  9. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Can't recall my music theory 101, but Sibelius uses the word "Beam" to denote the line which connects the vertical "Stems". So you have the round blob which denotes the pitch, connected to a "stem" - then the other end of the stem may be attached via a "beam" to one or more other "stems". One beam denotes eighth notes, 2 beams denotes sixteenth notes etc.

    Nuts isn't it?

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Weird stuff out there in Notationland! Just grab a bucket and a favorite search engine and anyone can find out lots of things about the history articulation and note connection. Musicologists are pretty rare and valuable and it is good to cultivate cordial interrelationships with them. It is also wise to keep a tame Early Music enthusiast on hand, and if you can find one, try a copyist. Just buy them a beer and pick their brains.

    Yeah, it does suck to sight read choir parts sometimes, but at least they "paint the text." It can help with note connections and phrasing.
     

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