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Different ways to use string markings on a score

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Dec 21, 2016.


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  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Am finishing up my score edition of the Bach suite 1 Prelude for pizzicato bassists, and have created 3 versions of the score:
    - a "naked" score for players who prefer to write in their own markings
    - an articulated score showing left hand articulations used in the arrangement
    - a fingered score showing the fingerings used in the video performance

    So far so good, and everything has gone smoothly. The last layer of the fingered score also needs to show string markings for passages that go outside of the usual paradigm of "play everything in half/first position and then climb up the G string". My question has to do with attempting to find out what the "standard" way to indicate string fingerings is. I've seen roman numerals I-IV to show G-E, but have also seen regular numbers in circles (1-4 for G-E) over the fingerings, and also string names in circles over the fingerings. There may also be others that I am missing.

    So, is there a standard or preferred way to go about this? The first movement I published online, the Gigue, stayed within the paradigm mentioned above, so i didn't have to decide on this at that point. But since I plan to complete a complete edition of the first suite in the next year or so, I thought I would ask those who play primarily orchestral music for a weigh in. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    When I was studying with Tim Pitts he marked the string name and the finger number (ie. D1) for what ever note on the D string, for instance, that he wanted me to play with with my first finger and that's how I mark them to this day.
     
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  3. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Here's an example from Sevcik Op.3. Roman numeral for string number (Cello not bass)
    DSC_0003.JPG
     
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  4. Finaks

    Finaks

    Jun 22, 2015
    I think this works just fine!
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Ausberto Acevedo Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    chicago
    Yep Roman numerals for string. Arabic for finger numbers.
     
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  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I was curious because using Sibelius, there is a built-in shape for string numbers that I think looks really clear - arabic numbers in a circle that can go over the top of the regular fingering numbers. I'll post a measure of screen shot from the Sibelius score. Let me know what you think:

    Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 9.53.56 PM.

    I've tried several different ways, and this one seems clearest to my intuitive eyes. Is it too atypical or weird?
     
  7. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I'm no expert but I do ascribe to a rule of nomenclature that is obvious to the majority of current and future players. To that end, I have to wonder why anyone would recommend Roman Numerals because for nearly everyone, in every nation, they require a mental translation.
    That said, there is also a "minimal" expectation of musical education. Meaning: if I write, on a jazz chart, Dwithaslashedzero I meant Dm7b5 and not Ddimished.
    On the charts that I make, I'm tending much more to C^, D-, and Galt than specifying note and extension choices, because... I want to specify the form, but not dictate it.
     
  8. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Ausberto Acevedo Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    chicago
    I say so because of the method books that I have come across in study such as Simandl, Bille, and Nanny tend to use this system in addition to my studies with major orchestra players. In addition, other string methods including popper, sevcik, and galamaian also use it. Another convention I've seen a lot of uses Roman numerals as a way to indicate position. I don't think it the most intuitive just the most pervasive I've seen. YMMV.
     
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  9. Dbass926

    Dbass926

    Jun 20, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Working with Hal Robinson on a variety of projects, we've decided that there's no standard way of notating many of the aspects of bass-specific notation. The most important solution to this is to pick one way of expressing each aspect and stick to it. We chose to use string names underneath the relevant note when that information was not obvious, sometimes using a line in Sibelius to indicate that one should continue on that string for longer.

    Why stick with the old ways if there's this much debate over them? Write to your audience, they'll appreciate it.
    Looking forward to seeing the edition!
     
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  10. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    No that is not weird at all. I compose a lot of music and do it like that also. That's the standard way for guitar and I apply that for (double) bass as well. The other examples in this topic seem out dated and old fashioned. I think the way you do it is the best and most logical. Unfortunately for bass and double bass there are no standards for this. Everyone is doing what they think is the best. Would be good to have some standard like on (classical) guitar.

    Same goes for position numbers and use of 'bass 8va'/treble/tenor clef. It's too confusing if everyone is using a different system. On other instruments there seems to be more consensus on these notation problems.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
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  11. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Using Arabic numerals for both string and fingering seems more confusing for me. I write notes in student's parts using Roman for string, but I suppose using capital letters also works. Roman numerals for string # seems most traditional and familiar for me. There is maybe a "mental translation", but it's only IV symbols to remember, so I don't think it's that hard to learn:laugh:

    BTW, why do we number our strings from high to low? That's unadulterated cultural treble bias right there!
     
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  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It's probably because I came through classical guitar that this sort of notation makes sense to me. I've seen a lot of different ways of doing this, but one thing I never cared for was when the fingerings were up top and the string designation was down beneath the staff - I like all the information in the same visual field. Thanks everyone, I'll plug those in and see what the finished result looks like!
     
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  13. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Roman numbers are used for positions. It's too confusing if you also use that for string numbers. That's why Arabic numbers with a circle are used for strings. The circle is to not confuse the string numbers with fingerings. The numbering from high to low string is because the highest is number 1. If you are number 1 you are the highest just like in sports. Makes perfect sense to me. The guitar system is very logical and the best (for me). I would love to see that as a standard for bass notation as well. Why confuse it and have every publisher/arranger/composer do it different?

    Let's change the old fashioned Simandl etc. notation habits now (including the illogical position numbering system)! I think it is out dated and it is time for a revision. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  14. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Well, then you're saying that violins are the best, violas second best, etc. I've always felt that the lowest note is the most important. Maybe you should switch to flute if you think the highest note is superior. I bet it's been suggested a thousand times by strangers on the subway, right?
     
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  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Finally got the score finished, and it's available Here. I think the string markings look pretty clear, but would welcome any feedback!
     
    Tom Lane likes this.
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Looks good Chris. Thanks for sharing!
     
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