Question about Notation

Hello, everyone! I look forward to joining in on some musical discussions as most of my peers aren't all that into sitting for hours deciding between a "dotted eighth and a sixteenth" and a "quarter note, eighth note" triplet.

My question is what would be the best way to notate this measure? The first version is how I had it because that's how I envisioned the notes coming in. I was given advice to change it to multiple lines/voices, which made the overall score look much better, but this one measure seems off to me. Is it okay to have the rests floating way up in the middle of nowhere like that? Is it better to have them lined up evenly, or should they be as low as possible above the notes they hover over?

Thanks for your help!

vs:

1 Étude No. 2 - v2.pdf

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Replies

  • Hi Matt,

    Is this for piano? Because if it is, you could try notating the measure as all quarter notes and just sustaining with the pedal to the third or fourth beat (assuming you are satisfied with the sound). In general, I think the second version is hard to read, the first, while a bit unusual, is not.

    Best - 

    Gav

  • Yes, this is for piano. I just added the whole score to my post as well. There are several other places where I think adding two voices did make it more clear; in many cases I did use the pedal to connect everything, which worked great. The posted measure (number 24 in the piece) just seemed odd, which you confirmed for me. I think you're right though: they're all chord tones so it probable makes sense to just sustain them all.

    In a more general sense, what does one do with rests when using multiple voices? To they stay even with each other, or should they stay as close to the middle of the staff as they can get?

    Thanks!

  • Indeed, it looks much better. Thanks for the advice!

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  • I try to keep the rests vertically close to the line they are related to, even if it means moving things out of the way horizontally. If the default positioning created by the notation program is not too far off that, I tend to leave it alone. The positioning you have here seems ok to me (e.g., m 9), though I wonder if it would sound any worse if notated as all quarters, as you did in other places (e.g., m 37)

    Matt Baker said:

    In a more general sense, what does one do with rests when using multiple voices? To they stay even with each other, or should they stay as close to the middle of the staff as they can get?

    Thanks!

  • Thanks, Jon! I will look into that book, though the price might dictate how long it is before I own it. I'm mostly writing for fun and maybe to have my elementary students (or the local middle school) play stuff, so I'm not overly concerned with technical accuracy, but I would like to get in the ballpark of best practices, hence my questions. "If it is easy to read and conveys how it should be played, you are on safe ground." Just what I hoped to hear! :)

    Matt


    Jon Corelis said:

    I believe the most authoritative work in English on musical notation is generally considered to be Behind Bars by Elaine Gould (Faber Music 2011.)  She goes into rests on piano scores in some detail (pp. 310ff).  The discussion is too complex for me to summarize here (and I don't really have the knowledge to do it accurately,) but some of her examples do show rests floating above the staff.

    This book is somewhat expensive, but in my opinion every composer should have their own copy if they can possibly afford it.

    Question about Notation
    Hello, everyone! I look forward to joining in on some musical discussions as most of my peers aren't all that into sitting for hours deciding between…
  • Thanks, Michael. I just realized I accidentally quoted you in my response to Jon, but I'll reiterate here that I appreciate your insights!


    Matt

    michael diemer said:

    Technically I think the first is correct, but Gav is right, the third looks better. I just don't know enough about piano notation. Either will convey the intent. I agree, you need a good manual. but like everything else, there is not 100% agreement on how to notate correctly. There are so many special cases for different instruments. In general, if it is easy to read and conveys how it should be played, you are on safe ground. The rest is a matter of how far you want to go in terms of getting it absolutely perfect.

    Question about Notation
    Hello, everyone! I look forward to joining in on some musical discussions as most of my peers aren't all that into sitting for hours deciding between…
  • That book name keeps coming around, I see it mentioned in multiple forums. I think I shall buy it ($40 on Amazon) - 

  • The third version is more to the point than the others. I really depends on what instrument you  are writing for. The first version is not for piano. The second might be a piano reduction, besides being hard to read.

    Know your target instrument. I'm not sure there is any such thing as perfect notation. The player is the final arbiter. 

  • Thanks for the insight, Bob. The problem I have composing for piano is that I learned piano on my own after learning guitar, so I think and play it more like a guitar (more chord/fills focused); I mostly try to write out how I hear or play it--or would play it, were I talented enough to play all my compositions--which is why I sought feedback on how competent sight readers would interpret it. 

    Bob Porter said:

    The third version is more to the point than the others. I really depends on what instrument you  are writing for. The first version is not for piano. The second might be a piano reduction, besides being hard to read.

    Know your target instrument. I'm not sure there is any such thing as perfect notation. The player is the final arbiter. 

    Question about Notation
    Hello, everyone! I look forward to joining in on some musical discussions as most of my peers aren't all that into sitting for hours deciding between…
  • Matt,

    If you read piano music I would suggest looking at a lot of it to see how others have notated things. If you play by ear, I guess you have to go with you gut. But in general simpler is better. As long as number three gives you the effect you want, go for it. 

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