Multi-note tremolo with off

I have a timpani part where I want to set a multi-note tremolo between two notes which have a total length of a quarter note plus a sixteenth note (summing to half note followed by an eighth note). After reading Inconsistent Multi-note tremolo beaming, I have tried to force duration to match with a variety of notations, with both being notated as:

  • eighth tied to dotted eighth
  • quarter tied to sixteenth
  • sixteenth tied to quarter

In no case will Dorico insert a multi-note tremolo. Here’s an example with the final version. Note that both the panel and the popover simply do nothing.

Presumably this because Dorico cannot figure out how to notate it as a single note (compare with the double-dotted half note in the following measure)? And I mean, fair enough, it is an odd duration! Alternative notation suggestions here welcome: I suppose I could notate it as a pair of multi-note tremolos between simpler rhythms?

Of course, after posting, which I found splitting into two simpler rhythms, with forced duration as necessary to make them match, does work:

Screen Shot 2022-05-27 at 15.34.39

(This is with dotted eighths in one multi-note tremolo and then eighths in another.)

Would still love to understand why the other approaches don’t work?

That last solution is what I used in a complex work last year. Yes, when the rhythms are complex, try and make things as legible as possible. I was even asked by the musicians to add a “rhythmic cue” above to explicit the duration of the multinote tremolos (double of the notated rhythm.)
I offered another option, with explicit trills (which would then have the same duration as the “cues”) but they were comfortable with that system.
Force duration is compulsory for dotted rhythms because Dorico needs to show the exact same rhythm (without a tie) in order to create a multinote tremolo. This has been a request of mine for many years now, but since it’s possible to achieve your goal once you know how, it hasn’t reached top priority yet.

I was wondering about the need for some kind of rhythmic cue here as well—what I really want to show is that it’s just the total notated length in a tremolo between the two timpani; on reflection what Dorico ended up pushing me toward seems reasonably clear. Any thoughts on whether/how this particular notation would be well-served by any additional note/cue?

I find your last picture self explanatory, no need for cues. In the work I had to engrave, a whole flow was made of these multinote tremolos and the rhythms were indeed complicated. Like dotted half-notes followed by 16th note… For two or three minutes :sweat_smile:

Excellent; that was my instinct on looking at it. That flow sounds… challenging. :joy: In this case, I’m grateful that Dorico pushed me to do the right thing, though it’d be nice to have had some kind of feedback that it wasn’t possible without simplifying the rhythmic notation.

@dspreadbury consider this a tiny feature request for some kind of feedback besides the thing just no-op-ing! @Lillie_Harris I wonder if this could be noted in the docs on multi-note tremolos?

It is already.

Yep, I read that page in full before posting, and again just now! I also read:

I don’t see any discussion in any of those (though I could just be missing them!) of when Dorico won’t apply a multi-note tremolo:

  • the need for Force Duration for notes which are part of a multi-note tremolo if they don’t match by default—which I discovered only via other posts in the forum
  • the limitations on the rhythms it will and won’t apply them to—my experimentation earlier suggested that any complexity of note which can be represented as a single notehead will work (as long as you force duration to require both notes to be represented the same way), but that tied notes cannot participate in multi-note tremolos.

(To be clear, no complaints here: this is subtle and I was able to figure it out, but having it documented might help other folks)

Might I draw your attention to this part of the linked page, it’s enclosed in a note to draw attention to it:

If you want to input multi-note tremolos, you must select at least two notes that have the same notated duration

Granted, it might be worth adding a related link to forcing the duration of notes at the end of that page. I will also make a note to review whether getting even more specific about tremolo note durations would be a help or a hindrance.

It is subtle, and there’s all kinds of information on various pages in the manual. But sometimes, reading the text is necessary.

Having been on the other side of much technical and documentation writing (indeed, spending a big chunk of my life there): I hear you loud and clear! And I know folks often don’t read the docs and it’s very frustrating as the author of said docs. It’s also impossible to deal with every possible question a user might have about what each concept is in every place that the concept appears, and the problem is particularly vexing for material which must serve as both guide and reference. (Distinction stolen from the Divio docs system.) In my case, not least because I have experienced the other side of this so much, I did read them, and repeatedly. Unfortunately I was unable to understand what they intended to convey!

I think there may be a degree of curse of knowledge in play here. From your response, it’s clear that the text should obviously have explained at least the Force Duration bit. It was, sadly, not at all obvious to me. :joy: Intuitively (rather than formally) I read “two notes that have the same notated duration” to mean they needed to have the same actual duration of notes, rather than allowing multi-note tremolos between notes of different duration (which is true, albeit as a necessary but insufficient part of the actual condition). I did not realize it meant the equal duration had to be notated the same way. Lest that seem silly (“that’s what it says, though!”), I initially interpreted it as above, and then on rereading when it still didn’t work I was thinking in terms of the distinction between notation and playback as opposed to alternative notations for the same duration. Only on reading responses in the forum did I understand what it actually meant.

Via your response, I infer “notated duration” is a term of art in engraving, or at least a term you’ve adopted as standard in Dorico’s language? If so, perhaps a link to the relevant section of the manual where that term is referenced (or to the Force Duration section at the end of the page, as you suggest, though that’s quite subtle a way of indicating the connection) would help someone like me who was unfamiliar with it as that term of art and didn’t know that I needed to go define it. (Jargon which overlaps with intuitive but ultimately wrong readings like this is the hardest. :weary:)

My last note is: forcing duration solves part of the problem I had… but you can force duration all day long and if they don’t add up to something which can be notated as a single note head it still won’t do a thing. That was actually the part I got stuck on longest!

As Mark Twain (a fair writer in his own right) once said, “Nothing is foolproof…”

No matter how granular Lillie and company make the manual, some folks sometimes will encounter a situation that throws them a curve ball. That is why this forum, and the support those on the Dorico team give it, is a valuable resource.

Notated and duration are not terms of art, at least not in the music community; but I understand that one’s initial encounter with tremolos or other aspects of Dorico may cause each of us confusion in different places at different times.

As I said, I’ve already made a note to add this to my (very long) list of stuff to review.

Really appreciate it, and can only imagine how long that list is. I only elaborated at such length because I wanted to clarify how and why I bounced off the existing text, in hopes that it’s useful to you whenever you get to the bottom of that long list. (Okay: and to defend myself a little: I really, really did read it really carefully! :joy:) Thanks again!

This whole discussion brings “water to my mill”… When Dorico will allow to do multinote tremolos with two equivalent values, even if they are not spelled the same (one with ties, other without), this whole conundrum will disappear. Since Dorico is about semantics (which I truly appreciate and love) it should make sense.


I was going to say perhaps just adding something like “(with no ties)” on that page of the documentation would be enough clarification. But I much prefer Marc’s solution!