Notation With Variations

Notation With Variations

I was going to put all this in the "Notation Best Practices" thread, but I didn’t relay want to distract away from the OP, although this is somewhat related.

As for alternate endings for 1st and 2nd time round, I see that it’s quite easy to do.

Some of my own comps have a similar structure to jigs and reels, in the general form, common keys, tempo and time sigs, A/B/C parts etc, but that’s where the similarity ends.

I put a lot of significant variation in some of my tunes, and the 1st and 2nd rounds are significantly different, so I write them out in that way, rather than just once with the repeat symbol at the end.

It’s longer, uses more paper when printed, but (imo) makes for easier flow and reading, and it also takes care the pickup notes at the beginning, and at the start of the 2nd round.

Do you think there’s any benefit in writing out reels, jigs etc in this manner, if you put a significant amount of variation in when you actually play them?

I write the tunes using Harmony Assistant, using standard notation, but it’s easy to copy and paste bars, and it’s just as easy as copy / pasting if using abc notation.

Re: Notation With Variations

Your own tunes - notate them as you wish; they’re yours.
But traditional jigs, reels, etc. don’t need any more than the bare outline. It’s up to the player to decide which ornaments and variations to apply. And most trad players I’ve come across are, in the main (I include myself), not that hot on reading the dots. Adding a layer of elaborate ornamentation only makes it even more difficult for them.

Re: Notation With Variations

I think it’s fairly normal to write out a tune + variations in full. The reader then has the choice of just playing round the straight version again or going into the variations.

An alternative, as used in Jerry Holland’s books, is to put alternative versions of just the bars where there are variations below the main score, with dotted lines and stuff to show you where to put them. I find that really confusing.

Re: Notation With Variations

Any notation of traditional music is beside the point. Not even worth discussing except as reflecting an interest in any trivial thing, such as one’s favorite ice-cream or your favorite professional athlete.
How the music is played is the be-all and end-all of what we’re about. That’s what Michael Gill (still remember him?) insisted on. He was correct.

Re: Notation With Variations

@David Levine - I think you might be posting on the wrong thread here!

Re: Notation With Variations

@Stiamh - thanks for the link .. but I think there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here.

I use a little MIDI piano keyboard to enter the notes, via Harmony Assistant interface. I don’t touch abc at all, except to export it as a text file if needed.

I don’t think I’d use the ossia staves at all 🙂

Re: Notation With Variations

No. Don’t write out the ornamentation. Many players, struggle just to keep up on the main tune if it goes at a cracking pace. really good ornamentation, especially at faster tunes , should be left to those who are capable, and want to do it. There’s nothing wrong with playing a tough, fast tune, in a straightforward way. In fact is good. Ornamentation should be rare in a tune, yet absolutely, astonishingly amazing, and perfect. If you can’t do this, then play happily with everyone else.

Re: Notation With Variations

"Some of my own comps have a similar structure to jigs and reels, in the general form, common keys, tempo and time sigs, A/B/C parts etc, but that’s where the similarity ends.

I put a lot of significant variation in some of my tunes, and the 1st and 2nd rounds are significantly different, so I write them out in that way, rather than just once with the repeat symbol at the end."

I don’t know why having "significant variation" ends your tunes’ similarity to jigs and reels.

Any jig or reel that I’ve had time to work up has significant variation. That’s the very nature of ITM.

Yes (as I mentioned on the other thread) sometimes the best approach, when transcribing a tune from an actual performance, is to write out the entire performance in full, in a linear way, with no repeats.

BTW the music that studio musicians read when performing television and film scores is usually written out that way, I think because it’s foolproof. You just keep churning through the music from top to bottom, avoiding the potential for confusion that comes with repeats and 1st times and 2nd times etc.

The thing about variation in ITM reels and jigs (for example) is that there are various approaches, two that come to mind are:

1) musicians that play the first time through the tune, and sometimes the first two times through the tune, with little variation, letting "the tune" sink into the listener. Then when a variation is introduced it has more impact because it goes against what the listener is expecting.

2) musicians who vary a tune all over the place from the get-go. For me this has an unsettled feel because the listener can never get a notion of what "the tune" is. Well they get an overall gestalt of the tune, just not a specific melody.

"Good music is the balance between the familiar and the unexpected" it’s been said. And for sure JS Bach is a master of setting up the listener to firmly expect one thing, only to Crazy Ivan.

Liam O Flynn was also a master of the 1st approach mentioned above; sometimes it’s like he’s delivering a variation on a silver platter, rather than trying to sneak it by you.

In any case, as I mentioned on the other thread, since many ITM players don’t vary all over the place, but choose a particular phrase to concentrate most of their variations upon, a tune can be written out once, with Ossia measures.

Re: Notation With Variations

Hi Richard,

//I don’t know why having "significant variation" ends your tunes’ similarity to jigs and reels.//

I’m not sure what you meant - if you mean there is significant variation in my tunes and there is also that in Irish tunes, I agree.

//Some of my own comps have a similar structure to jigs and reels, in the general form, common keys, tempo and time sigs, A/B/C parts etc, but that’s where the similarity ends.//

Well, some could pass for general Irish style, and some definitely couldn’t, although the general form is the same.

See example links below :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qrd1pr2hc40g1ao/raindrops-for-leila.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fc3nxcna3q14c7y/uncle-festers-reel.JPG?dl=0

@heather mcdougall //No. Don’t write out the ornamentation.//

I agree. I normally just put a little turn symbol over the note, and the reader/player can handle it however they wish.