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mrskristin
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   Posted 8/18/2009 1:11 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hello, I'm new to the forums but not at all new to Finale, have been a using it as my primary composing program since 2004.

My question isn't regarding Finale as much as I need some actual composing advice. I am a woodwinds instructor and performer by trade, but I know my way around most brass instruments and the basics of the percussion family (as in, I know how to roll on a snare, that sort of thing).
However, I was never really introduced into the world of auxilary percussion and I was wondering if I could get a couple of tips.

Specifically, I am writing parts for an anvil, a vibratone, claves, rain stick and windchimes.

My questions are;

Are there specific lines these instruments should be written on?

For the vibratone, rainstick, and windchimes, are there any rules as to how to write them? (Ex; does a windchimes part require a glissando or the like? How do you let a percussionist know when to raise and lower their thumb on the vibratone? Can I just write a whole note for a rainstick or do I need a special sign?)

Thank you in advance for your help!
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PeterQD
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   Posted 8/18/2009 5:39 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I had to ask a percussionist about wind chime notation recently. He said to use a gliss line sloping upwards or downwards to tell the player which direction to strike them. Can't help you with the other instruments, sorry. There doesn't seem to be an accepted standard notation for percussion. I'm going to see if I can borrow a book from the library:
tinyurl.com/owoynr

This pdf has some useful info:
howto.szsolomon.com/howto-sample.pdf


WinFin since 1992 (v2)
2009b, 2007c, 2005b

Post Edited (PeterQD) : 8/18/2009 6:08:41 PM (GMT-5)

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Scott Hirsch (Coach)
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   Posted 8/18/2009 11:29 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
mrskristin said...
Hello, I'm new to the forums but not at all new to Finale, have been a using it as my primary composing program since 2004.

My question isn't regarding Finale as much as I need some actual composing advice. I am a woodwinds instructor and performer by trade, but I know my way around most brass instruments and the basics of the percussion family (as in, I know how to roll on a snare, that sort of thing).
However, I was never really introduced into the world of auxilary percussion and I was wondering if I could get a couple of tips.

Specifically, I am writing parts for an anvil, a vibratone, claves, rain stick and windchimes.

My questions are;

Are there specific lines these instruments should be written on?

For the vibratone, rainstick, and windchimes, are there any rules as to how to write them? (Ex; does a windchimes part require a glissando or the like? How do you let a percussionist know when to raise and lower their thumb on the vibratone? Can I just write a whole note for a rainstick or do I need a special sign?)

Thank you in advance for your help!


Hi Kristin!

The cool thing (and somewhat confusing at times) is that there are no set rules for where you should write those instruments for percussion. I am a percussion composer/educator and I like to put instruments like Wind Chimes with a triangle notehead above the staff on a "G" or the "A" above the staff (somewhat like where you would see a triangle notated). Using different style noteheads will help in making your intentions clear. There is also a Ghent Percussion Font that is available for purchase that has symbols you can put in your music to make the performer aware of what you would like them to do. You can use these as Text Blocks or Expressions.

A lot of percussionists have their own way of writing and will often put a notation key at the beginning of the score. Here are a couple links that might help in designing this notation key:

1. Using the Graphics Tool
- You can use these steps to make a graphic of your notation key and place it on your title page for example.
2. Ghent Percussion Font
- I have this font and use it frequently. This is a more standard approach.

Where you place the notes is up to you, but if you would like more recommendations or examples, I would be happy to send you some examples and suggestions based on where I place those instruments when writing for them.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions.


Scott Hirsch
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Eric Knechtges
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   Posted 8/19/2009 12:52 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
mrskristin said...


Specifically, I am writing parts for an anvil, a vibratone, claves, rain stick and windchimes.

My questions are;

Are there specific lines these instruments should be written on?

For the vibratone, rainstick, and windchimes, are there any rules as to how to write them? (Ex; does a windchimes part require a glissando or the like? How do you let a percussionist know when to raise and lower their thumb on the vibratone? Can I just write a whole note for a rainstick or do I need a special sign?)

Thank you in advance for your help!


Generally, here are some guidelines for these sorts of things:

1. The only instruments that typically have semi-standard places on the staff associated with them are the instruments associated with a drumset (i.e., snare drum, bass drum, toms (if small number) and cymbals (if small number)). Other than that, the general idea is to notate the instrument in an area of the staff that corresponds to its frequency range (i.e., triangle near the top, tam-tam near the bottom). Some texts suggest putting wooden and skin instruments on spaces, and metallic instruments on lines.

