Cross-rest beaming (feature suggestion)

• Sep 2, 2023 - 15:56

Dear all,

as suggested by a user, I propose you a new feature on the engraving side, for an automatic system for beaming the rests within a note group in different possible ways.

Lately I have been working with a lot of syncopations and off-beat figures, even with quite foreign time signatures. Therefore, to provide more clarity to the players, especially on the rhythmic structure of the measures, I used a lot of cross-rests beaming.
Right now, to extend beams across rests within a note group you have to select each rest and select the beaming style you want. In my case, this brings me quite some friction in the process, and I believe once fixing this many users might benefit from it.

Also, I have seen quite a lot cross-rests beaming in classical and folk literature, and for this reason I think this might help quite in general.

Practically, I propose to pair the current 'beam style' option with a new triple toggle switch, in case you want a specific cross-rest beaming style to become automatic.
I say triple, because the first option would be the current default one ("no cross-rests beaming"). Then, second would be a beaming style for only those rests lying between two notes in a group. Finally, the third option would be to cross-beam all the rests and notes lying within a beat, depending on how the time signature is set up (so, beaming also the rests in the beginning and in the end of the group).

I have also included three pictures, hoping they explain this better – in the third picture ("UI look") I have thought of a possible layout for this feature in the user interface, and for it I got inspiration from the "flag style" feature that already exists, and this is why I included it.
What do you think?


I second the suggestion, I think it would be a very important addition to MuseScore to keep up with more "modern" engraving practices.

Just an honest question here, I'm only a simple musician and I have never seen this type of notation.
I find it extremely confusing.
Is this really something more and more used in "modern" notation ?

In reply to by frfancha

Elaine Gould in 'Behind bars' (p 165) writes: "This notation is helpful for passages of complex rhythms, especially where rests occupy the start or finish of a subdivision of the beat, since the extended beams then identify the subdvisions." And on p 166: "Use extended beams only when it is essential to help the reader to identify the beats. Elsewhere use traditional beaming, since otherwise the extra notation makes straightforward rhythms look unnecessarily complicated."

In reply to by MichLeon

I would agree, however, at least for what I've seen, the scores using this kind of notation tend to use it quite as a default feature: if your score is so 'cursed' that the more traditional/normal passages become exceptions, I believe even those might benefit from it, both in visual coherence of the score (which I find important for the reading to be fluent) and in giving a clear visual reference of the rhythmic grid and how it varies overtime.

In reply to by MichLeon

Independently of Gould, I tend to beam when rests are "inside" the beat, surrounded by notes. I see no point in extending the beam for rests that are at the beginning or end of the group. See an example from a piece of mine from 25 years ago (engraved later with Lilypond), that I think I would write exactly the same way today.

But that's just me, it's very subjective what is "helpful" (or complicated) to whom.

Attachment Size
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In reply to by theloni0us

theloni0us yours is also a good point. However, because it seems to be very subjective, there are many composers (including me actually) who use this beaming also on the extremities of note groups.
But still, the feature I'm proposing is that of a triple switch, exactly because maybe one might want a style closer to yours, whilst someone else might prefer the 'extremities' beaming instead. And since this would be a new feature, why not create both options?

In reply to by MichLeon

MichLeon, yours looks to me like a good example, even if I wasn't thinking of putting stems on the rests, which I'm afraid would really be confusing since at first glance they might look more like noteheads. However, if you imagine a passage in which all of these four measures are put into sequence (so, continuously changing time signatures), I think it might help (me, at least) to have this style throughout.
On the reading side, it looks to me it's mostly a matter of getting used to it. But still, I believe it would be nice to give the option of whether to use it or not, but with a more fluent method than selecting each rest and changing the beaming option.

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