Query about tremolo notation

• Jan 25, 2021 - 10:17

If I want to have what looks like a minim tremolo I place two crotchets (quarter notes) side by side, then use the tremolo panel - usually with 3 lines to indicate a fairly fast tremolo.

On the page this then looks like two minims with the short angled lines between. Looking at scores by composers such as Brahms, Schubert and Mendelssohn, shouldn't the angled lines actually extend so as to join the stems of the "minims" together?

I'm not absolutely sure of this, but I feel that Musescore gets this wrong.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tremolo#Bowed_string_instruments


It's not wrong, but the more "modern" way of notating it.

Select the tremolo and in the inspector you can change the style to match the Traditional one.

In reply to by jeetee

Is this now general for orchestral and other musicians?

Thanks for the suggestion. It still needs tweaking - for example if the stems are one up and one down, and it might be necessary to adjust the x and y offsets, though once this has been done it seems to stick if the pair of "notes" are then copied and moved about. Sometimes it "just works" - with no tweaking, but it's not consistent.

In reply to by jeetee

I find it looks ugly. Now that I've noticed this, I think I've seen notation like some variants of the "traditional" flavour used for artistic effect. For example, two minims - one flag up, the other down, then the tremolo lines will go diagonally. I might have seen something like that on a jazz songbook.

Also, between two "whole notes" where there are no stems, the tremolo isn't always angled "correctly" - which surely it should be. Sometimes there is an angle, sometimes not. This seems an area which could do with some attention.

I'm also not quite sure if there are different conventions for different instruments - strings vs piano or other percussion instruments, for example.

In reply to by dave2020X

> "Also, between two "whole notes" where there are no stems, the tremolo isn't always angled "correctly" - which surely it should be. Sometimes there is an angle, sometimes not. This seems an area which could do with some attention"

Those stems aren't there visually, but they "exist" as the virtual anchor points for those tremolos. I think you can try to flip a stem on a whole note as well (select the note, press X) and this might influence the tremolo placement as a consequence.

In reply to by jeetee

Indeed there does seem to be some degree of adjustment which can be done - though it probably requires some trial and error. You can try to flip the virtual stem on a whole note, though in fact it probably won't do much which is of use. What is possible is to select (say) the rightmost note, and drag it sideways, and also up and down, and the tremolo marks will follow - to a certain extent - sometimes, but not always, at an appropriate angle.

This can also be used to widen the gap to allow for space to insert an accidental - otherwise it would be necessary to adjust offsets using the Inspector. Chances are that the default positions are too close together, so this would be helpful for giving a better layout.

In reply to by dave2020X

While we all have the right to find things attractive or not, when writing music for others to read, it is also important to put those feelings aside sometimes and write what people are using to reading, to make their jobs easier.

In my experience, the old-style notation is probably more common for piano than other instruments, the modern notation virtually ubiquitous for all other instruments. But I don't claim to be an expert.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm happy to use and write whatever is most convenient for others, and what is commonly used. I have been looking at older manuscripts and printed copies which prompted my comments.

I'm still not sure that what is considered the "modern" way in Musescore is quite so ubiquitous as you and others have suggested, but I'd have to look at copies of music over the last hundred or so years to spot when any systematic change to the "newer" notation took place. Even if that is the most common way now, some layouts of the notation look better than just simply going for the defaults - such as making sure that the tremolo lines are angled appropriately, that they are long enough, that there is sufficient space at each end for acidentals etc.

I can ask amongst professional musicians I know what they are used to, and perhaps also look at the latest versions of some printed scores by well established publishers.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I found this extract for a book which is currently in print - http://www.behindbarsnotation.co.uk/brochure/blad.pdf

The book is very expensive - Behind Bars by Elaine Gould, though the Kindle edition is just under £30.
Pages relevant to tremolos are 225 and 404 and appear to fit the descriptions of tremolo used in Musescore - though hopefully without the issues if the lines are not angled appropriately or of a suitable length.

There is another book - by Jonathan Feist - https://www.amazon.co.uk/
Berklee Contemporary Music Notation - Amazon ASIN : 0876391781

Yet another is Music Notation by Mark McGrain - Amazon ASIN : 0793508479

An earlier book which is available from some booksellers is Modern Music Notation by Laszlo Boehm - but that dates from the 1960s.

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