How Best To Notate Tremolos From Brahms 1 Mvmt 4 Rehearsal B

In the first bars of Brahms 1 Mvmt 4 Rehearsal B the high strings play a tremolo. I looks to me that Brahms is using the first half of the second bar to demonstrate how he wants the following bars played.

I am not well-versed in tremolo notation, and I’m hoping someone can suggest how best to notate this example for playback. I can trigger the tremolo in the VSL Synchron Player instance, I just need to figure out how to represent what Brahms is showing so that it plays back correctly.

Isn’t it all the same thing? One beat of sextuplets, followed by another, followed by two beats of 12-uplets (i.e. 2 groups of sextuplets).

It should playback correctly, shouldn’t it?

I’ve not found a way either to notate this correctly, or get playback to work. Would appreciate knowing if you can find a method.

The nearest I can get is
But the dots are ‘lost’ en route and the playback is just 8 semiquavers (ie. ignoring the tuplet)

Right, that part I’ve got.

But given that these are two-note tremolos, do I notate the alternating notes as chords or as successive notes “tied” by a tremolo? My concern is partly notational but mostly playback given that I am using a tremolo patch from Synchron Strings Pro in VSL’s Synchron Player

As far as I know, Janus’s solution is the best that is possible right now with Dorico. I’ve had similar problems with tremolo dots and playback in Mahler 9. Playback works, but it’s 16th notes, not the 12-tuplets. So it sounds a little too slow.

Notating them as chords would mean playing repeated double stops (which will turn out to be played divisi in normal orchestral practice). If you need to keep the alternating notes, but notated more compactly, then use Brahms’ notation. Indeed, if you give the first group explicitly, without the abbreviation, players will understand what’s intended.
Whether Dorico is able to play this back is to be seen/heard (I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try for myself).
I think Janus in on the right track for the notation. I’ll try, and be back if I know more.

Okay, I’ve figured out that if I enter two successive quarter-notes and apply a multi-note tremolo it converts them both to half-notes. That answers one question. But it sounds like I’m experiencing the same problem as Janus.

Hmm. Yes, that is tricky. I too can only get the same result as Janus.

For playback, could you make them fall into ‘unmeasured tremolo’ territory, and give the unmeasured trems a length that fits?

I can get dots on the trem notes if I do it in 12/8. But I only get 10 notes in playback!

This is where my unfamiliarity with measured/unmeasured tremolos comes into play. I can read explanations online and think I understand them only to find out when it comes time to apply what I’ve learned I either don’t understand it or I’ve forgotten what it was I understood. I read up on it yesterday and understood it…then at least. Not so much now.

Mid’60’s with mind-affecting heart failure is not an ideal situation for grappling with what for me is complex, neither is it for retaining anything. Gotta love it.

What’s the Dorico notation for unmeasured tremolos?

Thanks you guys for your patient help.

There is no notation as such. You can set the number of slashes at which Dorico will switch to unmeasured (Playback options->Timing-> Tremolos)

Classical convention is that 3 strokes are unmeasured (unless tempo is slow, as in Tchaik 6 last movement…

The usual convention is that 3 strokes (and you’re out) is usually fast enough not to bother with accuracy!
But in Playback Options, you can set the limit, and there’s a setting for the speed at which they should play. So (and I haven’t tested this), you could set the limit to 2 strokes, and then Dorico would think your trems are unmeasured. Then it’s ‘just’ a question of choosing a speed for them that fits.

EDIT: scratch all of this. TBH, I’d go for one file for notation, and one for playback.

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Very much appreciate the advice. I’ll mess around with my options.

Since this project is for my own consumption, I’m wondering if it might be best to proceed for now with a non-tremolo articulation that suits the context halfway decent, move on with my project, and await further developments in Dorico.

But if I can get tremolo to work okay, I will.

I’ll let you guys get back to your regularly scheduled programming (an American TV expression for returning to whatever it is you were watching before being interrupted).

It seems right now my best bet is to notate the tremolo in detail as if non-tremolo.

I can get the precise Brahms notation with a bit of trickery:
Schermafbeelding 2021-08-24 om 16.26.25

The trick is to have nested tuplets (as shown). For the 12-tuplet I did:

  • type 4 to select sixteenths
  • type ; for tuplet, type 12:8, enter
  • type 5 for eighths
  • type ; for tuplet, then 3:3, enter
  • enter a dotted quarter (crotchet)
  • select it (including the 3:3 tuplet), do R for repeat, adjust pitch
  • select both dotted quarters, and turn them in a 2-note tremolo
  • hide brackets & numbers to taste.

Unfortunately, the 2-note tremolos still don’t playback als sextuplets, but as regular 16ths, as reported above. Let’s hope this will be improved in a future version of Dorico. (IIRC, it’s come up before, so the Team is probably aware already).


The only way one is going to hear tuplet fingered tremolos is to write them out on a hidden staff. This is not (yet) a feature playback supports.

Thank you. I thought nested tuplets might be the way to go, but got lost in the maths!