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Topic: Best way to score difficult meters??

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  1. #1

    Best way to score difficult meters??

    The discussion of writing out odd time changes was bogging down another thread so I hoped we could continue it here...

  2. #2

    Question Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    If I well understand, conductors and performers ask for a more direct rendition of the internal basic rithm of complex meters:

    1) semplification: if 7 is 4+3, you can write two bars 4 and 3; if 7 is 2+3+2, again you can write 3 bars etc.

    2) clean writing: if the internal division is very complex or not natural (as in polirithmic writing can happen, or due to forced complex rithmic seriality) the way to write it is again very important, and the performer will read it easily if group of notes and bars are showing the basic accent distribution, divided in binary or ternary elements sequence, and isolating irreguliar groups.

    In the composition class, my professors were asking exactly for this approach, and considered an error to fix, every different use of notation (of course if not justified by some temporary and voluntary effect, that must be immediately evident and understandable).

  3. #3

    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Another of the very, very important aspect is how the bar lines in eighths and sixteenths are connected and broken. Everything should look logical and organized. If you are composing a piece in 7/8 and the beat division is 2+2+3, then an eighth note run would be broken up the same way.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  4. #4
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    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Fred, I posted this yesterday in the originating thread, so I'll just repost it here since it seems apt to the topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by scottnorma
    Since the conductor is saying that it would yield a better performance by dividing the 7/4 into two or three measures, then that is something I would seriously consider doing, because he's studied the score and he knows his orchestra. But if for some reason you feel very strongly about keeping it in 7/4 (perhaps it's an extended 7/4 section and you don't want so many meter changes to clutter the linear visual flow, etc.), an alternative visual aid to help the players more readily delineate the rhythmic breakdown is to use either dotted barlines within the 7/4 meter, or rhythmic grouping brackets within the 7/4 meter. Which one you would use depends on the note values and rhythmic groupings used predominantly in those bars, but you'd need to choose just one solution and use it consistently throughout.

    For example, if the rhythms are predominantly 8ths & 16ths, then you'd probably want to use dotted bar lines. But if the rhythms are predominantly the slower, non-beamed notes, then using rhythmic grouping brackets might be better. It all really depends on the rhythmic and visual context, and the simplest possible solution with the least visual clutter that will help make the rhythms more immediate to the players is the one you should use - that is, if you feel strongly compelled to retain the 7/4.

  5. #5

    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    In the Jess's composition seminar I posted a somewhat similar question. Since this thread is addressing the question specifically I thought I'd ask here too.

    I have written a piece with five explicit changes in time (6/8, 9/8, 6/4, 4/4, and 6/8) and at least one implicit change. The tempo stays the same. There are a lot of different ways of notating this. For example, it would be possible to change the tempo and change the type of notes. The effect I want is a precise relation between tempo in the various sections. How is something like this usually done? What makes most sense/is easiest for performers?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  6. #6
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    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Chet, I'd need to see the actual context of what it is you're talking about. Devising notation solutions in these types of situations depends so much on a number of contextual considerations.

  7. #7

    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Quote Originally Posted by chet reinhardt
    In the Jess's composition seminar I posted a somewhat similar question. Since this thread is addressing the question specifically I thought I'd ask here too.

    I have written a piece with five explicit changes in time (6/8, 9/8, 6/4, 4/4, and 6/8) and at least one implicit change. The tempo stays the same. There are a lot of different ways of notating this. For example, it would be possible to change the tempo and change the type of notes. The effect I want is a precise relation between tempo in the various sections. How is something like this usually done? What makes most sense/is easiest for performers?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    Hi Chet,

    simpliest form would be to have this (eights 3+3, eights 3+3+3, quarter 2+2+2 or 3+3, quarter 4, and eights 3+3). But like Scott it depends on the phrase etc. you're trying to do, what solution is the best one.
    Sincerely,
    Falcon1


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  8. #8

    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    So Fabio, you're saying that is is better to have several short measures of a standard meter than one longer odd one- 2+2+3 is preferable to 7??

    I'll try to remember to bring home and post a PDF of something I did recently.

    I can't accurately remember how it goes but it's a strange one to write out *lol*

  9. #9

    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Here's a link to the score.

    http://www.dog-on-blues.co.za/gpo/JH_S1_E2.pdf

    The phrases are fairly simple, it is in the relation between the sections that my uncertainty lies. Of course the constant tempo approach can lead to some funny notation but it seems conceptually clearer when possible.

  10. #10
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    Re: Best way to score difficult meters??

    Chet,

    I looked at your layout and the only thing I'd change is the begining meter. I'd change the 12/16 to 6/8. As long as you have a clear explanation when it changes to 4/4 about the eighth = eighth, I don't see a problem.

    My personal preference about the use of unusual meters is if the music contains a repeating pattern of 2/8 then 3/8 then 2/8, just write it as 7/8. In college I wrote a piece in 15/8 that startled everyone at first. But once they played the composition it made sense to them and there were no problems.

    If a conductor specifies a preference for his/her orchestra do it that way. Whatever gets the best performance.

    The most unusual meter I've ever encountered is:
    2 + 2/3 of an eighth note triplet/4. (where what would have been the 3rd note of the triplet became the downbeat of the next bar) There probably was a simpler way of writing this, but the composer sometimes did things like this just to be different.

    JT

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