Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

stupid notation question

Related threads:
Time Signatures: 2/4 or 4/4 time.... (60)
12 tone music explained -- 30 min vid. (1)
Question about musical notation (47)
Music Theory: Who is W.A. Mathieu? (6)
Why Only 7 letter names? (31)
Unequal temperament (46)
Helmholtz: Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen... (7)
harmony vs. melody (51)
Online printable music paper source (55)
Basic Music Theory Question (62)
Time Signature help needed... (7)
tone vs pitch (36)
help with music theory (19)
Origins of music: new theory (18)
Music Question: Improvisors? (82)
Scared of Music theory? Faggggedaboudit! (120)
Music Theory:Number Notes Need? (30)
2 ideas for technique/theory study (3)
Tunes rule OK? Or chords? (34)
How to train one's ear? (8)
Music Theory/Arrangement Question? (38)
Another Music Theory Question (6)
Theory questions that make me nuts-- (24)
US / UK differences - music theory (12)
Link for music theory and tunings (3)

MMario 29 May 03 - 04:20 PM
GUEST 29 May 03 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,MCP 29 May 03 - 04:33 PM
M.Ted 29 May 03 - 04:45 PM
Burke 29 May 03 - 05:44 PM
MMario 29 May 03 - 07:40 PM
JohnInKansas 29 May 03 - 08:20 PM
IvanB 30 May 03 - 02:23 PM
MMario 30 May 03 - 02:41 PM
Frankham 30 May 03 - 07:59 PM
M.Ted 30 May 03 - 10:22 PM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: stupid notation question
From: MMario
Date: 29 May 03 - 04:20 PM

while transcribing various song tunes for the "great tune hunt" I come across some odd (to me) notations which I have to wonder if there is a reason for.

(boy! I should submit that sentence to the "bad writing" thread!)

for example - in the current tune there are a number of places where there are tied eighth notes. they are marked as tied, not slurred; and they are at the same pitch. Often they are followed by a quarter note at the same pitch!

What would be the reason for this?

And could anyone explain to me the difference between alla breve, common time and 4/4 time? (or for that matter - what's the true difference between 4/4 time 2/2 time and 8/8?)

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
Date: 29 May 03 - 04:31 PM

i think the difference is the number of beats in each measure....

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
Date: 29 May 03 - 04:33 PM


Vocal scores will often show same notes tied when different lengths are used with the words in different verses (eg A-A for in the in one verse, but A2 for while in another, notated as A-A in the score).

Common time and 4/4 are equivalent. Alla breve has a 2 beat to the bar feel rather than a 4 beat feel.

8/8 is used often when the music has irregular 1/8 note beat patterns within the bar (eg AAA AAA AA) and often changing from bar to bar.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 May 03 - 04:45 PM

I'd have to see the notation to figure out why they are tied--generally, you wouldn't see tied eighth notes very often, because there are simpler ways to notate the same idea--exceptions could be situations where syncopation is involved(in jazz, eight notes are generally played as if each count was a triplet), or when the notes are part of a longer series of eight notes and it works out to be easier to read if they are written that way. Another possibility could be that the notation was done by converting a MIDI file with a notation program, and not cleaned up.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: Burke
Date: 29 May 03 - 05:44 PM

When you look at older sheet music the 8th notes are only tied when sung on the same word & they are flagged if separate words. In some music set recently it's not uncommon to have all the 8th notes tied in pairs regardless of the words. This is if the notes are different or the same. It might be a function of newer music notation software, or just some recent music convention. I've seen it a lot lately in choir music. I find it maddening.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: MMario
Date: 29 May 03 - 07:40 PM

Burke - do you mean tied or barred?

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 May 03 - 08:20 PM

When two notes are "tied" they are always at the same pitch. It's just a slightly different way of telling you "how long the note lasts.

Two eighth notes tied togeter are played just exactly as if a single quarter note had been written.

An obvious place for using the tie is when the first eighth note is at the end of a measure, and you want the note to last through an eighth note of the following measure. Many tunes also have a "basic beat, so if you would expect to play an eighth note - but it is sustained, the eighth note you "expect" is written explicitly and tied to a following note to tell you to "hold on to it."

By maintaining a "pattern" in the notation, it is much easier to read.

