A tremolo is notated with slash marks, right? What determines how many slash marks should be used? Please excuse my lack of knowledge . . .
The number of slashes tells the player how fast he/she should play the tremolo. 1 slash would indicate that repeated 8th notes should be performed, 2 slashes for 16th notes etc. Most common tremolo is played in 32nd notes, however I suppose if the tempo of the piece were quite slow, 64th notes would not be out of the question. I guess it can be disputed that 8th note tremolo is even tremolo at all.
Hope this helps,
p.s. An excellent book on music notation is by Gardner Read it is simply called “Music Notation.” I used it in music school so it’s probably in its 100th addition by now.
Thanks! The tempo is I'm using is 70 quarter notes per minute, so perhaps that is slow enough for 4 slashes?
Thanks for the book recommendation, my library seems to have it in, too! I'll take a look at it this morning. Only second edition, though . . . Of course, my university library likes to keep old falling apart books . . . and scores too. I once pulled out a Beethoven string quartet score and it started crumbling in my hand . . . I think the oldest book I've found was from 1860 . . . Well, I managed to go off topic enough . . .
Usually if you write in using 32nd notes (3 slashes) the string players will interpret it properly.
Three slashes is usually considered standard notation for tremolo no matter what the tempo is. In slow tempos, it can be helpful to write "trem." or "non trem." above the notes in question, to avoid any ambiguity.
"It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
--Ray Luke (1928-2010)
If it aint fast enough, give 'em three "lashes"!
Then there's composers like Brahms who give half the strings tremolos in triplets and half the strings without triplets...