A bug in tremolos?

Dorico doesn’t play back the top staff (1st violins in the screenshot) as 32nd notes, but as I understand, it should. It just plays normal 16nth notes. I created a test measure and slowed the tempo down and guess what I found out: when quarter notes have one slash tremolos, it plays them as 8th notes (as it should), 8th notes with one slash becomes 16th notes (as it should) but 16th notes with one slash become 64th notes…and so does two slashes. So when i notate 16th notes with one or two slashes, it doesn’t matter, it plays back 64th. Quite an annoiyng bug, I have to imagine the strings playing tremolos or notate them as the 2nd violin in the screenshot. But that looks uglyasd

You probably need to change the playback options for unmeasured tremolo… Change this to 4 and your problem will disappear…

It’s not an ‘annoying bug’, it’s a useful feature.

The reason your 2nd violins play as expected is that they are not playing ‘tremolo’, whereas your 1st’s are because of the slash.

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As far as I can see here, you @joonas are specifically wanting measured tremolos and there have been plenty of threads confirming various issues here – including this one which gives me the same result using the default Halion playback.

Unmeasured tremolos are something entirely different (and they seem to have their own bugs). I’m hoping for some improvements in v4.

Okay, this helped, but in my mind, it doesn’t make sense. It’s a standard, that one slash through the stem means you divide the value by 2 and end up with 2 notes in the space of one (one slash half note → two quarter notes; one slash quarter → two eighths; one slash eighth → two 16ths etc.). With two slashes, you divide the value by 4 (two slashes half note → four 8ths; two slashes quarter note → four 16ths etc.). That is when you are dealing with x/4 time signatures. With x/8 time signatures, where x is a multiple of 3, one slash means dividing by 3 and two slashes dividing by 6.
With three slashes it’s usually tremolo non ritmico.
Could you please describe the “useful feature” to me with an example? As I understand it now, it seems to set the minimum number of strokes of a tremolo (the unmeasured part I don’t understand). So, when I write 8th note with one slash, it should plat back triplets, because the minimum is 3 not 2? Yet, it plays back two 16ths.

Thanks in advance

Am I understanding correctly, that by ‘meausred’ tremolos you mean tremolos, which take up a whole bar?

sorry, @joonas , I wrote the exact opposite of what I actually meant and have now corrected. Three slashes is usually tremolo non ritmico (unmeasured) as you say and it’s these tremolos which are normally supported in library playback with a specific articulation. The measured tremolos halve the duration for each slash and there are indeed problems with Dorico with getting correct playback of the shorter notes in certain circumstances.

Your example plays actually correctly in NotePerformer but not in Halion. More complex rhythms tend to more frequently have issues. It must be remembered that the actual articulation will not change with the single or double slash unless specifically mapped in the Expression Map so results will depend also on the particular articulation chosen (likely one reason why NP which automates articulation according to to note length does not have the issue BUT it too fails with something like a 1 slash 32nd note, irrespective of speed.

No, this is wrong. Just as beams are shorthand for flags, slashes are shorthand for beams. Adding n slashes subdivides the note into repeated shorter notes with that amount of beams. If the original note already had one or more beams (like in the OP), the beams add up.
Half note with 1 slash → 4 eighths
Half note with 2 slashes → 8 16ths
Half note with 3 slashes → 16 32nds (in principle, if playable)
Quarter + 1 slash → 2 eighths
Quarter + 2 slashes → 4 16ths
Quarter + 3 slashes → 8 32nds (in principle)
Eighth + 1 slash → 2 16ths
Eighth + 2 slashes → 4 32nds
Whether the 32nds are actually playable as such, depends purely on tempo. In a fast tempo, playing 32nds may be impossible, and then it’s understood to bow ‘as fast as possible’, i.e. unmeasured tremolo. In a slow to moderate tempo, this may be ambiguous, as 32nds may be quite viable. A composer (Tchaikovsky for example) might indicate 4 or more slashes just to be sure it’s too fast to play rhythmically.
This means the threshold for unmeasured tremolo can’t actually be a general preference: the amount of (added) beams depends on tempo.

In general, when orchestrating, it may be helpful to write out the first group of, say, four or eight 32nds, just to let the player know it’s measured, not ‘tremolo’.

IMO, calling any slashed stem a ‘tremolo’ is wrong to begin with: they’re shorthand for rhythmic subdivisions, which came to be used for real tremolo as well.
And BTW, there doesn’t exist shorthand to subdivide longer notes into quarters. Quarters don’t have beams, therefore no slash can represent them.


I don’t get this – @joonas is correct as far as I can see and indeed this is also what the Dorico manual states. Tremolos

Nope, that’s not what the manual says. TBF: the manual doesn’t explain it very well, although the information as such is correct:
The number of tremolo strokes indicates both how many times notes are repeated and how fast they are. In measured tremolos, for example, one tremolo stroke on the stem of a quarter note (crotchet) indicates two eighth notes (quavers) are played, whereas three tremolo strokes on the stem of a quarter note indicates eight 32nd notes are played. (…)
The number of tremolo strokes corresponds to a precise rhythm in the prevailing tempo and meter
It’s not saying the note value is halved for any note value. The quarter example happens to correspond, but for halve notes and bigger it’s not a division in 2, it’s a division in eighths etc.
Just remember: slashes are shorthand for beams, which add up to existing beams, if any.

“The measured tremolo articulates its notes in a clearly perceived rhythmic pattern, and the number of stem slashes represents the exact note values desired: one slash would call for eighth notes; two slashes, sixteenth notes; and so on.”
Gardner Read’s Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice

“Each line placed on the stem indicates the rhythmic value of the tremolo. For instance, one line will indicate eighth notes, two lines, sixteenth notes.”
Essential Dictionary of Music Notation, Alfred Publishing

I suspect that we all mean the same thing and it’s a question of semantics but I understand and accept the technical point on minims or longer notes

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Gardner Read and the dictionary may be authorities and all, but they’re not entirely correct here: two slashes through the stem of an eighth note do not create sixteenths, but 32nds.

This comment is most helpful as it explains what I am seeing in some of Brahms’ notation in his Symphony No 1.

For that matter, this whole thread has been instructive. Now all I need is for my brain receptors to keep it all straight. Funny thing about that, they aren’t always successful.

You’re right: I suppose that’s where the ‘divide by 2’ rule kicks in – only on flagged/beamed notes. (Which is another way of saying 'add the flag/beam and strokes together for the intended ‘beaming’.)

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Yes! That’s the approach I like to take when there is even a little doubt. Usually half notes do not get slashed, the most common is 8th and 16th notes with one slash (usually in the strings section). These I don’t think it’s necessary to specify how to divide.

Sorry, half notes (minims) are very frequently slashed, especially in classical and baroque music.

Yes, in orchestra parts slashed halves and quarters (and even wholes, with the slashes written above) are extremely common. Paper and copper plates were always at a premium, composers and publishers used abbreviations whenever they could.

Well, that was 400 years ago I’m afraid :smiley:

No, these abbreviations may stem from the baroque era, but they have been part of standard (western) music notation ever since. Any modern orchestra player is familiar with them.


“Anytime between 400 years ago and last night.”