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Topic: The awkwardness of polyphony (Read 2524 times) previous topic - next topic

The awkwardness of polyphony
There are many aspects of NWC I love, but trying to enter more than one part to a stave is not one of them.  I realize this CAN be done - clumsily - with layering, or even more clumsily by pretending it's a lot of chords.  Is there really a fundamental technical reason why NWC could not cope with entering multiple lines on a single stave?  Could a note not be tagged as belonging to one part rather than another?  E.g. by temporary colour-coding? 

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #1
Hello Roger,
Maybe my user tool 'LayerVoices' can be of any help ?

https://forum.noteworthycomposer.com/?topic=9028.msg64219#msg64219
  • Last Edit: 2015-03-28 01:41 pm by Opagust
Always look on the bright side of life!

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #2
It is still necessary to put the parts on different staves, but these pages (run them while NWC2 is open) can move ties and slurs out of the way when played concurrently or move notes and accidentals so they won't be on top of each other.
  • Save file
  • Cut the problem measures to clipboard
  • Paste in webpage
  • Repeat with same measures in other staff
  • Click Submit
  • Copy them back via the clipboard
The shortcut alt/tab can swap between them w/o moving the cursor.
spacepart.htm
  • Last Edit: 2016-08-11 09:05 pm by Warren Porter
Since 1998

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #3
There are many aspects of NWC I love, but trying to enter more than one part to a stave is not one of them.  I realize this CAN be done - clumsily - with layering, or even more clumsily by pretending it's a lot of chords.  Is there really a fundamental technical reason why NWC could not cope with entering multiple lines on a single stave?  Could a note not be tagged as belonging to one part rather than another?  E.g. by temporary colour-coding?

There is probably no 'fundamental technical reason' why this might not be accomplished in NWC - if that were the way the author wanted it to do it. He has chosen the approach of layered staves, which might not be the easiest or most convenient to enter/edit, but layers have a number of other uses, such as more complex lyrics and annotations. @Opagust and @Warren Porter have mentioned several tools or techniques that might make the layering process a bit less clumsy.

Mike

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #4
....I realize this CAN be done - clumsily - with layering....

I don't consider layering clumsy. Giving each voice its own staff gives it maximum freedom to be notated properly. If each voice has its own staff, no voice is subordinate to any other. Layering is actually perfectly suited to polyphonic writing - the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Perhaps you simply need to reconsider what you are trying to do with the score.

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #5
I don't consider layering clumsy. Giving each voice its own staff gives it maximum freedom to be notated properly. If each voice has its own staff, no voice is subordinate to any other. Layering is actually perfectly suited to polyphonic writing - the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Perhaps you simply need to reconsider what you are trying to do with the score.
I am a proponent of layering, and use it for choral scores for our church choir. One advantage of having each voice on its own staff is that it is easy to mute or alter the volume for specific parts for practice purposes. But that said, there are a few things about layered staves that can require additional tweaking during score entry. For example, the logic that automatically offsets vertically adjacent noteheads in a chord doesn't work across layered staves; you need to edit notes/chords manually when this happens (or, run a user tool that automates the process). Also, stem lengths on layered notes in the same chord may require adjustment so they are compatible lengths, when the notes are beamed. I would not quite call this "clumsy", but the process can be tedious, especially if one is trying to create a score that both looks/prints nice and plays back correctly.

Overall, I think that layers are a very powerful feature that take a bit of learning to use effectively. And, of course, with great power comes great responsibility.

Mike

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #6
Thank you to all of you for your very prompt and thoughtful responses.  I agree that layering forces one to think genuinely polyphonically, but if one takes the example of a prelude from the 48 for instance, the number of parts will be varying, and often need to switch back and forth between treble and bass clef.  When the layers are collapsed, the redundant rests and superimposed clefs are simply unacceptable.  I will have a go with the specialist tools mentioned ... 

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #7
When the layers are collapsed, the redundant rests and superimposed clefs are simply unacceptable.  I will have a go with the specialist tools mentioned ...
One additional item to consider when layering is the Boundary Change command, specifically the "Start a collapsible section" and "Cancel/forbid collapse" options. This can be used as an alternative to marking rests/clefs as hidden, so that they won't show through the layers.

One last comment: if you are changing clefs in layered parts, you pretty much need to do the same clef changes in each staff that is layered, if you want the merged notes to make any sense. Unless I'm not understanding how you are using the layers in your score.

Mike

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #8
When the layers are collapsed, the redundant rests and superimposed clefs are simply unacceptable.
You can hide the redundant rests and clefs.  Select them, Cntl/E, and visibility tab.

One additional item to consider when layering is the Boundary Change command, specifically the "Start a collapsible section" and "Cancel/forbid collapse" options. This can be used as an alternative to marking rests/clefs as hidden, so that they won't show through the layers.
Mike's suggestion can be quite useful for vocal scores.  One idea might be to use two scores each for alto and tenor parts.  The layered part can be used for the chorale while the unlayered part would be used for the fugue.

