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Notation question


NewImprov

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I'm charting out some of our tunes for our new bass player. Most of this stuff came out of band improvisations, and very little of it has been completely charted before, so some of it is kind of hard to notate.

 

I'm stuck on one problem right now. We have a tune that has unison lick in quarter note triplets every 8 bars, and on the last time through the part, the unison lick is only 5 quarter-note triplets long, the new downbeat is where the 6th triplet would land. What would the time signature of the bar of 5 triplets be? 3 2/3 over 4? Also, how do I make Logic notate this in a way that makes sense? (I know, I need a better notation program, but Logic's score window is what I got right now).

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Sound like a bar of 7/8 to me.

 

That sort of works, though a bar of 7/8 is actually 2/3 of an 1/8 note too long. But it kind of feels like, after dealing with 4/4 for most of a page, a bar of 7 with 5 quarter triplets seems more confusing than it needs to be. But I dunno what else would be easier to read. A bar of 5/4 at a tempo 4/3's faster?

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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I just did it this way in Sibelius and it's very easy to read.

Do not change the 4/4 meter.

Draw the 6 triplet quarter notes and remove the last one. That should create a quarter note rest which you can then hide. It's not orthodox notation but it is very easy to sight read.

 

You might put a warning message over the bar that says "SKIP" or something similar to alert the player that there is a deficit in the time...

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Provided you are giving the last quarter note triplet its full duration (it is not truncated), here is the logic I would follow.

 

First, the previous occurrences have been 4/4 msrs, but these could also be written as 12/8 msrs in which the notes are played on every 3rd pulse, as follows:

12 8 note triplets in a 4/4 msr.

= 6 quarter note triplets.

So that would be 12/8 time (i.e. in 12/8 you play beats 1 3 5 7 9 11)

 

So, then, to do 5 quarter note triplets and eliminating the sixth one, I'd think of it like this:

10/8 time gives you 5 quarter note triplets (i.e. you play 1 3 5 7 9). So could you notate this msr as 10/8 showing the quarter notes as tied eighths. To make reading easier, you could consistently notate the other msrs where this happens as 12/8 and show the eighth notes tied.

 

Whether 12/8 or 10/8, you also would need to put an equivalence over the msr of quarter = dotted quarter, I think.

 

That is going to look clutzy, though I think it is technically correct.

 

But it depends on if you want anyone to be able to decipher this w/out explanation. I think Jazz+'s description would be easier to read IF someone is there to teach the new player what you want.

 

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All good suggestions.

 

Something to consider: In simple transcriptions, the use of quarter note triplets are a fast (incorrect) way to notate a dotted 8th sequence (i.e. dotted 8th + dotted 8th + 8th). If this is what's actually heard, then the 7/8 measure theory would be the correct approach.

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Thanks for the suggestions! I think that what Jazz+ suggested is closest to what I wanted to convey, and it points out that I really need to pick up a "real" notation package like Sibelius or Finale.

 

What I did: leave the tune in 4/4, replace the last quarter triplet with a rest, then told the bass player to ignore the rest. By the 2nd time through the tune, he didn't need the score anyway.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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