Swing playback - an alternative solution for long notes

In response to my first post at the weekend, pianoleo offered a solution: creating a new Playing Technique which can be attached to a note but hidden and set it to create either a staccato or staccatissimo. That solution works in as much as it provides a couple of different shortenings, but these are percentages and not exactly ideal.

If it were possible for Dorico to implement a new feature it would be better working on the principle of reducing a note’s duration by a certain amount (ticks, 480 per beat in Dorico’s internal clock) instead.

That led me to remember this:

The above is an excerpt from a trumpet part from the Nutcracker Suite. I created an edited and heavily annotated (yuk) edition of the suite for Pete Long to play with his London-based Echoes of Ellington orchestra in the same concert as his own jazz version of Holst’s The Planet (well worth a listen) two years ago.

Here you see a series of three-beat notes each of which is shortened a little for that percussive, detached style. A breath comma is used to indicate a small gap, and many big band musicians will understand that. It is far better than rewriting the music with shorter notes and quaver rests - that just serves to clutter the page and obscure the simplicity of the rhythm.

So, if Dorico could create a new sort of object that is attached to a note and displays a breath comma above the stave and after the notehead, and the automatic effect would be to reduce the duration of the note by a certain amount (which I would set to approximately one quaver’s worth) rather than a certain percentage, it would solve the issue of long notes. If the comma could be hidden at will I would be able to use that a lot of the time. If I needed to produce editions for people like Pete Long, I could simply unhide all the commas.

I would not wish to use a device like this to deal with short notes, though. There would be so many of them it would be a real pain. I would prefer the Playback Options settings I proposed in the earlier message.


Peanut Brittle Brigade, nice!

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On the surface, at least, it’s possible to create playback techniques with varying lenght (not just linking to the existing staccato or staccatissimo). Actually reading about it in these threads inspired me to try it out, but it turns out the the percentage setting is only correct for 8th notes. (and proportionally off for longer note values) Daniel responed that there proabably is a limitation of some sort involved and as of this writing I haven’t seen any further comments. I agree that a ticks setting would (also) be of value.

Talking of ticks, yes, some jazz charts employ ticks rather than commas.

Oh, and let’s not forget the style of notation which involves writing “-4” above the stave to indicate that the note is to come off on beat four, not the end of the bar.

-4 could, in some scores (film scores), indicate slowing the m.m. speed by 4 bpm.

I write a dotted half tied to an eighth. There’s usually no confusion about that.