More Beaming

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
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John Ruggero
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Re: More Beaming

Post by John Ruggero »

I recall other beaming situations (I believe it had to do with large intervals) in which the Dorico defaults are incorrect, but Finale (non-Patterson) gives the expected and correct result. I think that the Dorico designers need to study what Finale does with beaming. I saw a basic principle at work in Finale that they were not making use of.

In any case, I agree heartily about context. Do what fits the music best and what looks right.
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NeeraWM
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Re: More Beaming

Post by NeeraWM »

Fred G. Unn wrote:
27 Sep 2022, 13:06
I did a little experiment a year or so ago trying to figure out how to get Dorico to match Ted Ross and UE beaming exactly since they both have precisely prescribed examples. After a deep dive into it, I have to admit I'm not really a fan of some of the UE examples. Much of beaming is very subjective, but I would suggest that a few of the UE beaming examples are actually objectively wrong. For example, in the below 4th patterns, the first and third downstemmed beams should never end in hang, only sit or straddle. Prescribing hang there just looks wrong IMO.

Image
Yes, I recall finding your shared settings for Dorico's beaming slants and, thanks to that, I can get near to an acceptable result in Dorico, even if I always need more adjustments than I would like to do.
While I've been trained on UE standards, I am not following them religiously, rather changing anything that doesn't look good.
The interval of a fourth is one of the most delicate ones, and Dorico for example gets this almost consistently wrong (i.e.: too slanted, not respecting the 1 space max slant limit even if set up in Engraving Options). In the examples you mentioned, could you elaborate on the reason why the beam hanging is bad? Is there some specific rule mentioned somewhere that should at least be considered? I can see the end-beam be lowered to the lower staff-line, but not raised as then it would become too slanted to me.

In my experience, UE slants make sense only if the example is exactly the same, i.e., two notes of that duration. Otherwise, it may be good or it may not be. Still, UE seems to be the only modern publisher to have at least created such a document besides Ted Ross' book. Is there any one else that may have such a classification?

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: More Beaming

Post by Fred G. Unn »

NeeraWM wrote:
27 Sep 2022, 16:31
[In the examples you mentioned, could you elaborate on the reason why the beam hanging is bad? Is there some specific rule mentioned somewhere that should at least be considered?
As far as I can tell, here are the rules Ross follows on pages 104-111, although I'm not sure he ever states them quite so succinctly:

Image

I'll have to double check, but I'm pretty sure that he follows those rules without any exceptions at all on the pages demonstrating beam angles, as long as the beam is contained in the staff. Of course, he's not terribly consistent in other areas of the book, and some beams, like those on page A28, are laughably bad, breaking his own prescriptions for both start and endpoints LOL.

NeeraWM
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Re: More Beaming

Post by NeeraWM »

I see now: if an ascending beam hands, a triangle will be formed with any staff-line (apply the same reasoning to other cases).
Fascinating, I had never looked at it this way.

On your last sentence: are we possibly more "nerds" than even Mr Ross was? :-D

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: More Beaming

Post by Fred G. Unn »

NeeraWM wrote:
27 Sep 2022, 19:51
On your last sentence: are we possibly more "nerds" than even Mr Ross was? :-D
Definitely possible! :) :) :)

JJP
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Re: More Beaming

Post by JJP »

I think we all agree that an ascending hanging beam end creates a triangle. What are the rationales for this being discouraged? I know that traditionally such shapes caused printing issues. However, today, printing is much sharper in many cases... but I think we should still be conservative.

Personally, I dislike the triangles because they create visual noise inside the beam which reduces clarity. When reading quickly they can appear similar to an additional flag or a feathered beam. That probably won't lead to an error, but it's one more thing to demand more attention from the performer. Why do that when the whole issue can be avoided with a sitting or straddled beam?

I'm curious to hear other thoughts.
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NeeraWM
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Re: More Beaming

Post by NeeraWM »

In the end I consider every case where I see a triangle. Sometimes it is plainly bad, sometimes it is ok, especially if there are only two notes and thus no extra stem in between.
I've recently prepared an edition of the First Cello Suite by Bach and tried to imitate Barenreiter (either 2000, or 2010 blue edition, not the old green one) in their beaming. Generally, they do avoid triangles at all costs, but this approach results in flatter beams overall.
So, you see, one tries to avoid something and falls into the pit next to it.

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John Ruggero
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Re: More Beaming

Post by John Ruggero »

JJP wrote:
28 Sep 2022, 01:47
I think we all agree that an ascending hanging beam end creates a triangle. What are the rationales for this being discouraged? I know that traditionally such shapes caused printing issues. However, today, printing is much sharper in many cases... but I think we should still be conservative.

Personally, I dislike the triangles because they create visual noise inside the beam which reduces clarity. When reading quickly they can appear similar to an additional flag or a feathered beam. That probably won't lead to an error, but it's one more thing to demand more attention from the performer. Why do that when the whole issue can be avoided with a sitting or straddled beam?

I'm curious to hear other thoughts.
In looking at hand engraving, one certainly sees the avoidance of triangles, both because of "visual noise" and aesthetics as well as possibly the mechanics of hand engraving and printing. However, one also sees the consistent non-avoidance of triangles for musical and contextual reasons. It appears to me that while these engravers must have used tables and rules of thumb, they balanced these against other factors, and were very concerned about the musical impression conveyed by the notation. Keeping the beams entirely on the staff lines can lead to very unmusical results, as seen in some recent editions. A lack of concern about "visual noise" can lead to a ugliness and difficulty in reading. As implied by NeeraWM's last post above, the trick is to steer a middle course. While this does require a human operator, I do think that software could get a lot closer to than it does now. But that would require that context be taken into account.
2020 M1 Mac mini (OS 12.4), 2014 Mac mini (OS 10.12), Dual monitors, Finale 27 & 25.5, GPO 4, InDesign CS4, SmartScore X Pro, JW Plug-ins, TG Tools, Keyboard maestro

http://www.cantilenapress.com

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: More Beaming

Post by Fred G. Unn »

This is just speculation, but I've wondered if those rules were originally designed to give the engraver a bit of wiggle room in case the beam wasn't perfectly engraved. If an ascending beam can end in Hang, it doesn't take much of an error before the beam is positioned off any staff line at all. Leaving the beam floating out in a space looks even worse to my eye.

Image

By prescribing Sit or Straddle the engraver has a bit more leeway with positioning. What began as a practical consideration evolved into an aesthetic one as that's the way better engraving was handled for decades, and is the way we are all accustomed to seeing beams handled. I can't find a source to back this up, but it does seem like it could be a possibility anyway.

JJP
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Re: More Beaming

Post by JJP »

Thank you both for your thoughts. I raised this because I have never seen a definitive explanation, as you both indicate. There has been apparent consensus on much of this, but few explanations as to "why" which can be codified.

I tack George Orwell's final rule for writing to the end of any list of engraving rules: "Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous." It seems many of us do the same in the rare cases where the rules create undesired results. Nonetheless, I prefer to have solid reasoning behind decisions. It's always helpful when everyone in the room gathers around someone's table to discuss an issue and formulate a resolution which we all agree to follow.
There is no computer problem so complex that it cannot be solved by a sledge hammer.

Symbols of Sound - music preparation and consulting

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