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Eric Knechtges
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   Posted 2/2/2009 11:26 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
How does one set up a time signature like 5/6, such as what Thomas Ades uses in the Extasio movement of his Asyla? (i.e. the measure is comprised of five quarter-note triplets -- useful for when it's a brief tempo modulation that goes right back to the original) Anyone have any bright ideas?

N.B.: I'm not asking for your personal moral objections to the use of these time signatures -- I'm asking for advice in how to execute them in Finale.
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Saffron
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   Posted 2/2/2009 11:38 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
No idea! In Finale, the divisor always seems to be a power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16 ...).

Brian
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lunker
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   Posted 2/2/2009 12:05 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
See this thread: forum.makemusic.com/default.aspx?f=5&m=227817

Unfortunately, it covers not only how to implement them, but also a pretty hefty discussion about the validity of such time signatures. But the information you are looking for is there.


Best Regards,
Ernie

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bka
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   Posted 2/2/2009 2:55 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
how about personal moral approval? is that ok?

it is time consuming to make them, because you have to hide the real time signature, make a fake one with the expression tool and then get the music to space nicely around it... but on the other hand, if the composer is doing this frequently, it gets rid of all the metric modulations that would have to appear above the staff so the end result is a cleaner page with easier formatting.

also, as a player, I like them!! it's much easier to look at one symbol with a lot of information than to read the time signature and then the whatever=whatever and then do the math...

i've typed pieces that could have used this technique but instead used a metric modulation on EVERY measure. it is understandable to more people that way, but it's so hard to look at, and the music becomes increasingly "vertical" when combined with frequent extended technique markings and special effects... so i like how this combines two notational elements... i would like to see this style more prevalent and better understood.

as for finale not supporting it in the time signature options... I imagine it's tricky because it's context based, how would it affect playback?... and so far i only knew of 2 people using it (well 3, now that eric mentioned Ades)...

what would be cool though... is if they could add an option like "don't display bottom number" or something... that way we could put whatever we wanted there with the expression tool, but it would still calculate same way, and we would get the advantages of the time signature like proper music spacing and breaking ties that cross over it.

(um, if something has changed in 2009 and this is easier now, sorry)
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bka
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:12 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
!!! i found a different trick! this might cause problems and it's ugly... but maybe you want to experiment :)

document options-time signature-vertical adjustment-bottom symbol (score and parts) set to -11 (or whatever page size you're using)

then you only have to make the bottom symbol and all the spacing and other stuff should still work!

of course you will have to make all the bottom numbers for the regular time signatures too, but it still might save time if you have a lot of the triplet-y ones.
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Saffron
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:17 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Not wishing to regurgitate the arguments in the previous (referenced) thread, but until such time as conventional notation acquires special noteheads, annotations and beaming rules for non-power-of-two durations, I can see absolutely no purpose for non-power-of-two divisors.
 
And for those who take the opposite view, why not go the whole hog, and lose this whole integer straightjacket and allow floating point time sigs? Like 3.1416/1.4142? I'm sure some composer somewhere will try to justify this, perhaps claiming his or her music is more in touch with the Inner Self by using "natural" numbers and ratios! devil
 
Brian

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Ron.
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:28 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
This may have been hashed over in the past, but I am still curious to see what a 1/6 note looks like.


Ron, composer
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Richard N.
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:31 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Here's a thread on custom time signatures:

http://forum.makemusic.com/default.aspx?f=5&m=178980&g=178999#m178999

With regard to the concept of using 4/3 type time signature, my understanding is that it is actually designed to achieve a tempo change without having to write an expression at the point of each time change.

I can't say that I have ever heard of it before today, but having given it soem consideration, I can see how (if I wanted to write some music with such tempo changes) this concept could work to provide an uncluttered (less cluttered) score.

