percussion rolls and ties and articulations and the like

I’m having a bit of a conundrum about how to enter a percussion marking. I had been hoping it would be one of the improvements in 1.2.10 (an absolutely phenomenal “maintenance” update, btw), but alas, it was not to be.

Pic attached for the marking. I know the topic has come up before in a few different threads, but reading through, it seems that at the moment, the current method for inputting such a marking is “with some difficulty and/or tedium” or using slurs instead of tying, which can introduce its own tedious adjustments (and also, they just don’t look the same). I guess I’m just wondering if indeed this is still the case and also if there are any plans to implement a better way in the near future (or rather in the next version, which I know is slated to be released later in the year, or perhaps an upcoming one soon after that).

For percussion, the convention is that a stroke that ends a roll is tied to that roll, but notated without the tremolo marking. For that part, the solution is to simply switch to engrave mode and toggle the single stem tremolo property. Not ideal if you have lots of them, but perfectly doable. (Also of note, this breaks the playback, as removing the tremolo from the second notehead seems to remove the tremolo property from the note group entity entirely for playback. There is a fix, but it’s something of a workaround, and can take a bit to set up in your percussion maps and percussion playing techniques pages). One last thing to note is that depending on the meter and the note values, you may need to use Force Duration to keep the tie from consolidating the two notes into one.

Aaaanyways, the problem now is getting accents to show on both noteheads. As far as I know, while you can tell Dorico to put an articulation on either the first or last note in a tie chain, there’s no way to tell it to do both. I think this means the accent has to go in as text, which is, again, doable, but not ideal at all if you have lots of them, given the way Dorico spaces text versus articulations.

So, unless I’m mistaken, the marking I’ve attached, and others like it, are only possible by tying while forcing duration, switching modes, selecting just the second notehead and adjusting its tremolo property, switching modes again, adding a dummy articulation as text, switching modes again to make sure it’s spaced right, and finally making sure that it hasn’t respaced the system or staves in any undesired way.

Given how common of a marking this is and that it is standard practice, it would really be lovely if a fix made it into the next version (I mean, honestly, I could use it now, but I know y’all have dozens of features about which users have likely said the same). If you’d like my (unsolicited :smiley: ) opinion, the issue is that ties in Dorico behave the same way for percussion that they do for all other instruments, but they really shouldn’t. Dorico’s underlying behavior of combining tied notes into one entity works because on any other instrument that is truly what’s happening in the performed music (and it’s honestly quite lovely that Dorico does it this way). For percussion though, a tie really acts almost like a slur, but looks like a tie, and it might be worth considering having Dorico’s underlying logic deal with them similarly.

Thoughts, comments, disagreements, etc.?
roll tie accent.JPG

Wouldn’t it be simpler for the time being to use a slur instead of tied notes? Then you don’t have to force duration, the tremolo can be added to the first notehead without switching to engrave mode, and both notehead could have its own accent.

I seem to remember that there was a method using tie+forced-durations to get stresses within ties in 1.0. Was that eliminated, or am I remembering wrong?

I agree with your statements. As a percussionist, and someone who does percussion music notation primarily, this is something I am working to make understand better.

However, I will say that I do believe the slur for right now, is the best alternative to the options you have listed. I wish I could draw the slur in the same direction as the tie would go (up), but have the slur connect the note heads, as opposed to the stems. The slur, in my opinion, is the best option for the time being, and it doesn’t look wrong. It might not look as good as a tie would, but it doesn’t look wrong.

Also, there are a few exceptions to the tie in percussion music. Drums, and other instruments that roll, the tie does behave differently than other instruments. But for a few of the percussion instruments rolling is considered mostly in poor taste (such as Glockenspeil/Orchestral Bells), and here is a place where the tie should be a tie like it is to any other instrument.

Just my thoughts…


I think András’s answer is right on the money, since I’m not sure that such a note really qualifies as tied anyway: it is entirely made up of new attacks, and starts and ends with an accent. I think it makes perfect sense for that to be slurred, and not tied.

