Empty rhythm flags above the line for Tab

• Jul 2, 2015 - 02:48
S5 - Suggestion
needs info

For me, the fastest way to encode French or Italian lute tab is to input all the rhythm flags first, then add the notes under them. In all but a few cases, the rhythm flags stay above the line, usually in the form of:
/| | |\ |\\ |\\\ , etc. (Sorry if this did not come out clearly, but I hope you get the idea.

The first would correspond to a semibreve, the second to a minim, the third to a crotchet,etc.

Or it could be breve, semibreve, minim, etc.

I like to be able to have the option of having one rhythm flag per note also. The rhythm flags can then optionally be beamed to clarify the rhythmic structure. See attached example.


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Let me separate the three parts.

A) Empty rhythm flags: it might probably be useful, but unfortunately it goes against the current MuseScore architecture: rhythm flags belong to chords and a chord is needed to 'support' each of them. It would be practically the same thing as asking to have 'floating' rhythmic flags in a standard staff before entering any note; the fact that in (some styles of) tablature, flags are separate from notes is purely visual, architecturally they belong to chords.

So, I'm afraid it is unlikely this feature will be supported any soon.

Aa) If the problem is to know, while entering notes, how much of the measure or how much rests (and of which kind) remain to be filled, the idea floated around some time ago to have 'standard' rests always shown in tabs, as regular symbol for tabs which show rests (as it happens already) or as grayed out symbols (=> invisible) for tabs which do not. Would it help?

B) Flags for all chords: This is already possible, selecting "Note values | Shown as | Note symbols" and "Note values | Repeat | Always".

C1) Flag beaming: the specific example you quote is structurally equivalent to the tab style using "Note values | Shown as | Stems & beams" and "Stem style | Beside staff". This is already implemented and allows to apply all beaming effects currently possible on standard staves. The typographic style would be different, though.

C2) More concerning would be the request to have rhythm shown sometime with symbols and sometime with beamed stems, as the beaming levels are not the same of the 'normal' beaming and, possibly, not always the same in historic sources.

For instance, the attached example (from S. Verovio ed., Canzonette a 4; Rome 1591), comparing the vocal and keyboard settings to the lute setting, shows the following correspondence: | semibevis; |\ minima; |\\ seminima; |\\\ fusa and so on, which is one beam level more than your list.

My intention is to support something of this kind in the future, but it is not going to be neither simple or quick.



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Hmmm. Is there not the concept of an "empty chord"? That would be the equivalent of a rest, wouldn't it? Perhaps I did not understand you well, here. Incidentally, in *most* types of historical tab, the rhythm flags are separated from the notes, including for rests. The main exceptions I can think of are very early stuff (like Spinacino) and guitar notation (like Robert de Visee). I would say if you want the product of "MuseTab" (my shortcut for tab implementations of museScore) to look at all like "normal" types of lute tab, you would have to include this feature. Also, do you have the capability of a tie across a bar line in museTab? In historical tab, this is done with a rest (empty rhythm flag) at the beginning of a bar tied to the rhythm flag of a chord at the end of the previous bar. In this case, the rest is not really a rest but a place holder for the previous chord. It would be a rest if it were not tied.

You know, in vocal music (mensural notation, now), it is useful to beam some quavers, semiquavers, etc., and not others, depending on the text underlay and rhythmical structure. If this is the case, should it not be possible to beam or not beam rhythm flags in tab on an individual basis? Incidentally, I would not want the flag style to be different in different places in the same file. That would just look weird.

To cover the ground of the mensural equivalents of rhythm flags, you could have the option of assigning a value to a type of flag (like |\ could be assigned to be a minim or a crotchet). I don't think the correspondence is necessarily fixed in historical sources. Different settings of the same piece may have differing values for the rhythm flags, and differing correspondences with an accompanying mensural notation.

Am I correct in assuming that the sum of the values of notes or rests in a bar in museTab must equal that given in the time signature? In that case, it might be useful to have grayed-out rests showing how much time is left in a bar. For my "modern" editions, I try to make sure that the note values match the time signature(s), but historically this is often not the case. Dowland and Bacheler, for instance, are all over the map in their barring. In my editions, I try to regularize the barring, but it is not always possible to do so. Sometimes, too, putting in a lot of time signatures appears sort of fussy. Then, of course, there are the pieces that are completely unbarred and sometimes unstructured, as in unmeasured preludes from late 16th and early 17th centuries. Not sure how museTab would handle these cases. In my editions I put in the bar lines for ease of reading and general sanity, perhaps with dotted lines or tics to indicate that the bar lines are editorial.

So I guess what I am asking is: what's possible in museTab and what isn't? The above would be necessary for me to find museTab useful.


Technically, a chord could be empty - nothing in it's list of notes. But I suspect MuseScore would crash a hundred different ways if it ever encountered one, as we probably assume throughout that a chord has at least one note and don't check for empty note lists.

I could be wrong, but I assume when you say rhythm flags are separated form notes, you mean visually only. And I believe that is what Miwarre is saying - we support rhythm flags that are serparated *visually*, but *architecturally* there still need to be chords, and chords need notes. So as far as I can tell, MuseScore *does* allow what you need, it just doens't directly support the specific method of entering this you describe (first enter rhythms, then notes).

Actually, for pitched staves, it kind of *does* support this. You could enter a rhythm using a single note over and over again always "A", for instance - and then go over it again in "repitch mode" mode to change the pitches. As far as I can tell, though, this isn't implemented for tab.

Regarding rests - yes, measures must be full. I guess you could enable rests while working and then disable them again (or select them all and mark them invisible) when done.

But there is no need to use time signatures. Non metric music is well-supported in MuseScore, both tab and standard notation. Measures can have any number of beats regardless of the time signature - see Measure Properties in the right click menu, also the Join Measures and Split Measure commands in Edit / Measure. And barlines can be dotted or notated with ticks; see the Barlines palette.

The other questions are beyond what I know so I will defer ...

BTW, realistically, these issues are better suited for discussion in the forum. It is best to reserve the issue tracker for single well-defined issues, whether bugs or features requests, and even so it is usually best to hash the ideas out on the forum first.

Oh, one other thing: if you don't actually need the fancy note value symbols for rhythm, then you could use the "stems and beams" option, and then you could use the normal Beam Properties palette to break aor join beams however you like - so indeed, you can have mixed beams & flags in the same score.

@sgerbode: "Is there not the concept of an "empty chord"?" Practically, no, there cannot be an chord without at least one note.
"That would be the equivalent of a rest, wouldn't it?" It wouldn't: a rest is a rest and a chord is a chord; they share some properties (for instance duration), but each adds its own property to the common ground, making them two different beasts.

"if you want [...], you would have to include this feature." Which one of the three features (perhaps four features) I noticed in your request?

"should it not be possible to beam or not beam rhythm flags in tab on an individual basis?" I think I explained why this is currently not possible to combine beaming with historic duration symbols and why it would be far from simple to implement in the future. It is right now possible to have all flags and beams thought, as described above.

As I described above, some of your requests are already implemented in the current version; maybe by playing with the different parameters of the tab config dialogue box, you may get a wider picture of the current possibilities on which to ground further additions.

@Marc Sabatella: "for pitched staves, it kind of *does* support this. You could enter a rhythm using a single note over and over again always "A"...": true, but even in this case, there is still at least one note for each chord.