Sideways downbow

How can I create a sideways downbow symbol?

A custom playing technique is probably your best bet - you can give it a popover entry that suits you as part of the process, for when using the Shift-P playing techniques popover.

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Thanks! I still don’t see how to rotate the downbow symbol, though.
My goal is notation to indicate scraping the bow towards the fingerboard or towards the bridge, instead of the normal upbow downbow path. Leftbow and rightbow, or tasto-bow and ponticello-bow.

Hi there

I’m afraid I don’t have a solution for rotating a symbol in Dorico, though it could be done by importing a graphic made elsewhere.

I wanted to give my initial reaction, as both a string player and editor, to your proposed notation for this technique.

I know it seems like a natural way to notate this, but a 90° rotation of down- and up-bow signs is not intuitive for players,. It won’t be straightforward to remember which sign means ‘towards the bridge’.

The two symbols are so closely associated with their bow directions that it will require mental effort for players to reject the normal meaning of each glyph.

When I’ve been involved in preparing music with this technique in the past, it’s either been unmeasured tremolo, which we described as ‘parallel with the string, moving between bridge and fingerboard’’, or ‘circular’ bowing at unmeasured speed, for which we used similar text instructions with a spiral-ish arrow.

If the instructions are very precise over different pitches/strings, you can show it graphically above the stave.

If you need to use two symbols, it would be better in my view to find other glyphs.

I imagine there are other possibilities that I haven’t encountered for this technique, too. Others may be able to post them. Anyway, now you know my views on the matter!


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Unless someone has used this technique before, I’m probably stuck with the sideways downbow. I haven’t found it in a notation manual or a score. I’ve been studying spectral music for the past year, and haven’t seen this technique so far. I don’t think Turtle Island uses it, either.

I’m a string player, and would never confuse a sideways downbow with a normal downbow symbol. A sideways upbow looks just like an accent, and I’ve never confuse the two. I’ll have to ask around and see if other string players share your confusion or are like me and would see the symbol as something unique and weird. I wouldn’t accidentally play a downbow if I saw a sideways downbow symbol, just like I wouldn’t accidentally play an upbow instead of an accent.

The unmeasured parallel bowing you described sounds like a similar technique, except I need precise rhythms - like a guiro. Doesn’t really matter which direction is which, as long as they alternate. I suppose in a section, if they wanted the look of moving together that would be an issue, but the sound is the same. Also, I’m writing chamber music, so don’t care about section bowing right now.

I’m open to suggestions for an alternate glyph for the technique! Perhaps “P” and “T” for pont and tasto in a unique font placed over the staff? I’m already using x noteheads for chops and slashes for fingerboard slaps.

Whichever symbol I use, I may have to import it into Dorico from another program. How do I do that?

Once you’ve created the glyph in an external program, create a custom playing technique and import the newly-created glyph.

Thanks for clarifying what you need this for.

Because the direction of the bow movement along the string (towards or away from the bridge) isn’t important, I am more convinced that the rotated down bow glyph isn’t the best choice.

It sounds as if there will be a passage or passages of some length using this technique, and the rhythm needs to be notated. It’s unclear what pitch information is required: I would expect that the string needs to be specified but I expect nothing more than that, as I don’t think changing which note is stopped on the string alters the sound.

Anyway, here’s some free advice from a professional music editor: use normal notation and add a text indicating the bow technique above, with a dashed or solid line with hook to show the extent.

Pitch the notes as open strings (assuming I am right about that), and include an instruction to damp the string with the left hand, if that is what you want.

Choose a sensible word or short phrase to indicate the technique, and if necessary provide a footnote at first occurrence to explain it. Thereafter use an abbreviation.

The phrase ‘scrape in rhythm up/down string with bow’, though rather long, covers the technique as you’ve described it. Thereafter ‘scrape’ or ‘scrape string’ might do.

Doing it this way makes it more readily understandable for the players, and saves you as engraver some time making the score and parts. I would not want you to fall into the trap of inventing a new notation when ‘old’ notation will serve: it would seem like a cutting-edge decoration added to the score, something which players usually see through.

I can’t stress enough that we should always use existing notational conventions wherever possible. Text above the staff for bow and other right-hand techniques is common, universally expected and understood, so I would do that.

Hope that’s useful.