The noteheads (I imagine) would be normal - the use of the tuplet in the key signature is not per se to set a tuplet as the base pulse, but to indicate that the (say) quarter notes in a 4/3 measure that follows a 4/4/ measure should have the duration/tempi of quarter triplets in the 4/4 measure. [this is my unsatisfactory explanation of something I am not entirely sure about so feel free to set me right :-) ] 

It is not a million miles away from time sigs such as (3+2+3+2+2)/8 to signify a complex rhythmic distribution of 12 eighth notes or 6/4 + 5/4 to indicate alternating measures of 6/4 and 5/4 wuthout needing to show a time sig change on every measure. Some musicians would consider these confusing and unnecessary, but then again musicians who are used to them understand and appreciate their purpose and usefulness. 



 
Richard N.
 
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Post Edited (Richard N.) : 2/2/2009 1:37:27 PM (GMT-6)

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bka
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:37 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
"non-power-of-two durations"...but... we already do this.. all the time... with triplet beams... if you are in 2/4 and you want three notes in the space of 2, what you are really doing is making "one sixth notes" but you still represent them with the "quarter note" symbol (no special notehead required)... the duration is changed by the triplet beam that goes over them... this is just a way of incorporating that information in to the time signature instead of using things that need space above the music.

where this really becomes useful is when someone only wants two of those three notes... the conventional way is to use a metric modulation that says the triplet quarter = the new quarter. but as i said, if you do it a lot, it gets cluttered. this notation is just a way of simplifying the notation for something we already do.

brian: lol @ 3.1416/1.4142! but if some composer hired me to type it... well, i'd try to talk them out of it but i'd still find a way to do it... once, a composer made me type (and perform) a piece in 3+3+4+3+2+3+4+2/8 (in one part, against 4+4+3+2+3/8 in the other). and he had a very important analytical reason for doing it that way... so i complied... but yeah... i know what you mean.

Post Edited (bka) : 2/2/2009 1:40:20 PM (GMT-6)

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Saffron
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:40 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Richard, I sort of understand that too - but when it comes to actually notating something, "X/Y" says "X note values of this length Y in a measure" - and for this reason, at least in my simple musical mind, suggests that it is pretty [email protected] useful if "Y" has a corresponding method of notation. How would you actually notate a measure of 7/5? Let alone conduct or play it?
 
Brian
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bka
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:45 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
(oops, apologies to N. Grossingink who had previouly mentioned my -11 idea in the thread cited by richard... i had only seen lunkers cited thread at the time.)
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Saffron
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   Posted 2/2/2009 3:52 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

BKA - a bit OT, I know, but once I knew a composer who asked me to perform an "ffff" wallop on a Tam-Tam (my own personal one) with a Triangle beater. I refused point blank, because knowing a little about the relative Rockwell hardness of Chinese bronze versus tempered steel, I was not willing to cause permanent damage to one of my own instruments just to satisfy his ego. I said I'd risk a wooden snare drum stick, but he said nothing but the Triangle beater would do. I then suggested he hire me someone else's Tam-Tam, at his own risk, and then I'd play as he asked, be simply chuckled, and said, "C'mon, just do it, I'm The Composer".

At the gig (as in the rehearsal), I simply used my snare stick as I'd suggested. Luckily, he wasn't watching, just listening. Afterwards, he came to me, examined my Tam-Tam and said, "There - I told you it wouldn't do any damage".

The Pilchard.

At least, I suppose, a dodgy time sig can't cause thousands of pounds' worth of damage! lol
 
Brian

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Richard N.
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   Posted 2/2/2009 4:13 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Saffron said...
Richard, I sort of understand that too - but when it comes to actually notating something, "X/Y" says "X note values of this length Y in a measure" - and for this reason, at least in my simple musical mind, suggests that it is pretty [email protected] useful if "Y" has a corresponding method of notation. How would you actually notate a measure of 7/5? Let alone conduct or play it?
 
Brian
My understanding is that you would notate/conduct a 7/5 measure exactly as you would notate/conduct a 7/4 measure.
 
The extra information that is (attempted to be) provided by the 7/5 signature is that if the preceeding measure is 4/4 with a tempo of quarter=100, the tempo of the 7/5 (really 7/4) measure is quarter=120. On the premise that this methodology is used in pieces that frequently alternate between (e.g.) 4/4 and 7/5 or any other *irrational* time signature, this avoics the need to add a tempo expression at each change.
 
