That basically looks OK. However, there is some debate about whether 8vb is an appropriate indication on "engraved" music. Some sources say the more correct designation is 8va bassa (I suppose to clarify the composer's intent for those who have never seen 8vb).
It is very common to "after pedal" a given note, so moving the Ped. designation slightly to the right of the PP would be appropriate and help the music look a little less "stacked" .
However, my main concern would be that, since the cluster is stemmed together as a single unit, it is unclear whether you wish the entire cluster to be played an octave lower, or you intend the cluster to extend down an additional octave than what is written. My assumption would be the former, but I'm guessing you intend the latter.
The only thing I would change in your example is to put the dynamic marking above the staff; in other words, between the two staves of the piano part. This would be a more standard placement.
I have no problem with "8vb" personally. Some publishers prefer "8va bassa" but I find it too cumbersome. It comes down to personal preference here.
And I have to respectfully disagree with DarwinKopp on one thing, in that it looks to me like you intend the entire cluster to be played an octave lower. If they were normal notes with "8vb" written below, we would assume that the "8vb" applied to all the notes. I don't see why that rule wouldn't also apply to a cluster.
"It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
--Ray Luke (1928-2010)
Hi again Jon,
I'm glad to read that the entire structure is to be played down an octave, as I had indicated that is how I would have interpreted it, I just wasn't sure that's what you meant, which is why I asked.
Cluster notation is not very standardized, and any number of approaches, even homemade ones, can serve equally well.
However, cluster structures can be thought to have a notational hierarchy:
The most explicit method is to write out every note to be included, which is probably most useful for smaller things, usually less than an octave in span; otherwise, the structure is visually overwhelming and decidedly superfluous.
Your method is actually about as close to a standard as I have seen, and what you've done is exactly right...indicate the outer tones, and bar between them with a solid line (though the line is perhaps twice as thick as need be). You might also consider adding a sharp or natural above the structure if you want only white or black keys intervening. Having neither symbol sort of defaults to "all keys", black and white, are to be played.
A less exacting indication is simply a stemmed, closed bar (for quarter notes or less) or open bar (for half notes and greater) in the approximate range of the cluster, again with a sharp or natural above if the notes are to be only one or the other. (I prefer this method for large clusters.)
The least exacting approach is to indicate some sort of slash rhythm with the word "clusters" above (and maybe include a descriptor like "big", "medium", "tiny", etc, if that's what you want), and have the slash rhythm only generally indicate a high or low area or something in between. This final method give the most freedom to the performer as to the cluster's location and span, while still retaining most of the relevant compositional control, i.e. rhythm, dynamics, duration, etc. I think the case could be reasonably made that the actual pitches of a cluster, particularly a large one, are not all that important.
A few very quick questions for you, which may help you:
1. The 8vb (which does seem fine to me as an indication in notation), applies for the A or the G# as well? It is something that i would ask as a pianist. You need the whole cluster an octave lower, or only the bass note (thus extending the cluster a full octave down?) -> Ok, this's been answered previously...
2. Why not extend the 8vb sign with the dotted line throughout the length of the cluster? This is what confused me in 1. If I get an 8va sign with the dotted line for 3 bars, I transfer the whole 3 bars and the staff one octave higher. If I see 1 single 8va, I only transfer the 1 note it stands above. Not sure what is the 'officially' correct sign though.
3. This is the 1 staff only. If the other hand plays nothing (If I read you correctly, cause I'm in a hurry), then just put the dynamic between the two staves, maybe towards the left hand. If you have other things playing, I would either put different dynamics between the staves, towards each staff respectively, or, indeed, bellow, as it is now, but as close to the staff as possible; thus on the left of the cluster, to not get lots of space.
4. The cluster, btw, is chromatic? I usually place a small natural and a sharp above any cluster to indicate that I want a chromatic cluster (black and white keys). If I want only white, I put the natural, and if I want only black, well, I write the notes!
5. In such a low dynamic and wide cluster, is it that important to have the exact pitches on the top and bottom of the cluster? I know that it can be heard but maybe something more free... might work better and save you the 8vb sign alltogether. Just a small note, a black sign, something, to indicate you're going for a cluster and let the performer choose their way.
Some ideas perhaps?
Lots of good questions and ideas here. The only thing I would add is that I think dynamic markings are always a good candidate for moving to a less cluttered area. I would probably move the pp up and to the left, perhaps even place it directly to the left of the low A if that helped get rid of the ugly "expression stack."