Using Multiple Microtonal Systems

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
Post Reply
SantaKiwi
Posts: 17
Joined: 06 Apr 2019, 23:16

Using Multiple Microtonal Systems

Post by SantaKiwi »

Hi all

Hope you are all well and are staying safe. A client of mine who is a living composer tends to notate using both the Tartini system and the Gould Arrows (see attached photos).

I asked why he uses both systems and he said that they represent different approximations as to how big/small the alteration is. So I'd understand the use of both systems if it was to exactly notate the difference (I.e. Tartini for quartertones/Gould for sixth tones etc.), but to use two systems for approximations?

Would love to hear the group's thoughts on this in general as well as any alternative systems that I can recommend to him.
Attachments
1598303362678211762100705771996.jpg

User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1495
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Using Multiple Microtonal Systems

Post by OCTO »

Usually living composers don't like giving advice on notation... :)

But, there is nothing wrong to use any system as long as it is introduced exactly (preface) and if it doesn't cause confusion or if it doesn't cause new learning that would be burden for musicians.

(Personally I use only arrows and it is enough for musical perception.
The question is how it is going to be performed. If played on bowed string instruments it is very tricky to get exact microtones in any quicker tempo. I am not sure how I can make distinction on the violin between 1/3 and 1/4 lower tone in any position that is higher than 3rd. If you allow me 10 seconds to execute that I can do, but in real world, playing to many microtones makes just messy sound, and such "exact microtones" become just approximate. This is particularly difficult because on the violin family you already need to play "out of temperation". Anyone who plays Bach's "Sonaten und Partiten" understands that constant compromises must be done in order to tune it properly (=perfect intervals must remain perfect, and minor/major must be compromised).)
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25.5 • Sibelius 2020 • MuseScore 2+3 • Logic Pro X+ • Ableton Live 10+ • Digital Performer 9+ /// MacOS Mojave, (side systems: Fedora 32, Windows 10)

User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1495
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Using Multiple Microtonal Systems

Post by OCTO »

EDIT: Indeed, I have made a test, and it looks confusing.

There are numerous symbols for microtones, and in Bravura the composer you work with can certainly make a new set for his composition. That would be the best.

As Gould says:
No pitches other than the twelve chromatic degrees of the octave have standard notation. Symbols for any other pitches require a written definition. Arrows are a very convenient and logical symbol to show the raising and lowering of pitch.
I know some composers that notate with arrows AND add numbers above, such as: 1/3, 1/8 etc., but despite an easy solution, it can be confusing with chords.

Maybe your composer writes multiphonics for woodwinds. In that case the fingering is more important than "exact" notation in fractions, and arrow up/down is definitely enough. Anyway, whit a certain fingering you cannot get any other pitches, so being to detailed is a tautology.

Here is a font that uses extended arrows and other symbols for microtonal notations. I don't see any copyright, so I assume it is free-to-use. I haven't used the font, but it has been for sure more than decade on my computer. I don't have idea where I got it and don't know if it works.
Attachments
omicron.ttf.zip
(4.04 KiB) Downloaded 37 times
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25.5 • Sibelius 2020 • MuseScore 2+3 • Logic Pro X+ • Ableton Live 10+ • Digital Performer 9+ /// MacOS Mojave, (side systems: Fedora 32, Windows 10)

SantaKiwi
Posts: 17
Joined: 06 Apr 2019, 23:16

Re: Using Multiple Microtonal Systems

Post by SantaKiwi »

Hi OCTO

Thanks always for your swift responses.

I agree with all your points. As a composer myself, I tend to stick with the arrows, or in some cases arrows plus harmonic partial numbers but even I know that that is me becoming too neurotic!

I will check out the font and will see what I can suggest to my colleague. :)

Post Reply