2. As far as using non-standard noteheads -- while this is frequently done, there is no requirement to do so. I tend to use regular noteheads for everything... BUT, whenever there is an instrument change, you MUST label it.

3. The Ghent Percussion symbols are wonderful looking, but similarly to Esperanto, it's a fantastic idea that never really caught on. You're better off using text.

4. Also -- keep the following issues in mind:
a. For any instrument where there is a considerable decay time involved, you need to either use the indication "l.v." (laissez vibrer) or use a "half-tie" (i.e., a tie to nowhere.) This would include something like a triangle.
b. Wind chimes are written in a number of ways, but many conventions do involve a glissando from either the top line to the bottom line, or vice versa. Maybe another percussionist can answer what they like to see -- my sense is that most percussionists are trained to interpret a whole gamut of notations. As long as your notation makes intuitive sense with how it will actually be executed, in this case I think it's OK.
c. You mean "flexatone", not vibratone. I think you confused part of it with a "vibraslap", which is a different instrument entirely. Flexatone is an instrument best notated in terms of approximate pitch, which I might indicate by a primary notehead with a roll sign on it (to indicate that they should continue shaking the thing), and then a wavy line to indicate approximate pitch. This wavy line can attach to other noteheads if you need to notate a spot where your "gliss" changes directions or flattens out.
d. Rainstick can probably just be notated with a duration, unless you want them to hold the stick horizontally like a shaker instead of vertically.

Once again -- any line/space is fine, but be consistent with the line/space you pick for each instrument, and LABEL AT EVERY INSTRUMENT CHANGE.
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Scott Hirsch (Coach)
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   Posted 8/19/2009 4:17 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
mrskristin said...
Hello, I'm new to the forums but not at all new to Finale, have been a using it as my primary composing program since 2004.

My question isn't regarding Finale as much as I need some actual composing advice. I am a woodwinds instructor and performer by trade, but I know my way around most brass instruments and the basics of the percussion family (as in, I know how to roll on a snare, that sort of thing).
However, I was never really introduced into the world of auxilary percussion and I was wondering if I could get a couple of tips.

Specifically, I am writing parts for an anvil, a vibratone, claves, rain stick and windchimes.

My questions are;

Are there specific lines these instruments should be written on?

For the vibratone, rainstick, and windchimes, are there any rules as to how to write them? (Ex; does a windchimes part require a glissando or the like? How do you let a percussionist know when to raise and lower their thumb on the vibratone? Can I just write a whole note for a rainstick or do I need a special sign?)

Thank you in advance for your help!


Eric,

Actually, there is an instrument called a Vibra-tone and it is similar to a small hand "chime" - if you will. Not to be confused with a handchime. I have attached a couple photos. It is definitely not widely used, but I have written for them.

Is this what you meant, Kristin?

No matter what, Kristin - I think Eric says it best with this:
Eric said...
Once again -- any line/space is fine, but be consistent with the line/space you pick for each instrument, and LABEL AT EVERY INSTRUMENT CHANGE.

This is great advise for percussion writing!

You can do pretty much whatever you would like as long as it is clear and consistent - be it different noteheads, Ghent Font, etc. The Graphics Tool link I posted earlier will give some direction at creating/importing a graphic of a notation key if you were to create one on another program/scratch sheet/score, etc. This would be helpful to put at the beginning of your score, or on a title page for notation. I attached an example here as well.

Hope that helps! Thanks for adding some good advice, Eric!

Let us know if you have any questions.


Scott Hirsch
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Finale 2005-2010
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Post Edited (Scott H. MakeMusic) : 8/19/2009 4:20:08 AM (GMT-5)


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mrskristin
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   Posted 8/19/2009 9:57 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Wow, thank you all for the great replies, they are truly, truly appreciated (perhaps if I can get this thing published I will have to add the Finale Forums in a list of thank you's [as if it will ever get that far]). I have actually heard from a couple of percussionists that as long as you label what you want, it's really up to the composer, but frankly, I didn't believe them! As a classical woodwinds performer, it's hard for me to grasp that much freedom!
Scott, you are correct, Vibratone was the instrument I was referring to. I am doing a water sequence, and I really think it will add a special dynamic to it. And Eric, I know it is obscure, so I understand the confusion!
Scott, Thank you, thank you, thank you, you have been a great help. Your attachments (especially the example of your title page) have been a great help. Thank you also to Eric and Peter. Is it sad that this is my 3rd composition (of any substance, anyway), and I still have all of these questions? As I'm writing this piece for a specific band, I wanted to make sure I was doing the percussion correctly for them, as they are such an important part of the group.
Now I have one question that still stands and am not sure if there really is an answer-- again with the vibratone, how would one write a part for that, since it changes pitch?
Thanks again!
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Scott Hirsch (Coach)
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   Posted 8/19/2009 10:07 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Great to hear, Kristin! I am glad we were able to offer you some great advice and suggestions. Let us know if we can answer any other questions.


