Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

OK, a daft title but I was hoping for an interesting and informative discussion re the structure of tunes.

Basically, I’m curious as to why you can get so many possibilities to notate a tune or piece of music and how even seemingly simple tunes can differ in their transcriptions and yet, still, sound the same musically!

Is it just the musical backround of the transcriber or perhaps it’s specific to certain instruments and/or musical arrangements for certain events?

For example, I often encounter "tied notes" in music which I am required to learn/practise. Maybe it’s a a "fiddle" thing where bow direction, slurs etc are important but wouldn’t a minim instead of two crotchets work just as well? I’ve even seen things like "tied" dotted crotchets and quavers in my time!

Perhaps the musical software has been a contributing factor(both in terms of suggestions and creative ideas)?

Or perhaps the smaller notes i.e. crotchets and quavers are just left there to indicate that there is an alternative option available when playing the tune? Or, in some cases, this might have been how the tune was originally intended to be played?

I’m not classically trained and mainly self taught as regards "the dots". So, I don’t know if these different conventions apply to other forms of music or is it mainly in "trad"?

I am also aware that "pipe music" has a unique style of notation too which is obviously a part of their own tradition but that would be a different discussion.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

As far as I am concerned, the ‘tie’ exists primarily i. to extend a note across a bar line and ii. to make up a note length that cannot be expressed using a dotted note alone.

There might be situations where using tied notes instead of a longer, single note makes the timing visually more explicit – for example, where there are multiple voices – but is merely making the music easier to read, not changing how it sounds. It could perhaps also be of some use in traditional music, for notating, say, a long roll – which is, in effect, a ‘continuous’ note with grace notes inserted into it – for instructional purposes.

Someone more learned in music theory can probably give more scenarios where the tie is an indispensable piece of notation.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

I can understand the "extending a note across a bar line" scenario.

Also, for subtleties in timing and pacing, in some cases.
How notes are grouped together can also make a difference too…. e..g. "Adf Adf" as opposed to "Ad fA df" etc

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

It’s difficult to picture what you’re talking about without examples, but for discussion’s sake…

Staff notation is designed to make things easy. Barlines, for example; imagine there were no bar lines, just a string of notes from start to finish. The bar lines make a piece of music enormously easier to read and understand. Within a bar, many people prefer (or were taught - I don’t know) to keep each half of the bar separate, so would rather tie two notes to achieve this. Others don’t bother about that, therefore the following bar, written two ways:

| FA A2- A2 FA | or |FA A4 FA |.

It makes no difference to how it sounds, but it’s simply personal preference.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Thanks Nigel,

There are many different examples, of course, but I started thinking about it after I started to learn this tune https://thesession.org/tunes/13931

The setting I’m learning has lots of "ties" but, as you see, there are many different possibilities for such a seemingly simple tune.
It would be interesting to see what Finlay originally although he may even composed it in bagpipe notation.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

"what Finlay originally *intended*", I meant to say.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Oh, the marvels of notation… Some traditions see (and talk about) the eighth notes of a reel as sixteenth notes. (Some even notate them in 2/4 - of course, two groups of four notes in each make little difference, but some us might "read" it through a polka filter). Some hear/notate a hornpipe with a lot of triplets as 12/8. Some hear jigs (obviously two measures bumped together) as 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. ("6/8? Can’t be! It’s in 4/4 - one, two, three, four!") Then waltzes and everything else.

Then Richard D. Cook has said that scores for studio recordings are notated in 4/4, no matter what.

Everything is possible, it seems.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

There are occasions when tying crotchets (quarters) together might be advantageous in ABC notation, where chord names are linked to notes. So, for example if you wanted a A-Bm7-A/C#-D progression over a semi-breve (whole note) A, you would have to notate it (unless I am mistaken) as:
"A"A2-"Bm7"A2- "A/C#"A2-"D"A2.

There is also the possibility that having tied crotchets, as in, say, |A2-A2-A2 eA| rather than |A6 eA|, helps in the counting process?

Ultimately, though, as Nigel said above, we all have our own preferred transcription "rules" or options. For example, for ease of reading and a clearer layout, I prefer to have a start or end repeat at the start or end of a line. I can afford that luxury because paper is cheap and anyway, most scores are held electronically. But if that meant an orchestral part score extended over four pages rather than three then that preference might not be considered so important.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

What I was taught was that when playing or singing a long note (with an instrument or voice that can vary in dynamics), you naturally decrescendo, so that the note always gets gradually quieter at the end than the beginning.

What a tied note signals is that you "renew the loudness" in the middle of the note, so the second half is not quieter than the first.

So it DOES make a difference to how it sounds.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

That’s all well and good, NylonFlute, but since Johnny’s example is a tune composed on the bagpipes, an instrument which has no dynamic range (well I suppose they do - ON or OFF) that can’t have been composer Finlay MacDonald’s intention.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Also, some music software settings/some strict notation conventions do not allow you to have a note across the middle of the bar, as Nigel Gatherer says above, and require that it is a tied note there to split the two halves of the bar. Even though bagpipes can, I’m pretty sure, play that.

(I don’t see any ties in the versions of the tune posted on the Session, so maybe if Johnny posts a copy of his, it would be clearer what’s going on there.)

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Crotchet? That’s a perverse notion.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

"Also, some music software settings/some strict notation conventions do not allow you to have a note across the middle of the bar"

Really. Wow, how clunky. I presume that doesn’t apply to whole notes.

