Am I doing this wrong? Breaths and Pauses

• Oct 18, 2019 - 16:17

The answer is usually "yes", but I thought I'd ask.

Breath marks and caesura are applied as Staff elements, but they affect the playback of the entire system. If I want to use one of these elements, I currently have to insert them individually into each staff, or use CTRL-Select to choose the entry points. (Often forgetting to select one or more staves in a larger score.)

Is there no way to automatically apply these as System elements, wherein they would all take on the same value?

I do understand that only one breath or caesura in a system needs to have a value in any one place to affect playback, but for the sake of consistency, shouldn't they all carry the same value?

I also understand that breath marks can be used to indicate information to the performers without affecting the actual playback, and as such, may not be needed by all performers at the same instance.

So the question is, am I doing this wrong? Is there a way to add breaths and caesura as System elements that I am unaware of?


In reply to by mike320

Thanks, Mike.
The question remains: since all performers need to see these markings, why are they not available as System markings? (automatically applied to all parts)

I am aware of some possible arguments against this idea, but not insurmountable ones.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"Breaths certainly aren't necessarily common to all staves,"

No, not necessarily, which is why I was cautious to mention them in the same breath as caesura. It does occur often enough that it requires a lot of extra clicking to apply them across staves where a single click would do.

In reply to by toffle

I think pauses should be system items also since they are never used for only one instrument but let the others continue playing, so I have no explanation for why they were designed this way. (Maybe Aaron Copland did in The Curlew but I haven't seen that score and it would be quite exceptional)

One possible explanation is that there is nothing besides key and time signatures that propagate to every staff. A new method of showing the pauses on every staff would need to be formulated. I'm very much in favor of this because it could be used to duplicate system items above selected staves (like above the strings which is normal in symphonic music).

In reply to by mike320

Indeed, there is special casing for time and key signatures to allow them to propagate to all staves, but they aren't system elements - they really are added to each staff individually. It's just no one thought to do the same for pauses. I think just because they don't seem obviously different from other score markings (and indeed, share a palette with markings that definitely should not be treated that way), it probably wouldn't be a great idea to do this by default, but I'm growing to really like this Shift+double+click idea. Chances are there are other little tweaks we could make to how one interacts with the palette, and of course, now is a good time to be thinking about palette interaction changes - maybe not for 3.3., but it's fair game for 3.3.1 I think.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Allowing an option to show something above every instrument or selected instruments would a good way to implement this. I would default the pauses to be on every staff so if there is a case where someone doesn't want it on each staff, they could limit which staves they are displayed on. Pauses are system items since they affect playback of the entire score. In the case of system text items of all types, they could default to being only above the first visible instrument with the option of adding them to other instruments.

Shift double click is a very good idea for dynamics. The problem with using it for pauses is that pauses follow notes, not coincide with them. If you have a whole note in a measure in one instrument and another instrument has 16th notes and another 1/4 notes you will never be able to use the shift double click method to get satisfactory results for pauses.

In reply to by mike320

A possible problem that may occur is that someone may try to insert a global marking that is incompatible with the other parts, for example, applying a caesura in one part while another part is holding a note. In a perfect world, MS would block such an action with a warning of the conflict, but that may complicate the process beyond what the programmers wish to address.

Another question that comes to mind, is which instance of the pause, breath, or whatever, would possess the "knobs" to control the effect? At present, only one breath or caesura marking need contain a value for it to affect the entire system. Is it easiest to simply duplicate the element in each part with identical properties? What would happen if you decide to change the length of the caesura? Would the new value be copied to all instances?

In reply to by toffle

This is a good point. I am a fan of allowing the user the freedom to do what they want and I didn't consider this. Perhaps the program could look at each staff (like it would need to at some point any way) and not put a pause in the middle of a note. Leave it to the user to tell the program what they want.

Note: I don't count a breath mark as a pause, those are instrument specific.

In reply to by mike320

"Note: I don't count a breath mark as a pause, those are instrument specific."

There are breath marks, and there are breath marks. Sometimes they are used synonymously with pauses, and as such apply to the whole score. In any case, if you provide a value to a breath mark in MS, it pauses the playback much the same a caesura or fermata.

In reply to by toffle

It is wildly different from a fermata in that fermata inserts tempo controls around itself, that appear in MIDI files. Breath marks break measures and insert bogus silent measure in the MIDI output, damaging some tools' measure-counting... if you don't use MIDI output, this doesn't matter, but .... just mentioning ...

In reply to by mike320

You mean, an option that could be applied to any element, not just pauses? Not sure I'm understanding the suggestion. But it seems like an extra level of complexity above and beyond just making it easy to add them to all staves at once. My impression is that it would be more common to show the pause on all staves. Gould says to put them on all staves unless they are directly over a barline, in which case put them over each section only, interesting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely in favor of making it possible to customize where system elements show (options to appear above system, below system, above/belove sections are defined by brackets or whatever, etc). It's just a bigger issue than making it easy to actually add the pauses to all staves as one would normally want..

And yes, in order for the Shift+double+click thing to work well for pauses, we'd need to change the palette behavior to add them before the selected note/rest. Which actually isn't such a bad idea in general, I think it's been discussed before.

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