How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

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Knut
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by Knut » 22 Mar 2016, 14:32

Reading through your rules again, I don't think they are less complex or easier to understand than my own, but they do indeed work. Keep in mind that my initial reservations to them was before you introduced the option of four slashes in slow tempos. As they stand now, there will be no practical difference in our results.

Anyway, here's an attempt at defining my approach:

Measured Tremolo

The value of the note indicates the duration of the tremolo, while the number of slashes indicate the duration of the repeated notes.
On beamed notes, the duration of repeated noes is indicated by the combined number of beams and slashes.

Unmeasured Tremolo

Indicated by a sufficiently fast frequency of repetition according to the principles above (generally from two slashes in very fast tempos to four slashes in very slow tempos).

Additionally the verbal indications trem. and non trem. can be added for extended passages or clarification.

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John Ruggero
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by John Ruggero » 22 Mar 2016, 17:14

Knut, thank you for your rules.

I must confess that I really didn't understand how they solve the issue, which I thought was something that would allow the composer (and the player) to distinguish between a measured repetition and a unmeasured tremolo at first sight.

"The value of the note indicates the duration of the tremolo" seems self-evident, and the rest describes what one knows already IF one knows that it is a measured tremolo. But how does one know? (Your second rule seems to hinge on the first, so I don't get that either.) But maybe I am completely missing the point, which has been known to happen more often than I would like.

In any case, here is an illustration of how, in my dreams, "my" rules would work:*

The player sees one slash on beamed, flagged or unbeamed notes. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

The player sees two slashes on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

The player sees two or more slashes on beamed or flagged notes. BOOM, they know they are dealing with an unmeasured tremolo.

The player sees three or more slashes on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with an unmeasured tremolo.

The player sees three or more slashes with the indication non trem. on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

Then, in my dreams I imagine everyone agreeing to these ground rules and the world becoming a better place without the addition of yet more new musical symbols. (I hope the BOOMs didn't hurt your eyes, but I needed a sound effect, maybe a bass drum and cymbal crash.)

Completely OT: I changed my slur tips to .07 spaces and like them better. What do you think? Maybe even thicker?

*I reserve the right to correct the illustrations without prejudice if I screwed them up.
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Knut
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by Knut » 22 Mar 2016, 17:57

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, thank you for your rules.

I must confess that I really didn't understand how they solve the issue, which I thought was something that would allow the composer (and the player) to distinguish between a measured repetition and a unmeasured tremolo at first sight.

"The value of the note indicates the duration of the tremolo" seems self-evident, and the rest describes what one knows already IF one knows that it is a measured tremolo. But how does one know? (Your second rule seems to hinge on the first, so I don't get that either.) But maybe I am completely missing the point, which has been known to happen more often than I would like.

In any case, here is an illustration of how, in my dreams, "my" rules would work:*

The player sees one slash on beamed, flagged or unbeamed notes. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

The player sees two slashes on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

The player sees two or more slashes on beamed or flagged notes. BOOM, they know they are dealing with an unmeasured tremolo.

The player sees three or more slashes on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with an unmeasured tremolo.

The player sees three or more slashes with the indication non trem. on an unbeamed note. BOOM, they know they are dealing with measured repetition.

Then, in my dreams I imagine everyone agreeing to these ground rules and the world becoming a better place without the addition of yet more new musical symbols. (I hope the BOOMs didn't hurt your eyes, but I needed a sound effect, maybe a bass drum and cymbal crash.)

Completely OT: I changed my slur tips to .07 spaces and like them better. What do you think? Maybe even thicker?

*I reserve the right to correct the illustrations without prejudice if I screwed them up.
I think our objective differ as well. I had no Intention to make an instant separation between measured and unmeasured tremolos. Quite the opposite, actually. To me they are two sides of the same coin, and the entire purpose of my system is to explain their connection as well as how they are notated respectively.

They are nevertheless just as easily distinguishable as a fast motive is from a slow one. In the majority of cases three slashes would automatically mean unmeasured.

By your rules, two slashes on beamed notes would automatically be interpreted as an unmeasured tremolo, never as repeated 32nd notes. By my rules, the reader is encouraged to make an interpretation based on the tempo, just like other musical aspects.

Anyway, I don't see how any of my definition is self explanatory to people totally unfamiliar with the concept, and even though that doesn't apply to anyone here, I thought I'd start from the beginning to make my thinking absolutely clear.

I think we should agree to disagree on the best way of thinking about tremolos. As shown, we do agree on the notation, and that's the main thing.

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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by erelievonen » 22 Mar 2016, 19:10

I'm not sure if there's any point in continuing the discussion on this subject, but I'll take the risk...
In my opinion, any rules should be kept as simple as possible. (A rule with 5 cases is way too complicated.)
I submit this:

1. If a musician sees any note with so many slashes that it is physically impossible to play it as a measured tremolo in the prevailing tempo, it will be an unmeasured tremolo. (Obviously; there is no other way.)
2. If it is possible to play it as a measured tremolo, it should be played so. (Unless the composer has added the word trem.)

It is true here just like everywhere: any notation that is ambiguous is not a good notation. (Regardless of how widely it may be used.)
It is the composer's own responsibility to notate his music so that ambiguous situations do not arise. (Yes, the existing repertoire is full of ambiguous cases, which need to be solved on a case by case basis. Sorry, but those composers did not do their job well enough. We don't have to repeat their mistakes, though.)
Further: If you do use abbreviations for measured tremolos, always write out the first bar in full. You might even add the word "simile" at the point where the abbreviated notation begins. And if this doesn't produce the intended measured result in performance, it is not the composer's fault!

