Another beaming lesson - please!

• Jun 30, 2020 - 20:22

I'm using auto-beaming and just wondering what the rules are that make this layout:


preferable to either of these:

1.png     2.png


The general idea is that beams are supposed to just you complete beats or complete beat groups. So in 4/4, the beams very quickly divide the measure between the first two beats and second two beats when using eighths, or into individual beats when using sixteenth. That way one can instantly see and recognize the rhythms.

So the first very clearly shows the first four notes all encompassing the first half of the measure, and the last three notes encompassing the last beat. Only beat three requires even the slightest bit of thought to figure out, and it's a very slight bit of thought. A few people do show beams over the rest to clarify even those cases, but it's not the standard.

Anyhow, your other examples fail that test. They show the first half the measure just fine, but they obliterate the clear statement of beat 4 that was in the original. You can't tell at a moment's glance where beat 4 is in either of them the way you can in the original - it's right where the beam starts. In fact, you can practically take that to the bank: beat starts where the beam starts, has a nice ring...

In reply to by yonah_ag

Mostly it does. The one place where it doesn't by default is in 4/4, three eighth notes followed by an eighth rest starting with beat 1 (or 3). Here, one should not beam all three together or else it will look too much like a triplet. You will need to manually unbeam that third eighth in these cases.

In reply to by yonah_ag

No. It's complicated to detect, because we actually make beaming decisions like this before we've seen the full measure. So there is no easy fix, it would require some redesign of the algorithm overall.

FWIW, it doesn't come up that often in real world scores because most the time in situations like this, the third note would be notated as a quarter note, possibly staccato if you really wanted to emphasize the shortness of the note but that might be implied anyhow just by the phrasing.

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