Multiple meaning of playing techniques


There are some playing techniques taking different meaning depending on the composer or the context. Take, for example, the tenuto sign (-). Sometimes, it means that the note is just a bit shorter than full duration. Some other that it is to be stressed, and last until the next note. Some other, a milder sforzato.

Expression maps can just assign one of these meanings. One can easily modify it for the specific piece, maybe changing the name to avoid overwriting the ‘master’ expression map.

However, maybe there is a way to assign multiple meaning to a playing technique in the end-conf/expression map combo, and choose the correct one for the context in the playback options and in the event properties.


You can specify different playback options overrides in different expression maps if need be, but for tenuto specifically I don’t believe Dorico produces a playing technique change for that articulation.

Daniel, Happy New Year!

I’m thinking to a solution that might be satisfactory for this type of techniques. Maybe they can be selectively turned on or off per-flow.

In the particular case of Tenuto, maybe the most ambiguous of musical symbols, it would be too bad if we can program two different “Tenuto” techniques (Tenuto-Stress, Tenuto-Length). It will appear in the same way in the score, but would select different playback techniques.


At a band clinic which I attended some years ago, Jerry Nowak (prolific American composer/arranger for jazz ensemble, concert band, and many others), used the mnemonic “Stress or Stretch” for the alternative meanings of the Tenuto mark " ". Determining the appropriate one would depend on when a piece was composed/arranged and by whom (Mozart or Nestico, for example), its idiom and style, plus a fair helping of musical common sense (and sensitivity).

That’s good if you are working on new scores, or in general on scores where you can use contemporary symbols. This is not possible when working on classics. In some works (take for example Ravel’s Pictures from an exhibition), Tenuto is interpreted in a different way in different numbers.

If making a modern edition of that score, it is unlikely that new symbols will be used (in particular, very idiomatic symbols not common to a wider audience).