Fermata time stretch

• Sep 15, 2018 - 13:09

Default value of fermata's time stretch is 1.0, which means that when you add Fermata to score, you should change fermata's time stretch manually. I think it will be better if default value of fermata's time stretch will be, for instance, 2.5 because probably, it is the most frequent number.


Keeping the default to 1 and forcing the user to change it is actually better. When a user changes the stretch on any fermata, all of the instruments play the longest stretch on that beat. Currently, only one fermata (I usually choose the one on the first instrument) needs to be changed if you want more than a stretch of 1 (which is normally the case). If you change the default to anything else, and you want the stretch to less than that default, you will be required to change every fermata on the beat.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I remember a discussion from several months ago where someone suggested that fermatas become system items. The idea has merits as well as some problems. Fermatas are not always on the same length note. Sometimes one instrument will have a half note with a fermata while another instrument has 2 quarter notes with the fermata on the second one only. There are other mind boggling combinations that will make placement of the fermata ambiguous. I've seen a 4/4 measure with whole notes in some instruments while the fermata is actually on the 3rd beat and some instruments have a different note on beat 4. This is in published music written by classical composers you have heard of. The current system is sufficient to handle these oddities. I wrote a measure where a few instruments have fermatas on a couple of beats, while the rest of the orchestra has a single fermata on a measure rest. I have a vague memory of seeing this before but I'm not positive. None-the-less, this situation would need to be considered if fermatas were made system items.

There are two advantages to making the fermata a system item. First is that it is easy to change the stretch on all instruments at once and not need to look at all of the fermatas to remember which one you changed the stretch on. Second is that there would be only one fermata to place rather than several, which can get tedious in some of the scoree I previously mentioned. If this route were chosen, I would suggest it get attached to a point in time in a manner similar to Tempo changes. This would allow the user to place the fermata on the shortest note and it be displayed centered on all notes (or rests) on the same beat.

Fermatas on barlines are basically an alternate way of creating a caesura, normally at the end of a movement. I have previously suggested allowing users to change the item displayed in a custom palette, so if you want a real X rather than a note head, you can get a real X displayed or a fermata rather than a caesura and it would play back correctly.

In reply to by mike320

In some ways I agree with you that making the fermata a system item would be "easier" for some cases. But unfortunately composers have a way of throwing in multiple fermatas relating to a different note duration: see the attached score fragment - in measure 2 Cécile Chaminade requires three fermatas in different staves, each relating to a different note value. So I am really not supporting the idea of changing the default stretch value for the fermata from 1.0 to 2.5 (or to any other default value). It's surely simpler just to stay with 1.0 as the default - and then the composer (or transcriber) has to decide exactly what is needed in each case?

Attachment Size
Fermata_test.mscz 19.84 KB

In reply to by DanielR

I mentioned possibilities such as this without a specific example. I'm not in favor of making a fermata a system item, I tried to be fair show advantages to each way, but in the end I agree making a fermata a system item would lead to problems and require undesirable workarounds.

In reply to by mike320

Something I've just come across may enhance your discussion. While I know nothing about the digital aspect of the problem ("system item") I can say with assurance that the examples you've mentioned are abundant. It was the norm to account for every line, as in the Chaminade example provided by DanielR, with fermatas on whole notes, 8ths and a 16th rest. The 20th century saw some new ideas. In the example from a work of mine I have this passage. There are TWO considerations: performance and MuseScore notation.
The mezzo's fermata is brief (1.33)
In the bass note B-flat eighth, I've omitted the fermata. There was no discernable difference from when it was included. When I put the piano fermata on the following b minor chord (quarter), it anticipated the b octaves in the ascending treble line. Not good. As for playback, with no difference, why include a fermata on the bass 8th note? The real decision occurs in the real world score.But - I'd say any pianist with or without a fermata would know what to do with the mezzo's fermata.

From your discussion it seems improvements are on the way. Being able to have a barline fermata would fine.

BTW - I've included the 3rd measure in the example to show where the galactic collisions between words, ties, notes and slurs originally occurred. You've solved this for me in another thread.

Attachment Size
excerpt from Emily Dickinson song.mscz 13.45 KB

In reply to by penne vodka

From you comment it sounds like you are not aware that you can select a barline and apply a fermata to it. Selecting the fermata and pressing X will make it upside down and placed at the bottom of the barline. It just has no effect on playback at the current time. Normally this is not issue, because they are most commonly used at the end of movements; so section breaks, which do have a silence setting, should be placed in the same spot.

In reply to by mike320

Actually, I am aware and have used them, knowing they do not effect playback (the score itself being essential). The purpose of the thread was to verify what was your "vague memory" about such. Coincidentally I ran into the thread when I was fussing with the fermata in my piano part. I was also curious to see where others would put that fermata in contemporary times in a song in a traditional mold. The composer I've studied with was a fanatic about precise notation, but performance being what it is, I can only fuss so much with certain concerns. (But the discussions of such remain interesting.) :)
Thanks for responding.

In reply to by Howard-C

Were you replying to my comment? If so, you misunderstood me: I am not advocating for a change in the way fermata work, I am suggesting an addition to the documentation of how fermata work. (Again, I recognize that some may feel this is superfluous, inasmuch as the behavior, being the easiest and most "natural" way to deal with the possibility of different fermata lengths, seems "obvious"; but what is "obvious" to some may not be "obvious" to all, and given that there presently appears to be no documentation whatsoever in the Handbook regarding how overlapping fermata over notes/ rests of different notated duration are performed, I just feel like this is a hole which should be filled for the sakes of clarity and completeness.)

In reply to by mike320

"When a user changes the stretch on any fermata, all of the instruments play the longest stretch on that beat": in a score I've been entering, with fermata over different note/rest lengths at the end of a bar, I've been thinking that I've needed to calculate different time stretch factors for the different fermata so they'd all end at the same time. Perhaps it's been considered "obvious" behavior--and thus unnecessary to document--but IMO this operation of fermata should be clearly stated in the Handbook (even if only parenthetically). Thanks!

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