Personally, I can't see me ever writing or performing such music - and I don't envy the stick who gets lumbered with such a piece to perform.
 
I have enough difficulty trying to justify to some of my colleagues why anyone should ever write an E# on a part instead of an F, let alone irrational time signatures :)    I also have to admit that I never really grasped imaginary numbers in advanced mathmatics either.  


 
Richard N.
 
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Ron.
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   Posted 2/2/2009 7:38 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Will someone please answer the following. Attached are pictures of notes. Please fill in what "third" notes, "fifth" notes, etc look like.

We normally designate the length of notes by techniques such as open/closed, stems, flags. So, I wish the proponents of 2/3 time signatures and the like would draw me a picture of a "third note." And don't tell me it looks like a quarter note. That's like saying an apple looks like an orange, or that a cat looks like a dog.

 


Ron, composer
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Post Edited (Ron.) : 2/2/2009 5:44:22 PM (GMT-6)


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lunker
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   Posted 2/3/2009 12:24 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hi Ron,

Attached is my interpretation of what 1/6 notes look like.

In the specific example of a time signature like 5/6, the sextuplet bracket is implied, so it is left off the notes. So (as much as I know you hate to hear this!) 1/6 notes look just like quarter notes.

If you removed the sextuplet bracket, you could change the time signature to 6/6 and it would represent the same rhythm and tempo as the 4/4 sextuplets.

A 5/6 measure would end after the 5th note in the image I attached. I understand that many people do not like or understand it, but for some people, these time signatures are a very convenient way of specifying an "incomplete" measure in a normal time signature such as 4/4.

I predict that in another 100 years, these time signatures will be used as commonly as the tuplet notation that we have today. It will just take some time for more people to understand them.


Best Regards,
Ernie

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Post Edited (lunker) : 2/2/2009 10:33:56 PM (GMT-6)


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lunker
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   Posted 2/3/2009 1:30 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
D'oh! I really didn't mean to end up defending unusual time signatures. But now I am thinking about it, and I can't sleep.

Here's another thought I had that might approach the issue from a different angle:

If you have a 4/4 measure of quarter notes, and you want to make the duration of the measure 1 quarter note shorter, what do you do? You subtract 1 quarter note from the numerator, which changes the time signature to 3/4, right?

If you have a 4/4 measure of eighth notes, and you want to make the duration of the measure 1 eighth note shorter, what do you do? You subtract half a quarter note from the numerator, which changes the time signature to 3.5/4. But we only want integers in our time signatures, so you multiply both the numerator and the denominator by 2, and you end up with 7/8 for the time signature.

So if you have a 4/4 measure of sextuplet quarter notes, and you want to make the duration of the measure 1 sextuplet-quarter-note shorter, what do you do? Each sextuplet quarter note has 2/3 the duration of a normal quarter note, so you subtract 2/3 of a quarter note from the numerator, which changes the time signature to 3.33/4 (rounding 3 1/3 to two decimal points). But we want integers in the time signature. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can multiply 3.33/4 by and end up with integers and a denominator that is a power of 2. The best we can do is multiply both the numerator and the denominator by 1.5, and end up with a time signature of 5/6.

I am making an assumption here that we prefer to have integers in our time signatures. For those that do not like 5/6, do you prefer 3.33/4? That also makes perfect sense to me -- a quarter note equals one beat, and there are 3 1/3 quarter notes per measure.

Although the problem with 3.33/4 is that if you want to have 5 quarter-note sextuplets for the entire measure, you are going to need to put the "6" sextuplet bracket over the notes (if you put "5", people will think they are quintuplets!), but you only have 5 notes! A sextuplet with only 5 notes -- that may freak some people out just as much as having 5/6 for the time signature.

Oh well, I have said my piece, and I feel I can sleep now without my poor brain churning over this issue.


Best Regards,
Ernie

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Saffron
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   Posted 2/3/2009 5:40 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Lunker, I believe a 6-tuplet of quarter notes in 4/4 time is fundamentally different from a non-standard time sig such as - er - 6/6. For a start, a conductor would (normally) conduct the former with four even beats, expecting his musicians to play the even tuplet "across" this beat: how would you expect him to conduct 6/6?