On the one hand, I’m inclined to agree with you, Daniel, and in fact, I do agree that such a note shouldn’t really qualify as tied and that it makes more sense as a slur. On the other hand, the convention is that it is a tie, not a slur (and as with many other conventions in music, the convention may be counter-intuitive or even incorrect if applied to other contexts, but that’s just the way it is). My percussion colleagues tell me that you could ask 100 percussionists and they’d all tell you the same thing, and the repertoire would bear this out (I would normally reference Gould for something like this, but, surprisingly, she’s silent on the issue and doesn’t even have any notated examples where rolls with a finishing stroke occur. I also checked the other two vaguely related texts I had at arm’s reach, Adler’s orchestration book and Reginald Smith Brindle’s Contemporary Percussion, and while both have notated examples, neither specify explicitly what notation is used.). Nonetheless, it is the convention, and though a player will almost certainly not fuss if you use a slur, for engraving purposes, a tie is the correct notation. (If you still need convincing though, I’ll happily dig around deeper for an authoritative source on the matter (at some point in the near future, at least; alas, I’m currently under the gun to finish a large piece in the next several weeks))

I imagine it’s something akin to how slurs function differently for a singer vs. a string player vs. a wind player vs. a piano player, etc. Ties simply have an additional function for percussion (and yes, thank you, Robby, for mentioning percussion with sustain; I do realize that they also use ties like everyone else, so in some instruments like vibraphone, you’ll often see both uses, but I figured I’d rambled on long enough to warrant not mentioning it).

I totally appreciate, though, if, in the long term, you’re opposed to altering how ties work under the hood in Dorico (it really is quite elegant and useful, and I’m sure it would be something of a hassle for something so seemingly trivial). That said, perhaps you’d consider adding an option in the properties panel for a slur to draw it and space it like a tie (and any other considerations necessary to have the software treat it graphically identically to a tie). I imagine this might be an attractive way to kill a number of birds with one stone, as playback would work correctly, durations wouldn’t need to be forced, etc. At the moment, making Dorico’s slurs look like ties is mostly possible, but tedious enough that it’s not any more an attractive method for me than the other way.

Just my four cents (adjusted for inflation) :wink:

I like your idea of having options to make the slurs look like ties. I think it would accomplish the best of both worlds.


I just ran into this situation myself and found this thread. I’m wondering what the most common way of dealing with it is. Do you replace just the last tie in the tie chain with a slur so you can add the accent to the last note, or do you replace the entire tie chain with slurs so that they all look consistent (all slurs instead of several ties and one slur)?

Provided you want the articulation to appear on either the first or last note in the tie chain, and not on one of the notes in the middle of the tie chain, then there’s no need to fake anything: there is control on the Articulations page of Engraving Options for whether articulations come at the start or end of tie chains, and there is also per note control in the Properties panel.

Thanks, Daniel. In this case, an accent is needed on both the first and the last note in the tie chain – an option that’s currently not available. That’s why I’m curious how most folks handle this situation – either with a single slur at the end of the tie chain, or all slurs and no ties at all.

I slur all the way through, to look consistent.

The more I work with Dorico doing percussion stuff, the more I think that technically the slur is the most accurate (in the sense of music notation). I think percussionists have gotten use to seeing ties for centuries.

And as someone on one of these threads stated… how do we really know that the original use to the tie wasn’t really a slur, but we just couldn’t tell the difference?


Sounds very logical, Robby. I think I’ll go the slur route myself. Ties and slurs look slightly different, but you’re right – when a tie chain is make up entirely of slurs, you really can’t tell the difference.

Well, I changed my mind. Changing to slurs is a hassle, because the presence of stem slashes (for a snare drum roll) causes the slurs to attach to the top of the stem above the slashes rather than on the notehead where a tie would be. You can go into Engrave mode and move the slur handles to where a tie would be but if you have a whole lot of these to do it’s way too time consuming. I think the best solution is to add a “First and Last Note” option to the “Position in tie chain” property for articulations of force.

That sounds good as well. Especially if you have already done a lot of work. I prefer the slur to go under, so note head to note head. I know this might not work exactly if you have other voices. But here is what I usually do now:

Slur or tie, it all will mean the same when it comes to sustaining a percussion instrument (rolls).


I decided to create an accent mark Playing Technique in the playing technique common area, and so what I do now is tie all the notes together, put a regular accent at the start of the tie chain, and then add the Playing Technique accent to the end of the tie chain. Works great and it doesn’t take too much time. I do have to tweak the location of the Playing Technique accent position a little (start offset y = -1/4) to make it line up with other regular accents, but that’s it.

Brilliant idea!!!