Scott Hirsch
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Taz
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   Posted 8/19/2009 11:54 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hi Kristen,
A very interesting and detailed thread, I learned a lot from reading it.
As far as the Vibratone, have you considered using the Vibraphone as it would give you the option of pitch changes and it uses a single staff.
Cheers
Taz.


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PeterQD
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   Posted 8/19/2009 12:04 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
When I Googled "Vibratone" all I could find were those slimming machines with a vibrating belt! :-) Perhaps someone's trying to tell me something!


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Scott Hirsch (Coach)
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   Posted 8/19/2009 1:34 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
HAHA....Yeah I laughed too Peter! :)


Scott Hirsch
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mrskristin
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   Posted 8/19/2009 4:06 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Peter, if I hadn't heard of them before I wouldn't have known they existed. When I googled "How to write a vibratone part", I got those slimming belts as well. Even when I looked at youtube, to make sure I was naming the instrument correctly, I got a lot of videos about those slimming belts. :) LOL

Taz, I will look into that, thank you so much for the idea! I am still thinking of using the Vibra Tone, as I played around with one a lot as a high school student, but I am definitely considering also adding the vibraphone, it hadn't crossed my mind. Thanks!

If only I had come here two months ago when I started, then I wouldn't be running on a deadline with everything done but 3 empty, very sad looking percussion parts.
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Eric Knechtges
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   Posted 8/19/2009 6:42 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Ah, OK, I found a sound file of the instrument -- sorry for not realizing what you were talking about. I'd write the vibratone part with a treble clef, if possible, so you can indicate the pitch of the vibratone you want. As for opening and closing the sound-hole, I would use "+" and "o" symbols over the note as the changes occur if it's a definite rhythm, but otherwise, I'd just use a note with a half-tie to indicate the attack, and say "wah-wah effect" or something like that over the first instance of it, and "sim." thereafter.

So, if in 4/4 time, you want four beats of sound, and you want the player to put their hand over the end on every other beat, I'd notate four quarter notes tied together, and put "o" over the first quarter, "+" over the next, "o" over the next, etc. etc. -- once again, this is only if a definite wah-wah rhythm is desired.
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mrskristin
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   Posted 8/20/2009 10:33 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks Eric, great tip! That makes a lot of sense! I'm hoping I can find those symbols in finale, lol (I may have had it for a few years, but I still get lost sometimes!). Thanks again!
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Eric Knechtges
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   Posted 8/20/2009 10:36 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
They're articulation markings. If you've got the full version of Finale, they should already be programmed as shortcuts -- with the articulation tool selected, hold down "o" and click on the notehead to get the "o" symbol, and "i" to get the "+" symbol.

Good luck!
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Scott Hirsch (Coach)
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   Posted 8/20/2009 11:19 PM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Eric Knechtges said...
They're articulation markings. If you've got the full version of Finale, they should already be programmed as shortcuts -- with the articulation tool selected, hold down "o" and click on the notehead to get the "o" symbol, and "i" to get the "+" symbol.

Good luck!


This is exactly what I would use as well for notating when to cover with your thumb.

Just as an FYI, Virtual Drumline 2.5 (which can be fully integrated with/into Finale) has a Vibratone sound. I have included a screenshot. This has open, and closed sounds. If this is something that is important to you, you might want to check out Tapspace for further information on how to purchase this.


Scott Hirsch
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iMac 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4GB RAM OS X 10.5.4
MacBook 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4GB RAM OS X 10.5.4
Finale 2005-2010
Kontakt 2,3
Tapspace Virtual Drumline 2.5.1
Zero-G Nostalgia
Garritan Personal Orchestra
Sibelius 2-5.2


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mrskristin
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   Posted 8/21/2009 11:44 AM (GMT -6)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks again, I am so closed to finishing now I can barely stand it! I did find the articulation markings, thank you again for all of the help! It's nice to have a community of people who actually know what they are talking about to ask questions. If any of you ever need help with woodwinds stuff, let me know ;).
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