One shortcoming of Musical Notation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetsplus, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

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    Hawaian homey
    Are you suggesting that it would be a good idea if there was a common source that musicians could go to so that there's at least a one-stop resource regarding notation? If I understood that correctly, Gardner Reed wrote a very good book entitled, "Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice".
     
  2. Reedman1

    Reedman1 Piano User

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    I wasn't actually suggesting that. That is a good book. What I was suggesting is that there really is such a thing as "the tyranny of the bar line" and that sometimes, at least for study, it might be useful to arise and throw off the shackles of conventional notation. Conventional notation is efficient for most purposes, but, like all written representations, has its shortcomings. And I believe that is what the original post was about. I don't think anyone wants to reinvent the wheel, just to find ways of improving one's ability to perform written music musically.
     
  3. BustedChops

    BustedChops Mezzo Forte User

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    I often wonder if we could re-write musical notation in the form of phonetics and valve fingers only...For instance, if we are to hum a beat from a sheet of music, why can't we notate in a different form of language? Is there no system of brass music like tablature for a guitar?

    Like...trying to transpose or even scratch the surface of a jazz solo...There has got to be a different way than dots on paper...

    12-13-1-1-1-12
    Da do ba de da be
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There are centuries of success stories with the current method of notation. Perhaps it could be improved, but why? In the grander scale of things, how much does notation hold the player back? Does this "problem" rate higher than place 176 in issues confronting serious players? Would we get more young players with a Trumpet Hero app and tabs? I can't see the "air trumpet" being anywhere nearly as popular as the "air guitar".

    I think that the biggest problem with notation these days are computers making decisions to beam or not to beam. The issue mentioned in the original post used to be a non issue in the Rennaisance and early baroque period. Notation practice back then had a far stronger tie to the musical flow. Check out original scores by Hassler, Schein, Scheidt, Praetorius.

     
  5. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

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    Hawaian homey
    Would a simple example of that be a quarter note on beat 4 (4/4 time) tied over the barline to another quarter of the same pitch on first beat of the following measure)? If something like that which could be written as a half note, except for the bar line, you can always eliminate the barline and in this new measure (which is now two measures made into one, longer one) write the two tied quarters, now as a half note and change the time signature for that measure. I don't really see a problem.

    Nevertheless, an accent in parenthesis on the two-beat tone in question is all you need to shift the beat. I just haven't come across any notational problems that don't have work-arounds.

    Regarding the notation software, yes they can be a headache sometimes but in my experience most of those headaches (until one finds the proper work-arounds) are caused by either not enough familiarity with the notation program or expecting it to do too much.

    In my experience, for the most part, this is "much to do about nothing". As was mentioned above, a little collaboration with the composer, conductor, fellow players works out the bugs anyway.
     
  6. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    You have now mentioned conductors three times. Yes, I agree that one of their functions is to address this musical issue. However: as can be deduced from my other blog post 316 Failed - 1 Passed!
    it seems that even the most highly trained musicians may not often even get a chance to play with such conductors.

    Also, in my experience, good conductors are delighted when a key member of the ensemble arrives at rehearsal with such a clear understanding of phrasing.

    And, finally, on the conductor topic, I am talking about the hours spent in one's practice studio where there is neither ensemble nor conductor.
     
  7. Reedman1

    Reedman1 Piano User

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    I would add that the conversation is not about whether existing musical notation is adequate or not. It clearly is - most of the time, anyway. The point is that graphical conventions that make very good sense in the context of musical notation - that is, they are logical - often suggest ways of playing a passage in a way that doesn't make the best auditory sense, and that sometimes it may be useful to violate the visual logic in order to make the best musical logic. This should probably be done in private, though, or you'll have to bring in the conductors and then you'll have a real mess...
     
  8. Reedman1

    Reedman1 Piano User

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    And yes, it's kind of a tempest in a teapot, except as a suggestion for something to try while practicing.
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    One thing that you didn't mention in the article, but that Rowuk touched on, was that the dotted eighth/sixteenth rhythm is almost always played incorrectly by anyone who isn't a seasoned player, and even then, sometimes it still get's played like a triplet rather than a true dotted eighth/sixteenth.

    On one hand I totally see the point - the sixteenth, from a phrasing perspective, does belong to the following note, but if it were written that way it would cause a lot of confusion by those trying to read it because it's exactly opposite of how we're used to seeing it.

    Aside from that though, I think that sometimes we get way too caught up in the technical and minute details where written music is concerned. I remember being in a section rehearsal once back during my Army band days, and there was much consternation about how to play a certain figure. How long, how short, how hard to attack, how soft to attack, etc ad nauseum. This was when I was at the Old Guard, so the music was all Baroque or early Classical in nature.

    I suggested that rather than trying to explicitly define individual note lengths and attack strengths - something that was undoubtedly going to vary among the 10+ players in the section - that we should instead focus on playing it musically correct for the style of the piece. My suggestion was pish-poshed by "those in charge" and the discussion continued. At that point I just ignored it and played it as I would any other Baroque or early Classical piece, which worked out pretty well for me IMO. Then again, at that point I wasn't by far the musical weak link in that section. :D
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Trickg mentioned the magic word--style. Printed music tells us the pitch and rhythm and occasionally performance directions. Musicality comes from style, an aural tradition that is passed from musician to musician.
     

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