With current conventions, X/2 means X lots of units of half notes, and X/4 means X lots of units of quarter notes, X/8 ditto for eigth notes, etc. To argue that X/3 or X/5 should also be notated using quarter notes is just plain illogical - why not use halves for X/3? Or eighths for X/5? And if you do use quarters for X/5, what about X/7? Do you choose the nearest classical note type? Or the one that is next greater? Or less?

Furthermore, tuplets usually don't fill measures wall-to-wall - they are far more commonly used for just part of a bar. Would a 2/2 measure starting with a triplet of crochets, followed by a pair of normal ones, now need to be written in compound time, as "1.5/3+1/2" or something?

Until Ron's missing symbols are defined - and accepted by trained musicians - divisors which do not correspond to known note symbols are, frankly, meaningless.

Brian
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Richard N.
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   Posted 2/3/2009 8:07 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

And finally, I've found an article that appears to know what it is talking about - and goes into a little detail of how to deal with irrational time signatures in Finale:

http://secretsociety.typepad.com/darcy_james_argues_secret/2008/03/till-this-bitte.html


 
Richard N.
 
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Ron.
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   Posted 2/3/2009 8:31 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Richard N. said...

And finally, I've found an article that appears to know what it is talking about - and goes into a little detail of how to deal with irrational time signatures in Finale:

http://secretsociety.typepad.com/darcy_james_argues_secret/2008/03/till-this-bitte.html


Maybe my problem is that I am old and have been reading music for nearly 60 years. But, in the example, the 2nd measure makes absolutely no sense to me. It's time signature is 2/3; there are four quarter notes in the measure, and they are presented as a tuplet notated as 3:2. Sorry, but I don't even know where to begin to determine the length of each written quarter note. The best I can do is: the composer wants 2 beats of something in the measure. There's four quarter notes there, so perhaps what he really means is: 2/2 and the 3 is some sort of typo or secret code. But then, he presents those four quarters as a 3:2 tuplet. I am lost. If the tuplet designation means three notes in the space of two--its normal meaning--then what three notes are we talking about? How can four quarter notes be described as a "group of 3"?


Ron, composer
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johnmouse
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   Posted 2/3/2009 8:59 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Oh goody! I've always wanted a time signature of cos² x + sin x · cos x = 1

Ron, if you multiply 2/3 times 4, you get 8/12. You then divide only the denominator by 2 and get a fraction of 8/6. Only then can you invert the fraction to 6/8 to find out what time signature you're supposed to play. Isn't that simple? :-P


John

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Saffron
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   Posted 2/3/2009 9:14 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Maybe what's needed is a slide-rule glued to a metronome ... lol

Brian

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SAJ
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   Posted 2/3/2009 10:33 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Can anyone comment on wacky time signatures from a performer's perspective? Do players take them in stride as just part of the modern working environment, or do they voice the same objections that we've heard here from many composers?
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Dr. Wiggy
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   Posted 2/3/2009 10:43 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
SAJ said...
Can anyone comment on wacky time signatures from a performer's perspective? Do players take them in stride as just part of the modern working environment, or do they voice the same objections that we've heard here from many composers?

They probably pay no attention to them whatsoever and take instruction from the conductor.


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Saffron
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   Posted 2/3/2009 11:16 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
SAJ said...
Can anyone comment on wacky time signatures from a performer's perspective? Do players take them in stride as just part of the modern working environment, or do they voice the same objections that we've heard here from many composers?
I am a player, as well as an MD and arranger/composer. In any and all of my musical modes (small "m"), these wonky time signatures mean absolutely nothing to me - and will continue to do so, until someone invents and gets broadly accepted, a set of noteheads and beam conventions devoted to third-notes, sixth-notes, ninth-notes, and so on ...
 
... and then 5th notes, 10th notes; 7th notes, 14th notes, etc. ad infinitum.
 
Brian
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Zuill
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   Posted 2/3/2009 11:50 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I think the question should be: How does Human Playback handle this? Once that is resolved, all should be well.

Zuill


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