I think maybe Johnny has a setting like X:1, but with the quarters tied.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Such a convention does make it easier to read where you are in the bar relative to the beat, by making sure that there is a note on the beat, whether or not it’s audibly distinct from the note before it.

It’s kind of like the Oxford comma —- it’s not a matter of grammar or spelling so it’s kind of optional, there are some scenarios where it helps disambiguate things, but an editor should be consistent whether they use it or not.

That doesn’t really make sense for Elliot Finn MacDonald, though, as from what I can see of it, all the notes are on the beat or on even fractions of the beat; there are no weird syncopations or even dotted notes involved. So from what I understand of Johnny’s description, that does sound really weird. Maybe the notator got very enthusiastic about counting in eight instead of in four? Or had planned chord changes underneath the melody that would go across the quarter note?

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

I’ve just submitted the setting in question.

Well almost… There’s an odd symbol like a degree sign under the arch of the tie sign in bars 1 and 6. I don’t know how to notate same.
Maybe someone could also clarify what this is supposed to be?
🙂)

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Now that I’ve had a look, I see no earthly reason for notating it in that way. When importing midi files into some music software programs, the anacrusis is ignored; "fixing" it tends to result in such craziness as your setting displays.

As for the "degree symbol" - it could be representing a loop symbol used by some fiddlers. Just a guess.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Well, as I said, I prefer Donald’s setting.

If I’d seen that at the start, I would have had less trouble getting the drift of the tune. As it was, I found myself having to check out recordings just to get a feel of things.
It’s all OK now, though. 🙂

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Yes, I’ve seen the result of displaced anacruses that Nigel mentions.
A lot of people never get past the defaults of whatever program they are using. "If the program does it, it must be correct" is what a lot of folks assume.

Also agree the tie with the degree symbol below it could be trying to represent Scott Skinner’s looped slur.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Mmm,

Just out of interest, I’ve tried adding a little grace note by gently flicking my pinkie on the "E" note on the A string.
It sounds quite effective.

Anyway, it does appear to be a "looped slur". There are examples here…

https://groups.io/g/abcusers/attachment/18696/0/image1.JPG

Apparently, it’s a single bow and the player stops momentarily. I’m not quite sure if that is the best way to play it though.. 🙂

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

The conversation has become mostly about notation. But, one other thing Johnny Jay asked was why the tune or melody sounds the same, despite different notation.

On flute, once rolls become easy, it’s like you have a hammer and everything’s a nail. But, then you notice that a roll can be swapped by a long-short, or a note-down-note, or a note-breath-note, or a staccato-rest-note, without losing the basic melody.

In jigs, the middle note of a three-note half-bar is weaker and less important melodically, therefore it is (usually) a good place to sip a breath.

I’m sure there are other variations like that. Also good musicians kind of just feel where they can change things without messing up the melody. (Or sometimes the melody DOES get messed up.)

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

The conversation has become mostly about notation. But, one other thing Johnny Jay asked was why the tune or melody sounds the same, despite different notation.

On flute, once rolls become easy, it’s like you have a hammer and everything’s a nail. But, then you notice that a roll can be swapped by a long-short, or a note-down-note, or a note-breath-note, or a staccato-rest-note, without losing the basic melody. In jigs, the middle note of a three-note half-bar is weaker and less important melodically, therefore it is (usually) a good place to sip a

I’m sure there are other variations like that.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Back in the days before computerised notation programs became available to us all, I was also taught that, as Nigel says, you keep your various note groupings separate, e.g. in 6/8, you group them as 123 456; if it then happens that 3 and 4 are tied, you would still write them as quavers 123-tie-456. If you chose to write them as 12 crotchet 56, this would be the format for a 3/4 bar rather than 6/8. Yes, the notes would be the same, but the emphasis different.
What gets me is when some computerised notation goes wild and starts throwing ties in all over the place when they are not needed. This happened the other week with a particular waltz score; instead of showing dotted crotchet, quaver, crotchet, it kept showing crotchet-tie-quaver, quaver, crotchet. Took up a lot of extra space, harder to read and totally unnecessary to boot!

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

trish santer’s dotted crotchet in a waltz, and the equivalent in a 3/2 tune, is what the OP had me thinking. In those cases, when one is familiar with those metres in trad tunes, splitting the bar in half that way is not surprising. But is keeping a note marked on the 2 easier for sight readers in other traditions or none?

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

I wouldn’t have thought "tradition" had anything to do with the ability to sight read, unless, of course, they were GH bagpipers (who seem to use their own transcription rules)!

In the end transcribing boils down to setting out for ease of reading. Different people will have slightly different preferences, but broadly transcriptions should be the same. If I have a dotted crotchet starting on the second beat of a bar of 4/4 I’d probably use a crotchet tied to a quaver, but for a minim I’d leave it as a minim. Other people might use tied crotchets.

"…instead of showing dotted crotchet, quaver, crotchet, it kept showing crotchet-tie-quaver, quaver, crotchet"
Not sure why you couldn’t have overridden this, Trish. One of the first things to do with any program is to find out how to bypass the defaults.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Donald K: it wasn’t my software or my notation! It was presented to us to play from. I won’t say whose, but it went very promptly back to the drawing board!!
I agree with your suggestion in your middle para there re the dotted crotchet over the middle of the bar. I would do the same.

Re: Why "Tie" yourself down when you could use a Minim number of Crotchets?

Maybe ‘tradition’ was the wrong word. I meant the way tunes of a that sort often go when played by those who often listen to and play that sort of tune. Which can be confusing for those who learned what the time signature means from a book or a from school music lesson.