Edited change: quote Mike
  • Last Edit: 2015-03-28 10:33 pm by Warren Porter
Since 1998

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #9
There are many aspects of NWC I love, but trying to enter more than one part to a stave is not one of them.  I realize this CAN be done - clumsily - with layering, or even more clumsily by pretending it's a lot of chords.  Is there really a fundamental technical reason why NWC could not cope with entering multiple lines on a single stave?  Could a note not be tagged as belonging to one part rather than another?  E.g. by temporary colour-coding?
Seems to me that would be more clumsy than layering. 

Edited - I responded to this without seeing the other posts.  I don't know why it came up on my screen first.  So just ignore it.  (Is there a "delete" function to handle stupid mistakes like this?)

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #10
(Is there a "delete" function to handle stupid mistakes like this?)

If you click the More... button, there should be an option to Remove the post.

Mike

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #11
Thank you again for all your ideas.  I realize now that my original problem was not well-formulated: it is not so much polyphony that is a problem , as there are work-arounds that can make this possible, if not very conveniently.  Rather, it is that NMC thinks in terms of staves.  This is fine for instrumental and vocal ensembles, but is not appropriate for keyboard, where a melodic phrase may need to wander back and forth between two staves: a couple of well-known Bach examples are attached, which I simply do not think NWC can reproduce.  Even Finale seems to suffer from the same problem.  At the cost of making the calculation of the temporal durations quite demanding (but clearly doable, or we would not be able to calculate it ourselves!) I feel that were one to be starting all over again it would be good if the user could designate a pair of staves as 'keyboard', and be free to place notes one either of them without redundant rests or unnecessary - and sometimes conflicting - changes of clef.   
  • Last Edit: 2015-04-02 02:36 pm by Roger Carpenter

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #12
I agree that piano players see it as a Grand Staff, not two staves with special decoration. That said, no notation package I'm aware of treats it that way.
a couple of well-known Bach examples are attached, which I simply do not think NWC can reproduce.
Think again. The first example is attached. The second is well within the abilities of a dozen members here. I'll leave an example up to one of them :)

All of this is going to become much easier in NWC 2.75
  • Last Edit: 2015-04-03 07:40 am by Rick G.
Registered user since 1996

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #13
Nice, Rick. One small problem: you evidently have Highlight 4 set to white; I've set Highlight 7 to white. So your whiteout shows out as "yellow-out" on my machine. Others may show it in various colors. Nevertheless, it gets the idea across.

I have to admit that when I saw Roger's post my first thought was that I should whip out an example. My second thought was, "Nah, Rick will do it better," and since my wife and I were about to leave on a hike I went with thought #2. But the point here - and now I'm addressing Roger - is that there is actually very little notation NWC can't duplicate, thanks to the flexibility that things like layers and headless, stemless noteheads give us. Cross-staff beaming is a pretty simple example.

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #14
Think again. The first example is attached. The second is well within the abilities of a dozen members here. I'll leave an example up to one of them :)

And here is the second example - not carefully checked - but just to prove the point.  Extra time could have been spent in getting a split bar at the page end - but not really needed.
For those that don't like "boondocs" - sorry.
 
Rich.

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #15
Cross-staff beaming is a pretty simple example.
Are you sure?
Registered user since 1996

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #16
I guess the best response to that question, Rick, is that I've always been able to do it pretty quickly when needed. Then again, I'm not as picky about getting it perfect as you are. Not a complaint about your work, which I admire; just a statement of fact. You want to get as close as possible to the work of a good music engraver. I'll settle for legible when printed.

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #17
I've been following this discussion (with a few comments) and have found the examples interesting and useful. I don't notate a lot of piano parts (which seem to have the highest occurrence of cross-staff beams) but I've thought about the issue a bit. As some might know, a number of us have been involved in the creation of user plugins for the upcoming release of NWC 2.75 (currently in beta). Some of these plugins are attempts to make certain types of notation simpler or more flexible. (If you haven't already seen them, you can check them out in the User Plugins forum.) One thing that occurs to me is that it should be possible to create a plugin that could ease the creation of cross-staff beams. It also occurs to me that another plugin creator might already be working on such an object, in which case it would make sense to "reach out" to avoid duplication of effort.

Or, perhaps this type of discussion doesn't belong in the General Discussion forum?

Mike

Re: The awkwardness of polyphony
Reply #18
Thought maybe I should put my money where my mouth is.

Here's a quick-and-dirty version of the first measure of Roger's first Bach example, done my way. This took me about half an hour, roughly 10 minutes of which was used transcribing the notes into NWC. It could definitely be improved with a little more effort - the junction between the upper and lower staff beams is a little rough, and I've left the slur over the last two notes where NWC puts it instead of where it belongs - but no performer would have trouble reading it. I'll admit up front that Rick's clearly looks better, and would be the version of choice if the music were going to be published. If it's just going to be printed for a pianist or theorist to study, I suspect mine would do just fine -  with considerably less effort put into it. This is the difference between striving for perfection and just striving for legibility. No offense meant, Rick; just a different way of looking at the problem.

Bill