Beautifying Mallet Percussion

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by John Ruggero » 02 Mar 2016, 15:42

I came to this thread late and agree with all of the comments that have been made. I would just like to add:

1. ALL the staves are WAY too far apart. For this style of writing, the staves should be closer together than usual.

2. Beaming to the beat would be much more legible, no matter what style of beaming is used.

3.I don't think that the situation is exactly like that of a percussion score, which is best left to the players to divide up.

If it is educational music and/or this was written by a virtuoso mallet player, I think that it is appropriate for the hand divisions to be specified in the notation itself, just as keyboard composers generally specify such decisions. In music written by an composer who is an expert on the instrument, the music and the way of playing it originated at the same time. So the composer has already found the best way to accomplish the passage technically, and the passage is best expressed with the composer's division.

But if this is NOT the case, which is probably the most common case encountered by percussionists, the music should be left without hand divisions.
OCTO wrote:
6. EX1 m.1: why is tone B-E in LH in :t ? But the next B-E in m.3 in is split in :b ? What is the sense of it?
While it is clear that the engraver was inexperienced and making a lot of errors while using old Finale defaults etc. I do agree with his notation here. The first B-E leads downward; the second B-E leads upward and the split between the staves makes a nice transition.
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Alexander Ploetz
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by Alexander Ploetz » 02 Mar 2016, 16:15

John Ruggero wrote:So the composer has already found the best way to accomplish the passage technically, and the passage is best expressed with the composer's division.
There is no such thing as the best way to accomplish a passage technically.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by John Ruggero » 02 Mar 2016, 17:59

Alexander Ploetz wrote:
There is no such thing as the best way to accomplish a passage technically.
On the piano, there IS such an animal. For example, in all the mature piano works of Chopin, there is not one note that should be redistributed between the hands. He found the best technical solution in every case. Mozart, Beethoven and many other master composers are the same. Of course, there are many players who do redistribute notes in the music of these composers, but they are making things more difficult for themselves, at least interpretively, by doing so.

Please excuse my ignorance and accept my condolences if this situation does not exist with mallet instruments. However, I must say that I am quite suspicious! Somehow I think that if every possible distribution were explored for a passage, the majority would be patently absurd, a few would be possible, and one would win out as the best; and an expert player-composer would find that solution intuitively.
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cGilmore
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by cGilmore » 03 Mar 2016, 03:14

OCTO wrote:Please excuse me if I sound to harsh, it is definitely not my intention. ;)
Oh no, not at all!

The more I learn about and learn to see, the more frustrated I get with engraving in percussion literature. I think it may be that it doesn't have a long history of literature and thus hasn't be in the hands of trained engravers through time to work out the kinks that it is, in all honesty, a very messy genre of engraving. Of course there are a few examples of solid engraving, but they are few indeed.

Besides that, everyone on this forum pointing out problem areas or interesting examples has been a huge enjoyment for me.

But yes, I would agree with all of your points.
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cGilmore
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by cGilmore » 03 Mar 2016, 03:25

John Ruggero wrote:If it is educational music and/or this was written by a virtuoso mallet player, I think that it is appropriate for the hand divisions to be specified in the notation itself, just as keyboard composers generally specify such decisions. In music written by an composer who is an expert on the instrument, the music and the way of playing it originated at the same time. So the composer has already found the best way to accomplish the passage technically, and the passage is best expressed with the composer's division.

But if this is NOT the case, which is probably the most common case encountered by percussionists, the music should be left without hand divisions.
I think this is the way to go. Unless the music demands a certain choice of mallet to use, or is an edition that incorporates a certain soloist's choices, it's best left to the performer to decide. And in the case of needing to specify, there's always the equivalent of fingerings that can be used.

Now, to convince all the composer-soloists that write most of this music they're not virtuosos… ;)
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by DatOrganistTho » 16 Apr 2016, 02:18

My brother is a professional percussionist, and has this piece in his back pocket.

Marimba players use two mallets in each hand. Some use 3 (but it's not functional), and thus it is VERY important that sticking take precedent over any notational conventions.

That doesn't mean some of the more obvious issues aren't fixed, but any attempt to "beautify" the difficult reading is not going to aid the marimba player.
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by DatOrganistTho » 16 Apr 2016, 02:20

Knut wrote:I'm no expert in writing for percussion, but one question comes to mind: Are rests outlawed in this kind of writing? The rhythm is very hard to make out without them.

Further solutions to explore are clef changes and cross staff beaming. Another solution is the kind of double stemming frequently used in keyboard and harp music, where one voice/hand gets all the notes, while the notes for the other hand is doubled with the stems in opposite directions.

BTW, the brace looks like the old Finale default.
This is a horizontal score; the player is more concerned with knowing what their sticking is rather than their beat groups.
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buster
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by buster » 25 May 2016, 14:21

Hi! Is this still an open problem?

Here's my solution:
RH with regular noteheads, LH with x (or some other shape)
marimbanotes.png
marimbanotes.png (23.57 KiB) Viewed 1925 times
So first of all, it fixes the crazy inconsistent beaming, it's easy to read, it more resembles the music for other instruments. It's easy to see where the 3rd beat is, for example. I think it works well... ;)

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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by DatOrganistTho » 25 May 2016, 16:06

buster wrote:Hi! Is this still an open problem?

Here's my solution:
RH with regular noteheads, LH with x (or some other shape)

marimbanotes.png

So first of all, it fixes the crazy inconsistent beaming, it's easy to read, it more resembles the music for other instruments. It's easy to see where the 3rd beat is, for example. I think it works well... ;)
No offense, but this is an awful idea. "X" noteheads in marimba music are already reserved generally for playing with the stick instead of the mallet. Famous example is in Schwantner "Velocities."

There needs to be a more concise method of beaming, perhaps using kneed beams to accomplish the distinction between hands.

EDIT: I'm going to look into this with my brother who is a professional percussionist. He might be able to shed some light on this.
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buster
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Re: Beautifying Mallet Percussion

Post by buster » 25 May 2016, 17:21

OK then. I'm not familiar with marimba. Maybe another shape then?

edit: my first idea was noteheads in a different color. But colors don't photocopy well, and publishers want to keep costs down, I sure that it's better if everything is in black ink. So then I thought maybe different shapes...

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