Custom Beams

I am looking at some Sophia Gubaidulina works and they feature some custom beams.
Is this possible to do?

Is this what you’re looking for?


The custom beams are staff text consisting of four repetitions of the SMuFL character wiggleVibratoSmallestSlowest (U+EAD3) with a large font size and a negative letter spacing. Note spacing changes were used to get the stems to align with the ends of the beams. Some adjustments of stem lengths and tuplet number positions were needed.


Wow, that’s impressive, John. Well done!

But what does it mean? Excessive vibrato?

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As to what this sort of thing means we mortal musicians who are not composers are not given to know. Unless the score has a preface. My aim is always clarity for the musician. This sort of stuff just slows you down while you scratch your head, and then probably do something other than intended.

This is what happens when I try to score by hand in the back of a taxi. :grimacing:


Thats great! How did you change the beam style to a SMuFL character?

@Andro @benwiggy
Its notation from her second Violin Concerto ‘In Tempus Praesens’.
It’s on the Score preface and it is used for ‘metrically respective rhythmically free group of notes’.

If I understand it correctly, the beams are only staff text.
You need so use tuplets (3:2 5:4), so there is no real beam.

I’ve no idea what “metrically respective” means, but I’m guessing that it’s just meant to be a bit loose…?

The score says ‘metrically resp.’
I just assume is respective as in you play loosely on that meter.

Take a look at this Dorico project:
Custom Beams.dorico (422.4 KB)

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As a native English speaker I don’t even understand this. Lack of clarity on top of lack of clarity. :frowning: Metrically respective? Huh?

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It’s actually ‘metrically resp.’
I don’t know what ‘resp.’ could mean, I am not a native speaker

Even worse! :slight_smile:


In the piano reduction there are normal beams, with the word rubato added :grinning:


@fratveno I was about to post that as a more clear suggestion! Text can do so much more than idiosyncratic invented notation.