Grace Note Tuplets

Hi all,

When I have grace note enabled, and press ; to enter a tuplet, it just turns the grace note entry off and starts a real tuplet. Is it possible to enter tuplets in grace notes?

I realise that the argument could be made that there’s no point to using tuplets in grace notes, since grace notes are already flexible in terms of timing, but I think it changes the inflection with which the grace notes are played.
Also, they are used in a score (by Piazzolla) which I’m engraving at the moment and would like to stay true to the original.

We do not support grace note tuplets at the moment, I am afraid. You can however imitate the tuplet number or ratio with text entry (Shift+X).

Good to know. Thanks!

Grace note tuplets are an “exotic”, non-standard notation.
A group of 3 grace notes is often played faster than a group of 2, without any tuplet markings.
Since a grace note’s timing is only approximate, defining an X-number of undefined durations in space of Y-number of undefined durations is contradictory and could be confusing.

A much more efficient way to differentiate the speed of grace notes is using different rhythmic values.
A 16-note grace note will be faster than an 8-note grace note (but not necessary twice as fast).

Most of the time an exotic notation is just an eye candy, which only makes music more difficult to read.
If you can’t tell the difference between an actual performance of an exotic notation vs its traditional equivalent, it usually just cuts your rehearsal time.

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As I said,

I realise that the argument could be made that there’s no point to using tuplets in grace notes, since grace notes are already flexible in terms of timing, but I think it changes the inflection with which the grace notes are played.

However, it does exist in this Piazzolla score, and he isn’t exactly fringe in terms of notation. If I’m being hired to reproduce something exactly, I would like to be able to do so, whether or not I believe it to be ‘contradictory [or] confusing’.

I see your point. The problem is, there is an infinite number of non-standard cases.
Some of them come from errors in notation. Should you be able to reproduce those as well? Probably.
Should a notation software provide a solution for all those extreme case? I’m not so sure.

The only solution which gives you a complete freedom is a graphic editor.
OTOH, a music notation editor is about rules, not freedom.

For example, do you think Dorico should provide support for writing music from right-to-left instead of left-to-righ? :wink:

Do see my point?

If you don’t care about playback, it already does :laughing:

More seriously, it’s an interesting discussion. Since Dorico is still missing obvious functionality, it might be a bit premature, but ultimately, I think a perfect notation program would be able to write just anything. Whatever is not “legal” notation would probably have to be written as non-semantic graphics, and borderline cases might only be possible as workarounds - which is already the case for the topic of this thread. However, it IS slightly illogical that you can choose (I believe) any note value you want for grace notes, but not tuplets (after all, tuplets are note values, right?).
OTOH, it could be going to far to provide the complete functionality of something like Illustrator within Dorico, even given endless time and resources. After all, Illustrator already exists, so whoever needs it for the occasional fine-tuning of Dorico projects, can just buy it. So maybe it’s a better strategy that Dorico only or mostly deals with semantically meaningful types of notation and leaves the graphic designing to designated programs.

We will most likely always be somewhere in between, but it’s absolutely an interesting discussion. I would like to hear what the team’s position is on this.

I think the difference is that grace note tuplets are far more common than left-to-right reading western notation. I wasn’t exactly looking for them.
I think Piazzolla knew his genre very well, and he makes a distinction in the same piece between three grace notes with and without a triplet.

Although the notation is rare, it is by no means limited to Piazzolla. Here’s a famous page from RK’s Scheherazade with an opening triplet in a cadenza sequence written with grace notes. I guarantee you that the notation affects the performance of it. It would of course be easier to engrave once we have cue-sized notes available, and would perhaps be more correct anyway. BTW, at the moment, Dorico cannot notate that page and it is no picnic for the other notation programs either. Cue notes would make it almost doable though. We still couldn’t fake the time signature, and the notehead in the strings is not available. Also, the current implementation of fermatas would complicate matters. Still, with cue size notes, we would be going in the right direction to notate such a complex measure.

The example from Scheherazade uses a “cadenza” notation, which allows for more notes in a bar than defined by the time signature. Cadenzas often use cue-size notes to indicate their unique free time nature.
Very different animal than grace notes.

I think any notation program will ultimately rely on work-around’s for some things, since musical practice will always be at least slightly ahead of what composers want to express. A superior music-notation program will supply the tools to effect such work-around’s.

It seems similar (in a twisted way) to the quote (which seems a parallel to one I heard attributed to Mark Twain)
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Douglas Adams in Mostly Harmless (1992).

Brilliant quote!

Nevertheless, the notation exists, and is far more common than your irrelevant example of right-to-left music.
It also can’t be said that it doesn’t affect the performance.


Love the quote!!!

How about Dorico allowing infinitely variable note size as a parameter in the Properties window? That would give a lot of flexibility in certain situations.

not sure you understood what I said.
A cadenza notation is very common and it is a part of standard notation practice.
Grace note tuplets are not.

They are however much more common than right-to-left reading music, which you implied was equivalent for someone to suggest be added to Dorico.

I meant the “right-to-left music” as an example that just because something exists doesn’t mean it should be supported by a notation software.
Implementing incorrect notation leads to promoting incorrect practices for future generations of musicians.
Every composer has a right to use exceptions or otherwise incorrect notation, it doesn’t necessary mean everything it should be directly supported in software.

For the record, I consider grace note tuplets to be incorrect notation, and it should be avoided.
If you must break the rules there are always workarounds.

Why is it an incorrect notation if it can change the performance of the player?

I would think that incorrect notation can result in incorrect change of performance.

One reason there are so many different notations us that there are many people with strong opinions on what is “right” and “wrong”, of course :wink:

My personal view is that the composer’s original notation is almost always worth preserving, even if it’s “wrong” by modern standards, and even if nobody is sure exactly what it was supposed to mean - once it has been thrown away, there is no way go back to it!