Traditional lyric beaming possible?


Thanks! I now can accept the instrumental beaming on vocal parts.
Honestly, I also do not like this tradition. > :wink:


[quote=pianoleo post_id=837320 time=1551532273 user_id=77194]
There is indeed!

Actually, not a mistake (deliberate or otherwise). As Gould says on p. 435, the tradition is/was to beam across syllables within a beat. The second syllable in ‘rising’ goes across a beat boundary, so is not given its own beam. I don’t know whether this makes the convention more logical or less; I do know that, as a choral singer (who can sight-read rhythms!), I loathe this convention.


If that interpretation the correct, it explains why the F and G on “-ing” are not beamed together.

But it doesn’t explain why the D and F, which have two different syllables, are beamed together.


My question to k_b is to estimate the trend, because I am a bit curious if this trend could be

  1. worldwide or not,
  2. popular-music-wide or not

In this thread, I feel that the new beaming is preferred by English native speakers mostly, but it is just feeling without accurate analysis and statistics.

From my perspective, South Korean music practice is influenced

  • in case of popular music: mainly from the U.S.A.
  • in case of classical and avant-garde contemporary music: mixed from U.S.A, Germany, France, U.K. and Italy.

I only see the traditional way of beaming lyrics here. The reason might just be the kind of music I am involved in (baroque, classical, romantic). I don’t know anybody who has bought Goulds book over here, but I am quite sure all professional engravers will have one. I myself am just a practical musician, not an engraver, but do use notation
software as a daily tool.

I know that making the old, traditional approach available, as an option, is very low on the team’s current priority list, but once all the major stuff is accomplished, like customizable TAB, condensed scores with usable individual parts, localized documentation, etc., etc., are accomplished, I’d like to request that some manpower be devoted to addressing the beaming or non-beaming of individual syllables be addressed.

I’m old, 78, soon to be 79, so perhaps it’s just my age showing, but when I grew up singing in children’s choirs ALL vocal music was published the old way, and to me the modern ‘normal-for-instruments’ beaming of vocal music just looks ‘Wrong.’ The amount of work involved in converting a fairly long piece from the modern way to the old way, by breaking individual beams, is time prohibitive.


It’s the sort of thing that
a) should be possible scripting, once scripting’s been fully implemented
b) is substantially quicker to do manually if you assign shortcuts to Break Beam/Beam Together/Beam Separately (94 whatever they’re called). FWIW I have single-key shortcuts assigned for each of these, on my Logitech G13.

I think that localising documentation could be the last task. English is enough nowadays.
My English is not perfect, but I have experienced reading English text is more efficient in using software applications.
Please use the time of the team to develop the software…

I notice that the contemporary choir music our choir sings is formatted the new way and older choir music we use is formatted the traditional way. It’s an amateur choir and not surprisingly I’m the only one who has noticed or commented on the difference. I hadn’t really thought much about it until I was reminded here. I’m accompanying rather than singing so I suppose that’s why it was not bothering me.

Gould’s book is translated into German. The cover is red, instead. They even tried to translate the pun. I’ve held it just today, and yet the title eludes me at this hour of night. Hals über Kopf, vielleicht? I’ve also noticed that the Germans have one or two manuals on the matter – though nothing of the scope of Gould’s book. Although I am not a native, and that might naturally influence my opinion, I’d say that the Gould is very much consensual, though you’re always going to have to be attentive of the particular context, whose criteria may differ for one reason or other. Besides, I think it’s fairly clear Gould’s suggestion pertains to the present and the future; I’m not sure anyone would feel inclined to engrave older music with modern beaming.

Hals über Kopf, yes. See (with some reviews).

changing back to the traditional beaming is not time consuming. You just select the staff until the end of the flow and then completely un-beam. Then one can beam the few exceptions manually. It doesn’t take much time at all.

The ONLY reason for beaming to lyrics is immediately obvious when looking at old scores and, especially, manuscripts. In those scores, (which also had beats not vertically aligned and a myriad of other anomalies to the modern eye,) it was practically impossible to see which syllables belonged to which notes without beaming to lyrics. In modern editions, whether printed traditionally or when using computer software, syllables are [almost] always so placed that there can be no question as to what belongs where. Forcing singers to think purely in terms of notes and syllables instead of beats and rhythmic subdivisions is perhaps not so much a problem if the singers, as they generally could in the past, also played an instrument and were used to thinking rhythmically. In much of my experience with singers, all this usually leads to nowadays is a general inability of singers to feel the music the way all other musicians do. As do many other contributors on this forum, I hope fervently that this tradition goes the way of the dinosaur.

yesterday a (very experienced) cellist told me that he - when accompaning singers in recitatives- he prefers the old way, where the basso continuo notes (like semibreves) are in the middle of the bars giving you the freedom to catch and support the singer on wherever it suits the best in the performance. Having said this, this artist is a real expert in accompaning baroque music.

Accompanying recitatives in baroque music is quite an art and I agree with the cellist’s desire for the ‘freedom to catch and support the singer’ and sure, recitatives should be sung more or less freely. Still composers did write note values for a reason and a lot of singers have a habit of ignoring them, a situation which might be helped, especially in passages of eighths and sixteenths, if every single note didn’t look so similar with its separate flag and almost equal horizontal spacing.

I listened to an interview with N. Harnoncourt on his first Salzburg Mozarteum Conservatory lectures (in the 1950s?) on the way of treating recitatives in 17th and 18th century music. All singing professors and students came to his first lecture, where he told them, which books and sources to get from the library to get the relevant information from. From the second lecture onwards the singing students did not turn up again - as their professors had forbidden them to take part in further lectures. They would rather stick to their traditional way… (in German)

Indeed! Another recitative-related story. I bought the Groves Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians when it came out (in 1980) in paperback at an affordable price. The article in that version about recitatives is guilty of a blatant misquote which may perhaps have been partially responsible for the way in which many keyboard players play secco recitatives nowadays. They quote C.P.E. Bach as having said that in these recits one should strike the chord and then raise the hand and rest until the next chord is reached. This has been taken out of a different context. What C.P.E. Bach actually said was that in accompanied recitatives, the tuning of the organ will probably not mix well with the tuning of the held chords in the strings and/or winds, so one should raise the right hand after playing the chord so as not to interfere with the tuning of the ensemble. He says nothing in this regard about secco recitatives, yet it has become the tradition to play these recitatives as though the keyboard had the temperature of a hot potato. Very sad.

Vaughan, thank you for this insight, great information.
There were fantastic artist always, and it is quite a hybris to think we do things better in our modern times.

Indeed. I’m absolutely loathe to read old-style scores. It makes deciphering the rhythms so much more difficult. Unnecessarily so. Modern editions are eminently readable to the benefit of the listener in most cases. Rhythms are more clear, text setting is not obscured at all (esp. when slurs are indicated) and it’s easier to match your part to the other music around it. I’ve read 16th notes strung through a 9/8 bar in the old style before. By the time you get to beats 6/7/8 in a bar, heaven help you if you get off! :angry: :laughing:

Dear Romanos, Vaughan, et al–

I don’t think anyone has suggested in this thread that Dorico use traditional lyric beaming by default. Nor is anyone suggesting that singers be forced to read the old-style layout when they don’t want to. All I’ve suggested is that it be possible to have Dorico use the old-style as an ‘automatic’ ALTERNATIVE, rather than having to change it manually after the fact. No matter how much you loathe the old style, I don’t see how there can be any objection to having it AVAILABLE as a supported approach if the engraver so chooses.


It’s required for part replacement work.