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David Ward
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by David Ward » 22 Mar 2016, 19:59

erelievonen wrote:… … … Further: If you do use abbreviations for measured tremolos, always write out the first bar in full. You might even add the word "simile" at the point where the abbreviated notation begins.
If only I had added “simile” in the case I mentioned above (and to which I gave an audio link), I'm sure it would have been played exactly as I'd intended.
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by Knut » 22 Mar 2016, 21:03

erelievonen wrote:I'm not sure if there's any point in continuing the discussion on this subject, but I'll take the risk...
In my opinion, any rules should be kept as simple as possible. (A rule with 5 cases is way too complicated.)
I submit this:

1. If a musician sees any note with so many slashes that it is physically impossible to play it as a measured tremolo in the prevailing tempo, it will be an unmeasured tremolo. (Obviously; there is no other way.)
2. If it is possible to play it as a measured tremolo, it should be played so. (Unless the composer has added the word trem.)

It is true here just like everywhere: any notation that is ambiguous is not a good notation. (Regardless of how widely it may be used.)
It is the composer's own responsibility to notate his music so that ambiguous situations do not arise. (Yes, the existing repertoire is full of ambiguous cases, which need to be solved on a case by case basis. Sorry, but those composers did not do their job well enough. We don't have to repeat their mistakes, though.)
Further: If you do use abbreviations for measured tremolos, always write out the first bar in full. You might even add the word "simile" at the point where the abbreviated notation begins. And if this doesn't produce the intended measured result in performance, it is not the composer's fault!
I totally agree! You certainly boiled it down, erelievonen. I think the discussion got me hung up on the connection between the two tremolo types, as well as bringing in the basics, which was totally unnecessary. Your explanation is the essence of what I've been (unsuccessfully) trying to convey, but you make it much clearer.

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John Ruggero
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by John Ruggero » 23 Mar 2016, 01:04

Knut wrote:
I think our objective differ as well. I had no Intention to make an instant separation between measured and unmeasured tremolos. Quite the opposite, actually. To me they are two sides of the same coin, and the entire purpose of my system is to explain their connection as well as how they are notated respectively.
I guess we were talking past each other, Knut.

For me, the "measured repetition" and the "unmeasured tremolo" are different; the first is an abbreviation of normal playing, the second is a special effect. The only connection between them is that they abbreviate repeated notes and share a notation, which was originally probably from convenience. I thought from the title of the thread that the discussion was about distinguishing the two rather than connecting them, because it is the connections that are so vexing for notation. For me, the use of trem. and non trem. is a confession that our notational system has broken down.

I don't pretend that my rules are perfect, and obviously they are not because a one non trem. marking still has to be used, but I was trying to spark a discussion that might lead to something better. The only real innovation in my rules was regarding two slashes on all beamed notes. Instead of writing a series of eighth notes with two slashes to indicate a measured tremolo in 32nds, the eighths would be halved to 16ths with one slash so that one slash would always be reserved for measured tremolo and two for unmeasured tremolos with beamed notes. Maybe this is impractical, or maybe not; but I was interested in the reaction and maybe some interesting ideas for something better without use of a new symbol.

Thank you, erelievonen, for your rules which definitely moves the discussion forward.

I think your two rules could be boiled down to one, here framed from the player's point of view:

RULE: Only play slashed notes as unmeasured tremolos if it is impossible to play them as measured repetitions.

I think this rule might be OK from the player's point of view, but may lead to difficulty from the composer's. The composer must now decide what is going to seem impossible to the player depending on the tempo and situation. He may very well err on the side of too many slashes as insurance, or too few. I was hoping to come up with a more exact formulation.

But I understand from the reaction that the status quo as perhaps represented by this rule is satisfactory as far as everyone is concerned and will hold my peace.

PS I spoke too soon. Maybe the best approach would be to write all measured repetitions as at present, and all unmeasured tremolo passages without any slashes at all, but with an initial "trem." and a "ord." cancelation, just as we do for other effects like col legno, sul ponticello? But then there are the two note tremolos.
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by OCTO » 23 Mar 2016, 08:27

MJCube and finally erelievonen has shaped the exact rule for these distinctions!! :wink:
John Ruggero wrote:Your point is irrefutable, David! Murphy's Law holds in music as in science; if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.
So well said!
But here, John, as a string player, one who spend 10 years in orchestras, and now completely freelance composer, I would never write this as you proposed, neither have seen in violin parts:
Tremolos.jpg
Tremolos.jpg (18.12 KiB) Viewed 2036 times
Either one full measure containing :1 , or one half of measure containing :1 (if double /quadruple time signature), and afterwards slashes.
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John Ruggero
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by John Ruggero » 23 Mar 2016, 14:38

Gould, page 224 "It is therefore advisable to notate the first beat or bar in full. (It is then assumed that the same rhythm will apply…etc) For absolute clarity. add the label non. trem…etc."

Gould recommends just one beat or one bar. Writing out a whole 4/4 bar of 32nd notes seems pointless in any case and would have defeated the purpose of the exercise, half a bar of 32nds is better, a whole beat still better, but think a half a beat is sufficient for clarity and gives more the idea of a clarification of what is following.

It doesn't seem that rare or confusing to me, OCTO, but I bow to your superior experience.
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Re: How many slashes for unmeasured tremolos (including beamed)?

Post by OCTO » 23 Mar 2016, 15:09

Ok, right, not the full measure of 32, but maybe of 8 is possible, or half measure.
In your case that is correct, not the whole measure, but one beat, certainly not half beat, and probably not the tie.
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