[MEI-L] graceful beams

Byrd, Donald A. donbyrd at indiana.edu
Sun Apr 14 00:23:39 CEST 2013

An interesting discussion! Thomas commented on "the very rare or even 
non-existing case of grace-notes that are under the same beam with 
normal notes". Perry and Craig both responded that grace notes should 
never be beamed with regular notes, but I disagree; "very rare" is 
correct. There are two issues here.

(1) What's the definition of _grace note_? Of course, grace notes are 
normally small notes with a logical (metric) duration of zero; but both 
the third and 4th editions of the Harvard Dictionary of Music say large 
groups of grace notes _can_ take a duration (of a single note), for 
example in Chopin. And I've seen several examples of full-size and 
small notes with logical duration beamed together.

(2) But even with the strict zero-duration definition, there _are_ 
cases where (IMHO) it's clearly proper to beam grace notes and regular 
notes. Here's the evidence.

First, I know of published examples in Chopin (Nocturne, Op. 15 no. 2, 
mm. 8 & 9); Debussy (Preludes, Book 1: La Puerta del Vino and La 
Terrasse Des Audiences Du Clair De Lune); and Ives ("Lincoln, the Great 
Commoner", no. 11 in 114 Songs). The Chopin is attached (see the last 
two measures). As you see, in each measure, there's an ordinary 
notehead with a stem and beam to an ordinary note, and a stem and beam 
to one or more zero-duration grace notes.

Also, Elaine Gould's _Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music 
Notation_ says (p. 129) of grace notes "If accents are not appropriate, 
differentiate notes to be sounded on the beat either by writing them in 
rhythm or, alternatively, by joining them to a measured note." For the 
latter case, she gives an example essentially identical to the Chopin 
Nocturne example.

And finally, in cases like this, it makes sense!

FWIW, considering both the graphical and the logical aspects, 
Nightingale distinguishes three types of notes:
* normal notes: notes with nonzero logical duration for the part they 
appear in, either full-size or small
* grace notes: small notes with zero logical duration
* cue notes: small notes with nonzero logical duration for a different part


On Fri, 12 Apr 2013 08:18:23 -0700, Craig Sapp <craigsapp at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Majohannes & JoMaja,
> I had Perry encode a similar example on page 3 of:
> http://wiki.ccarh.org/mediawiki/images/c/cb/30_short_mei_encoding_examples.pdf
> [image: Inline image 2]
> which was done
>    <beam>
>        <grace note 1>
>        <grace note 2>
>    </beam>
>   <beam>
>      <note 1>
>     <note 2>
>     <beam>
>         <grace note 3>
>         <grace note 4>
>     </beam>
>    <note 3>
> </beam>
> Grace notes should never be beamed with regular notes so the second
> graphical example you gave would be an incorrect rendering of this data.
> The beat span should not be necessary in this case.  Programmatically it
> takes work to determine if a beam is regular or grace: you must look inside
> the beam to see if the first note is regular or grace.  With a beam span,
> to determine if it is regular or grace type, you would have to look at the
> next note which follows it.
> Also here is the other example on the above link (page 3) with a similar
> case:
> [image: Inline image 3]
> which is encoded as:
> <beam>
>   <note 1>
>   <grace note 1>
>   <note 2>
>   <grace note 2>
>   <note 3>
>   <note 4>
> </beam>
> Note that the grace notes are not attached to the beam of the regular notes
> even though they are not in grace-note beams.
> The only two cases that I can think of for beam spanning would be across
> barlines and in some sort of string notation to alternate playing on two
> different strings:
> [image: Inline image 4]
> -=+Craig
> On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 3:21 AM, TW <zupftom at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Majohannes,
>> I think grace notes could still explicitly be made part of a beam using
>> the method you described above, using <beamSpan> and @plist.  (Or is this
>> now called @members?)
>>   I think being forced to resort to <beamSpan> is more than justified for
>> the very rare or even non-existing case of grace-notes that are under the
>> same beam with normal notes.
>> Thomas
>> 2013/4/12 Maja Hartwig <maja.hartwig at gmx.de>
>>>  Dear MEIers,
>>> while working on a revised version of the MusicXML to MEI stylesheets, we
>>> noticed a situation that is not absolutely clear in MEI, or that could be
>>> improved by better documentation. We have an MusicXML file that has beamed
>>> chords with a leading grace note each. Those grace notes are not part of
>>> the beam (look at colored sample). While the old converter produces a
>>> single <beam> element which holds all chords, but also the grace notes
>>> (beginning with the second). This results in the rendition you see in the
>>> black&white sample.
>>> <grace1/>
>>> <beam>
>>>         <chord/>
>>>         <grace2/>
>>>         <chord/>
>>>         ...
>>> </beam>
>>> Of course MEI allows to avoid the beam element and use a beamSpan, which
>>> connects all chords to a beam from an external point, leaving out the grace
>>> notes. However, this markup seems slightly more complicated.
>>> <grace1/>
>>> <chord1/>
>>> <grace2/>
>>> <chord2/>
>>> <grace3/>
>>> <chord3/>
>>> ...
>>> <beamSpan members="chord1 chord2 chord3"/>
>>> (everything above is pseudo code, MEI is not working exactly like this)
>>> While we could simply stick with the beamSpan solution, I wonder if there
>>> is such thing as a grace note being member of a regular beam at all? Of
>>> course grace notes may be beamed, but only amongst their kind, correct? If
>>> this would be the case, we could simply define in the guidelines that grace
>>> notes do not attach to a beam drawn by a parent beam element. However, this
>>> solution would mean that there wouldn't be a way to attach it to that beam
>>> unless we come up with a new solution for that issue. What do you think?
>>> Have you ever seen a grace note attached to a regular beam? Do you expect
>>> that there is one out there? Don?
>>> Best,
>>> Johannes
>>> (having captured Maja's machine...)

Donald Byrd
Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellow
Adjunct Associate Professor of Informatics
Visiting Scientist, Research Technologies
Indiana University Bloomington
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