When should interpretation should become?

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
gogreen
Posts: 9
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 13:25
Contact:

When should interpretation should become?

Post by gogreen » 14 Apr 2018, 22:11

I’m working on a Grade 3 brass quintet, written for high school groups. The piece throughout includes many phrases with dotted eighth-sixteenth notes (see attached). I’ve written them that way, but I prefer their interpretation and performance to be as eighth notes with a sixteenth rest (second attached example). Is it best to leave them as written and explain their interpretation, or should I rewrite them all to the interpreted notation? I’m wondering when interpretation should become notation.
Attachments
Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 5.53.35 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 5.53.35 PM.png (24.72 KiB) Viewed 277 times
Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 5.56.17 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 5.56.17 PM.png (30.11 KiB) Viewed 277 times

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1216
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Apr 2018, 01:56

The slurs in example 1 mean to make breaks between the dotted eighths and sixteenths. If that is all you want, then the first example is simpler and therefore better.

However, if you want the value of exactly one eighth note, followed by a rest of exactly one sixteenth note, you will need to write it out as in example 2, preferably with the addition of a tenuto mark on the eighth note to prevent players from shortening it still further. If you don't want to use this somewhat complicated notation throughout, you could write it as in example 2 the first time or two in each part and then use the style of example 1 with a simile indication.

More generally, I agree with you that one should not try to notate things that are better left to the player's discretion. But one should notate things that the player cannot know without help. In my opinion, it is best if the help be provided strictly by means of musical notation rather than a verbal description of some kind.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

gogreen
Posts: 9
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 13:25
Contact:

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by gogreen » 15 Apr 2018, 18:12

Thanks, John, for your thoughtful comments. I'll probably just leave the notation as is. I want it to be clean and uncomplicated.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1216
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Apr 2018, 19:28

You are very welcome, gogreen. I agree completely; clean and uncomplicated is always best.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 997
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by OCTO » 16 Apr 2018, 18:55

I don't see exactly why the dotted 8 would be performed shorter, since there is no indication for that.
On the other hand, writing the second way (interpretation) makes another layer of probability - that it could be played even shorter than one eight.
My final comment is that the interpretation-notation should include also the staccato note, to be rewritten as one 16, if you go for that option.

Personally, I would make notation as simple as possible that reflects your or composer's intention. If you want shorter that 8 note, can a staccato make the right solution? Or staccato/tenuto?

Or just remove all staccatos and rests and write the tempo indication "grazioso" :)
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

Schonbergian
Posts: 119
Joined: 03 Feb 2017, 02:25
Location: Toronto

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by Schonbergian » 19 Apr 2018, 03:23

We've had discussions about "unmarked" articulation being shorter in the past here - but that was always in the context of a pre-Romantic piece, generally.

Depending on the overall style of your piece, it could be entirely appropriate as an implication or it might need additional clarification. My first thought is that the staccato on the last eighth of the first bar would warrant a contrast with the unmarked eighth (the one you refer to) If neither were explicitly marked staccato, I would play it as you wish (with a sixteenth taken off both eighth notes)

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1216
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by John Ruggero » 19 Apr 2018, 15:00

OCTO wrote:
16 Apr 2018, 18:55
I don't see exactly why the dotted 8 would be performed shorter, since there is no indication for that.
Schonbergian wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 03:23
We've had discussions about "unmarked" articulation being shorter in the past here - but that was always in the context of a pre-Romantic piece, generally.
I have always understood the notes of a slurred group in instrumental music to be both connected to each other and also shown to be separate in some way from the surrounding notes. This is the only way in which the grouping can be shown. The degree and means of separation depends totally on the situation, style, and instrumentation.

In the case of the OP, the style of example 1 would indicate a performance something like, but not necessarily identical to example 2. I think that most musicians would make a smaller break between the dotted eighth and sixteen than a sixteen rest, and this would be for the best. The exact amount of break is not really the point as long as it is consistent.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 19 Apr 2018, 22:46, edited 1 time in total.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

Schonbergian
Posts: 119
Joined: 03 Feb 2017, 02:25
Location: Toronto

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by Schonbergian » 19 Apr 2018, 21:38

John Ruggero wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 15:00
I have always understood the notes of a slurred group in instrumental music to be both connected to each other and also shown to be separate in some way from the surrounding notes. This is the only way in which the grouping can be shown. The degree and means of separation depends totally on the situation, style, and instrumentation.

In the case of the OP, the style of example 1 would indicate a performance something like, but not necessarily identical to example 2. I think that most musicians would make a smaller break between the dotted eighth and sixteen than a sixteen rest, and this would be for the best. The exact amount of break is not really the point and long as it is consistent.
I agree completely - my only point is that the explicit staccato on one note but not the others might muddy the waters.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1216
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by John Ruggero » 19 Apr 2018, 23:03

Sorry, Schonbergian, I don't quite get the second part of your post, since I don't think I ever referred to either eight note, just the dotted eighth and sixteenth. But if you think that the first eighth note of the pair in the first measure should also be marked staccato, that is certainly possible, although the slur implies a shortened first eighth note in any case. I think that I would take greater care to play both eighth notes equally short if they were both marked with a staccato dot.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

gogreen
Posts: 9
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 13:25
Contact:

Re: When should interpretation should become?

Post by gogreen » 20 Apr 2018, 20:59

Interesting points, all.

What got me thinking about the notation was that after I had changed all the dotted-eighth-sixteenths to eighth note-sixteenth rest-eighth note, I was concerned that the notation would suggest too short an initial note. So to keep it as clear and simple as possible, I left it as in the top example and explained what I want in director rehearsal and performance notes. This piece, by the way, is a Grade 3 (on a scale of ½ to 6), meant for good high school players with intermediate but advancing ensemble and musicianship skills.

Post Reply