How to notate a chromatic glissando?

Hi all,

I'm cleaning up the score of one of my orchestral pieces, and I'm stumped by how to notate the following: I have the strings play long descending chromatic scales (fingered, not a sliding glissando) in 32nd notes. For the purposes of MIDI I wrote out every note, but for obvious reasons this makes the score hard to read. What's the best way to notate this?  Basically, the intention is to have a deliberately messy-sounding descending chromatic scale where the notes are (approximately) individually bowed. The gliss starts at a fixed pitch and ends (approximately) at a fixed pitch.  What's the best way to notate this that doesn't result in a mass of 32nd notes that clutter the page? The gliss spans about 2 octaves, so some kind of abbreviated notation would probably be necessary.

I looked up various notations of glissando, but am doubtful which one conveys what I want, since most sources on string glissando notation focus on the gliding variety (where you drag your finger up/down the string in a single bow stroke), whereas what I want is a bowed, tremolo-like glissando sound.

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  • From the way you describe it, I can't see any other way than to notate it, if anything because fingering is important although violinists will likely choose fingering they're most comfortable with.

    If it covers more than an octave you could probably write in the first octave then use a gliss line with "sim" over the top for the rest, landing on your terminal note. That's how I'd do it, anyway.

    Good luck! 

    • Thanks, Dane!

  • Elaine Gould in her book on notation Behind Bars (which has become standard and which everyone writing any type of music should have a copy of) says "When a glissando s ia scale of chromatic semitones, these should be notated in full, either as measured notes or as grace notes.  Include the instruction chrom ..."

    The book gives an example, as well as some other comments on glissando notation.


    • Thanks, Jon! I will definitely look into purchasing a copy of Behind Bars.

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