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Topic: Score interpretation Question

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  1. #1

    Score interpretation Question

    I'm in a dry patch, composing-wise, so just to keep my hand in I'm transcribing the overture to Mozart's Magic Flute into Noteworthy, and I have a question about tutti vs divisi. Take for example, the flute staff which has single notes and two-note chords, which are obviously divided among the players, and in some places notes are held for a longer duration while other shorter notes play, and those are clearly to be divided among the flutes. But in some cases there is only a single note on the staff. Some are clearly marked with stems going both up and down and are obviously meant to be played in unison by all (or both), but others do not have stems going both ways. Am I to assume that single-stem notes are taken only by the principal flute? Or are they conventionally played by both flutes as well?

    There is one place in the flutes where two whole notes sit side by side in the same measure, and I assume that also means both flutes in unison. Is that correct?

    Thanks for any insight.
    --gary shannon
    Spooks! - The Movie

  2. #2
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    Re: Score interpretation Question

    Quote Originally Posted by fiziwig
    But in some cases there is only a single note on the staff. Some are clearly marked with stems going both up and down and are obviously meant to be played in unison by all (or both), but others do not have stems going both ways. Am I to assume that single-stem notes are taken only by the principal flute? Or are they conventionally played by both flutes as well?
    It may well be that either a stem is missing from the score due to mis-print (or a bad scan) or just to an error by the engraver. It does depend on what has come before. I have taken this approach: If the note in question appears while the instruments are playing tutti, I will score it as such. If it occurs during a divisi section, I will see if there has been similar situations, and what the score has done there. In other words if previously the second instrument has rested then I would follow. If both instruments played, then I would follow that (I hope this makes sense). Failing that, I will make a judgement call based on what I think might sound right.

    More often than not, there is usually a notation somewhere that will indicate if one, the other or both are to play (1o, 2o, a2 etc)

    There is one place in the flutes where two whole notes sit side by side in the same measure, and I assume that also means both flutes in unison. Is that correct?
    Yup, you got it there
    Hope this helps.

    Cheers...

    Daz :0)

  3. #3

    Re: Score interpretation Question

    In classical scores, when two instruments share the same stave, usually both do the same notes, unless indicated otherwise, even if only one stem is indicated on those notes. If you look into the beginning of a score, you'll see that notes on shared staves only have one stem: that's because it is conventioned that both instruments do the same notes form start, even if there is no prior indication of 'tutti' or 'a2'.

    When a broken-chord (2 simultaneous notes) situation occurs, we have two choices: for wind sections, this obviously means divisi, even if there is no div. mark above the stave; for strings, however if this mark doesn't exist, it means that both a) and b) sections must do the 2 notes and not divide them. In a triad chord (3 sim. notes), winds maintain div. by 3, and strings must choose between div. (and do the chord correctly) or not div. (and do it 'arppegiato'), but in this last situation composers are rather precise in their intention and they clearly indicate div. when they want it.
    I mentioned chords because these normally appear only with one stem (either up or down), although they may be divided between two or more instruments.

    Different stems for simultaneous notes on a same stave only occur when the composer writes a 2-voice part for that stave's instruments. In this situation, a div. clearly happens (even without the corresponding div. mark), not mattering if it's winds, strings or others. In a 2-voice part, each voice follows independently, and so their rhythms may naturally differ, thus the need to use different stems for each voice (like in Bach's chorals). When this 2-voice part ends, and both instruments return to their previous unison situation, it is common for the composer to write both stems (up and down) per note-head for a bar or two, as an indication that both instruments rejoined, then writting only one stem per note-head, as a convention that they are now joined and in a 'tutti' situation.

    If the composer wishes that only one of the instruments perform from that point on, he must either: put bar rests in the voice he wishes to silence, or (more usually) put a '1st' mark (first leading instrument of the stave) or '2nd' mark (second leading instrument of the stave), indicating that only that instrument follows the line. In the latter situation, the composer must then put an 'a2' mark (both instruments perform), when he wants them to rejoin in 'tutti'.

    But don't forget one thing: the score you have is the conductor's point of view of the 'tutti' orchestra, because each instrumentist has its score part and he knows exactly what to do in each situation.

    Hope this helps! Best regards.

  4. #4

    Re: Score interpretation Question

    In best practice, the composer's intention should always be clear. If the intention is not clear, there is a problem with the score. There are standards and usual assumptions about part division that are typically made/followed, but it would be better to remove all doubt.

    If a part is marked a2, the flutes should remain playing in unison until indicated otherwise. If it later becomes only one flute, it should either be marked solo or should have the stems up with rests below. Another alternative would be to break it into two staves, but this is not typical of a Mozart score.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  5. #5

    Re: Score interpretation Question

    Thank you everyone for that information. On closer examination the Mozart score either marks a section "a2" (which is a mark I was unfamiliar with) OR places a rest under the notes that must be intended for solo flute.

    That clears up my confusion. Thanks again.
    --gary shannon
    Spooks! - The Movie

  6. #6

    Re: Score interpretation Question

    Fiz:

    In my experience, there are TWO ways of indicating WHO
    plays what notes in a score (conductor or parts, that is) where
    instruments are sharing the same stave:

    1. If you see a "1," "2," or "a2," it will direct players 1 and 2
    when to play. One (1) means the first player plays, and (2)
    means only the second player plays. the a2 means that BOTH
    players play until either a "1" or "2" appears again.

    2. The second method contains a lot of RESTS. Both parts,
    players 1 and 2, read their lines according to up or down stems.
    The first player has his stems up and the second reads the down
    stems. Up and down simultaneous stems are to be played by
    BOTH players. When this system is used, the player not playing
    will see his part written in rests.

    I like the first method because there is less density in the score.

    Jack
    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 2014.5, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.5, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

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