"Broken rhythm" in note entry

• Apr 11, 2010 - 21:06
Graphical (UI)
S5 - Suggestion

In ABC music representation, there is a concept called "broken rhythm" which would be useful to consider as a feature to add to note entry mode. Broken rhythms are described on pages 12 to 13 (PDF pages 22-23) in the following documentation for ABCplus:

How it works: Suppose that the prevailing rhythm were quarter notes; then the pattern "c>d" would represent a dotted quarter note on pitch C, and an eighth note on pitch D. The ">" is an operator which takes 1/2 of the following note's duration, and applies it as an augmentation dot to the previous note. Compare this method to standard note entry method in musescore:

  • broken rhythm method: "5c>d" (the prevailing rhythm remains quarter notes)
  • standard musescore note entry method from computer keyboard: "5.c4d5"

Conceptually, ">" works in ABC like a dot in note entry mode, but the rhythm of the following note is adjusted to compensate for the dot being added (without the prevailing rhythmic value being altered).

In addition ABC allows for up to three ">" in a row: "5c>d" would be a dotted quarter followed by an eighth note, "5c>>d" would be a doubly dotted quarter followed by a 16th note, and "5c>>>d" would be a triple-dotted quarter note followed by an 32nd note. Also "<" is used in the reverse sense: "5c<d" is an eighth note followed by a dotted quarter note, "5c<<d" is a sixteenth note followed by a doubly-dotted quarter note, and "5c<<<d" is a 32nd note followed by a triple-dotted quarter note.

Adding a broken rhythm feature would speed up the entry of music in non-compound meters where there are a lot of dotted rhythms. If using exactly the same characters as in ABC, the staccato would have to be moved from ">".

A useful variation on the system could be that "<" and ">" would cancel each other out. For example, if someone accidentally types two ">" as in "5c>>d" but meant to type only one, they could reverse one of the dots by typing: "5c>><d".