Two notes of different pitch joined by the same "arcish" symbol as the "tie" are a slur, and the meaning is that you go from the first note to the second "without an attack" on the second note. Generally, a short space is played between notes - that isn't notated, so that there is a distinct "stop one note before you start the next." The slur tells you that there shouldn't be a "gap." It does not mean you should "slide the pitch from one note into the next," which should be notated as a "glissando" if that's what the composer really wanted. In practice though, slurs are often played with a slight "bend-into" the second note.

In the time signature, the number on top tells you what how many beats are in a measure, and the note on the bottom tells you what "note value" gets one beat. Technically, it's not a fraction, but you can "rationalize" it as if it was. A tune written in 4-4 time can be played as though in 2-2 time, or even in 1-1. A tune writen in 3-4 time can be played as though in 6-8, and it will sound the same if the pattern of the "beats" is not changed.

By convention certain time signatures imply a "beat," telling you which "beats" of the measure are accented - played a little stronger; although a separate notation is really needed if you want this to be clear.

Tunes in 6-8 are probably most ambiguous. Marches are frequently written in 6-8 time, but always played two beats to a measure, with "three eighth notes" to the beat. (Maybe they should be noted as 1.5-2?) Polkas written as 6-8 sometimes are played 3 beats to the measure and sometimes 2 beats to the measure, depending on the "national tradition" being respected. The key to using the 6 numerator for the notation is that the "beat" to which the tune is played contains 6 "steps" per measure, either three "duplets" or two "triplets."

The tune called Carolan's Argument with His Landlady is a classic example of writing in an "unexpected" time signature so that it sounds like the "usual one." You may, in fact, find it rewritten "like the landlady wanted it" by those not "in" on the joke.

Common time (C) and "cut-common" (the slashed C) are both written identically to what you would show in 4-4 time. The "slash" means that you should play it "two beats to the measure," so it could have been written as 2-2 time. (It doesn't mean "play it really fast," as some seem to believe.)

A hundred years ago, a lot of stuff was notated with the half note getting one beat. The only real difficulty with that is that is that it gets hard to "count the flagbars" on all those hemi-demi-semi-quavers. Convention now is generally to use the eighth or quarter note for the "one-count" in notation, even when a different count is expected in playback.

The first requirement for written notation is that it accurately shows the notes to be played, and when and for how long each note continues to be played. The second "need" is that it be easy for the performer to read - and that's the main source for what may look like "unnatural" use of tied notes in place of the "whole note value" that could be substituted.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: IvanB
Date: 30 May 03 - 02:23 PM

Another notation convention is that, to be strictly correct, if the time signature is in quarters, a quarter note should only fall on the beat. Thus, a measure of 4/4 time which started with an eighth then a quarter would be technically incorrect, since the quarter would fall on the half beat. The correct notation in this case would be an eighth note followed by tied eighth notes.

That said, I think it's honored more in the breach and I certainly am not uncomfortable reading music with quarters/halves whathaveyou starting on the half beat.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: MMario
Date: 30 May 03 - 02:41 PM

well - duh! That *is* probably it! I just hadn't run across it before - but now that I check - that is true of the examples I am running across!

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: Frankham
Date: 30 May 03 - 07:59 PM


This isn't applicable to jazz style notation. Often, one will see an eighth note at the beginning of the bar followed by a quarter note then another eighth. The reason to tie two eighth notes together is when the eighth note falls on the second half of the second beat and you tie it to an eighth note that falls on the first half of the third beat. This is a common form of jazz syncopation..found in pop music and blues as well. To tie the eighths across the second and third beat makes for faster and easier reading (for example in a jazz band section).


The convention for tying two eighth notes together in vocal music is to allow for two syllables on one line of a first stanza and the equivalent single syllable at the same spot on the second line of a stanza when the two lines are written one over the other under the notes. It could be the reverse as well. Line of first stanza...single syllable
...line of second stanza...two syllables at the same spot.

Music is awful to talk about, isn't it? It's so much easier to understand it when you hear it.

Frank Hamilton

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: stupid notation question
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 May 03 - 10:22 PM

Music is hard to talk about. It reminds me of that Zen Koan to the effect that you can't teach unless the student understands already--with music, even then it is hard!

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 12 April 9:55 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.