Thursday, 20 October 2016

2nd times, repeats etc


Something we all deal with in pipe band drumming is what I'm going to call "2nd times", where the melody varies the second time through a part and we as drummers need to follow suit. In traditional (your grandfathers) drum scoring tools you have to do this all yourself. Drum Score Editor has always been about being efficient from the moment you enter a note, to how you work with notes once they're there. You can get Drum Score Editor to do a lot of work for you if you work a certain way, this post is all about that for 2nd times.

You've still got the ultimate flexibility

Before we dive in let's not forget: you can do anything you like in Drum Score Editor, to manually set up different bar types, text, etc - there are no restrictions once you select Edit -> Bars. However we all want clean, easily understood music, and some conventions, or dare I say, shortcuts, we've taken as score authors in the past are, frankly difficult to sight readers and slow the learning process.

So I've put some productivity workflows in Drum Score Editor to help with 2nd times, however they are a point of view - remember you can always go and do what you like, the flexibility is there, but stick with me on this and life get's easier for everyone - you may disagree with my thinking here but please at least hear me out.

I dislike extra individual bars being jammed on a staff line and the words or lines added to say what to do. I think we've done that in the past because when we hand write scores it's a pain in the proverbials to have to go rewrite 3 identical bars so we scribble something in there. I'd rather see a complete new line drawn in and with software this is so much easier. It also helps maintain a clean, structured score where all the bar lines line up and it's easier to see the overall structure at a glance.

Let the robot do it's dance

Robots are programmed to behave in a certain way, and if the way you work matches up then the robot is adding value. Drum Score Editor is programmed to behave a certain way and I'd offer that to get the most out of it, both today and in the future (especially when playback comes in so it can understand the flow) if we work as described below, scoring life becomes easier for all!

Take a 2/4 marches where 2nd time happens a lot. When we generate the score, we put repeat bars at the beginning and end of each part, and often it's typically over 2 lines. I'd say write out your part for the first time through over those 2 lines. Then, if the melody changes in the 2nd 4 bars, you can put your cursor on the 2nd of those lines and use the Format -> Music -> Toggle 2nd Time Staff Line menu item. This triggers a workflow that automates the following:

  1. Insert new Staff Line below this one
  2. Copy and Paste all the contents of the first line to the new one
  3. Strip out any unison from any of the notes pasted (as this is 2nd time, we're all playing then)
  4. Switch the bar marker at the end of the new line, as there should be no repeat dots on the 2nd time
  5. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the 1st line to say "1st Time"
  6. Add a text tag to the bar marker at the beginning of the new line to say "2nd Time"



Easy right? All that work done for you. Now all you need to do is alter the musical content, all the structural work is automated. This is the biggest dance this robot does at the moment, and it only does it one way.

It's a toggle type action so if you want to undo a 2nd time, put the cursor on the original line and use the same menu item - it will remove the 2nd time line and put everything back as it should be. It can only do this if you don't modify the 1st and 2nd time text tags and the repeat bar markers.

If the melody, or your score changes for example in bar 3 of your 2/4 march, before going to a second time, you've actually got 5 bars out of 8 different for each time through so I'd say don't to a second time. Remove the repeat marker at the end of bar 8 and copy paste in another 2 staff lines so it's played straight through, the forte being the 2nd set of 8 bars. The robot doesn't know how to do this for you yet, but I've done that enough times by hand now to think there's value in developing an automated workflow to help with that.


There is a debate that the above part should be written as per the image below, i.e. bar lines don't change and anacrusis belongs only at the beginning of the whole part. Research under way! If I'm going to automate it, then we should automate it correctly!


Today though there is a Format -> Music -> Clone This Staff Line workflow which inserts a new staff line below the one the cursor is on, and copies and pastes the contents there. I used that, plus the insert new staff line and, with Edit -> Bars enabled, copied and pasted the whole line down so there are still efficient ways to do this if you know how!

Do anacrusis right, and avoid some 2nd times

The other thing to get correct is anacrusis and the last bar. This will help so much in avoiding messy situations, and all I'm saying is follow the written music standard. Many will argue standards are one thing and what we do in practical terms is another, and I'm OK with that, it's just a way of communicating to each other and so long as we all understand what's meant that's good enough. But if you communicate anacrusis, or pick-up notes, in a certain way it avoids a bunch of "2nd times".

The rules implemented in Drum Score Editor with respect to 2nd times and anacrusis is that the anacrusis notes are balanced in the last bar on the 2nd time through only. Not only is this the historical musical standard, it is the easiest way if perhaps your pick-up notes into the 2nd time through vary from the 1st time. In the example below, we also illustrate the 'roll to nowhere' tie, as it 1st time through the ending varies to a roll. Select the last note and hit the 'k' key.



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