Flute bending

• Oct 27, 2021 - 20:04

I need to add bending to a flute. I've noticed that MuseScore actually plays the bending, which is a very nice feature, but there are two problems. First, the articulation palette symbol contains the word "full", which isn't used, at least in the flute, and also has an arrow termination, which isn't used either, at least not always.
The second problem is that I don't seem to find the way to get the downward bending (the easiest and more frequently used one on the flute). All bendings are upward, even the custom ones. There isn't in the Bend type graph a "zero" level from which one could select points up and down. The "zero" is at the bottom and only points above can be selected.
I could remove the arrow selecting arrow width = 0 from the bend style page, but can't remove the word "full" (by the way, I don't get what it stands for).
And as a workaround for the playback one can lower the pitch of the note using the tuning feature so that it starts at the normal pitch (lower + raised by the bending).
But the notation problem persists.
See page 28 and 40 from
Elain Gould's book doesn't cover flute bending.
See also Robert Dick's "Tone Development through Extended Techniques" (http://robertdick.net/category/books/). Here he advocates for a minimalistic broken line (with straight segments) describing in an approximately analog way the pitch curvature. MuseScore's equivalent is a succession of curved segments (each of them with an exponential shape) , very tall and narrow if more than one or two segments are specified.


The marking you are adding is for guitar and the notation and playback is designed to reflect that - "full" and other markings refer to the number of steps/fret you are bending, and guitar can only bend up. So, this feature was never meant for other instruments and indeed,d published music for other instruments does not use those symbols. Instead, use the markings on the arpeggios & glissando palettes or other symbols as appropriate to the specific situation. These don't all currently playback, but if you need them to, go ahead and add the guitar symbol anyhow but make it invisible. Or just limit yourself to the ones that do play - the glissandi (set to "portamento" style in the Inspector).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks, I did that and it is an acceptable workaround. However, it would be nice to include, in the Articulation palette, a bending symbol that also plays for other instruments.
The guitar bending algorithm plays fine for winds, and even for the piano, in which no bending is physically possible (except while tuning or when playing on the strings). So I think it wouldn't be very hard to arrange things so that the bending symbol could also play downward doing automatically what I did manually.
The portamento requires and ending note and has a strange behavior, it seems to play a microtonal discrete scale instead of a continuous bending.

In reply to by fmiyara

The existing symbols should already be correct, but indeed, it will be good if playback is supported someday. I'm not aware of any new symbols that would need to be added, but if you have examples from published music, please share them.

For the gliss, not sure what you mean about discrete scale, should be using the same pitch bend approach as the guitar bend as far as I know. If you are hearing otherwise, attaching a score that exhibits the issue would be useful.

As for the need to add a second note, one approach that works well is to add an invisible grace note before or after the main note, and gliss to that. I use this approach in my MuseScore Café theme music:


In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There are many symbols that contemporary composers use, sometimes even scribbles to denote a dirty sound. However, most are quite personal and not nearly standard. Many authors include a reference page where all symbols are explained, Possibly there are still some symbols that are sometimes used with a fixed meaning and aren't still available in MuseScore, but it would be probably more interesting if at least a basic vectorial drawing tool were provided, including simple shapes as broken lines, circles, polygons, which could be combined by the user to get a symbol. I've read that Qt would allow this feature.
You can find some unconventional symbols or, rather, pictograms, in Chapter 19 of Elaine Gould's book, that could be easily included in a score if such tool were available without having to resort to an external program such as Inkscape. Currently that is partially possible but with bitmap images imported from a file, which look blurry when zoomed in.
I include a mscz file with two versions of the flute bending. One uses portamento and sounds grainy, the other uses detuning and bending and sounds very good.
By the way, your bending on the trumpet, sax and trombone sounds quite convincing and in style!

Attachment Size
Test_portamento_in_flute.mscz 5.03 KB

In reply to by fmiyara

Indeed, lots of non-standard symbols have been used. But the standard ones are in SMuFL already (the "S" of "SMuFL" is intended to ensure that) and hence in the Symbols palette, so at most, we'd maybe want to add a couple more of those to another palette. Playback would be pretty hard to define, though, since these generally don't have any one clear meaning the way the existing falls & doits do.

If there are any symbols you think are standard enough to be incportated into a program by default but aren't found in MuseScore, step one is to petition the SMuFL folks to include it, then we can start using it.

Meanwhile, you can import SVG's which should retain full resolution at any zoom level. But also, keep in mind that the algorithm used for drawing things on screen isn't exactly the same as what is used in printing or export. So just because a PNG might be rendered blurry on screen doesn't mean it would be problematic in the actual print or PDF. In practice, unless you capture your image at a size smaller than you intend to print it (which would be unwise), a 300 DPI PNG should be indistinguishable from an SVH, and realistically, most much print work is done at 180 DPI. So while SVG is certainly preferable - and it's directly supported by Inkscape - if the image you have is created freehand and then scanned and all you have is a PNG, it should be good enough for practical purposes.

And thanks for the comments on the music! I can hear the effect you mention in that particular example, stange I don't hear it in any other case. Maybe it's something noticeable mainly if you do the fall over only a half step, which is not something I would normally be doing. Anyhow, there are other glitches in the portamento sound that have been reported, but I don't think this one has. I'd recommend submitting it as a bug report.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc, I've analyzed your Café theme example more closely, and I find that the problem does exist. I've isolated one by one the trumpet, sax and trombone and played them alone. The quarter-tone scale is clearly audibly, especially if you turn the tempo down to 50%, for instance. Besides, a parasitic beep at the nominal pitch appears at the end. When you play it at a rather high tempo as the original one (MM 92) and the complex texture of the drum kit and piano, bass and guitar is enabled, those artifacts are dissimulated. The beep sounds as part of the percussion (until you isolate those instruments and listen to them... then you can't help hearing the beep) and the quarter-tone scale is so fast that it seems indeed a continuous portamento, that's why you didn't notice it.
But the flute (the instrument I was actually writing for) is an instrument for which the bending effect (an extended technique) is hardly larger than a whole tone, so the discrete nature of the portamento is quite noticeable as in the example I provided.
The "guitar bend", in contrast, is continuous and would be perfect if negative pitch deviations were allowed.
I've posted an issue reporting this.

In reply to by fmiyara

Understood. My guess is that the guitar uses the pitch bend wheel functionality of the synthesizer, which normally can only handle small increments, where the gliss uses the portamento facility, which is designed to cover larger ranges. Seems like the implementation of portamento in the fluidsynth we use is not optimal. Presumably it won't be an issue in MsueScore 4 - or will be replaced with brand new issues anyhow - since it seems like it will be a whole new playback engine.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You are probably right, since portamento rquires reset before next note, and that would explain the nominal pitch beep at the end of the note. Besides, if a second voice is added with intended constant pitch, the portamento is also applied to the second voice

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