Fade away to nothing / fade in from nothing, dynamic marking.

• May 28, 2024 - 11:05

I was just wondering if Musescore 4 had the function to add the dynamic marking : fade in from nothing / fade away to nothing ( the hairpin cresc. or decresc. with a little 'o' on the end). If there is not this featureas of current, is there any chance in the near future that it will be added as it would be very useful for myself, and i imagine many others.


Yup! It's available.

20240528 095026-niente.png

Enter your hairpin. Click it to select. Go to the Properties tab (upper left). You'll find a checkbox to toggle the "Niente Circle" on or off. By default, obviously, off.

It does not appear to affect playback. If you want it to playback actually "from nothing" or "to nothing", I suspect you'll have to do something along the lines of including a pppppp at the appropriate end and making it invisible.

In reply to by mike.beaken@gm…

For any dynamic level (MuseScore 4.2.1 has p and f to pppppp and ffffff available by default), click on the note where you want the dynamic to begin. Go to the Palettes tab (upper left) and find the Dynamics palette. If its contents are not already displayed, click the little right-pointing arrow to pull open the palette.

If the dynamic you want is not shown on the palette immediately, click the More button at the bottom of the palette. You can simply click the dynamic from there or, if it's one that you expect to use often, you can move it to the main palette by dragging and dropping.

There are two ways to use the palette items (all palette items): 1) You can drag an item from the palette and drop it on the score, or 2) you can select the place you want the palette item to go and then simply click the item in the palette and it attaches to whatever you clicked on. I find that that latter is easier and more accurate.

In reply to by TheHutch

No, it's the "n" dynamic, that stands for niente. Select the hairpin under your bar, go to the Palettes tab, and click "n" under dynamics. This should actually affect playback, unlike the "niente circle".

However, it is very buggy, rarely plays back as intended!

On the other hand, the "ppppp" solution will not work if you have a repeated bar with a crescendo or decrescendo. It will go to "ppppp" during the repeat again.

In reply to by ..- ... . .-. …

Wouldn't you WANT it to go to nothing again during the repeat? Isn't that what repeats are about??? If you wanted it to be different on the repeats, you'd put one volume in the first volta and the niente hairpin in a second volta (or something equivalent for a niente crescendo hairpin).

I didn't know about the "n" dynamic. Never heard of it before; good to know. But if it's buggy, why not just use a hidden "**pppppp*" which quite reliably takes the volume down to ... isn't it velocity 10? Whatever it is, it's too soft for my ears to hear it.

In reply to by TheHutch

In many cases yes, in others, no. Imagine you need to gradually fade out a bar that is repeating for 5 times. But that's a good point you raised, and I think there should be a setting for it. One where the dynamics (especially crescendos and decrescendos) are considered for the whole range of the repetitions, the other where the dynamics are to be repeated. The "ppppp" solution works for the latter, but not the former. (In any case, the "n" problem is a bug, so even if a good workaround existed, it should still be mentioned.)

In reply to by ..- ... . .-. …

I may be misunderstanding you. Do you mean that you want to notate something that would be expressed in words as "fade gradually over 5 repeats to nothing" in this manner?

20240607 141344-niente 1.png

Strictly speaking, that would indicate: [first repeat] fade from fff to nothing; [second and subsequent repeats] fade from ... NOTHING to nothing (because when the 2nd time through comes around, the volume is already at nothing).

I would certainly guess that many-to-most musicians will interpret that the way you intend (if that is what you are talking about), but I would imagine some might well take the explicit meaning of that notation. I believe that the explicitly correct way of notating what (I believe!!!) you want would be as follows:

20240607 141444-niente 2.png

Or, in words, [first repeat] fade gradually from fff to about f, [second repeat] fade gradually from about f to about mp, [third repeat] fade gradually from about mp to about p, [fourth repeat] fade gradually from about p to about pp. Then on the separately-notated final "repeat" of measures A-C, fade gradually from about pp to nothing.

This notation expresses that effect explicitly and cannot be misinterpreted. And this is how MuS plays, using an explicit interpretation of the notation. (Except where it doesn't interpret it at all: e.g., not playing the niente crescendo/diminuendo from/to nothing.)

(I haven't tried using the n dynamic at all yet :-)

In reply to by TheHutch

"This notation expresses that effect explicitly and cannot be misinterpreted." - I'd beg to differ. There are lots of scores out there that use hairpins in a way that clearly means "whatever volume you're at, start loud and get soft", and they're only ever interpreted that way. I don't like it, but it's the reality...

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

Yes, that's the meaning I was giving the hairpins; that's what they mean. By using the dynamic levels, I was describing the outcome of each repeat, not implying that a hairpin means a specific dynamic level. Each time the repeated section hits the normal hairpin, it starts at the current volume and end up softer: exactly what both of us said. Once the repeated section is complete, the musician sees the niente hairpin and knows that this time, they are to start at the current volume (after five repeats it will be down to something on the order of pp) and end up silent.

You understood me perfectly and did not misinterpret it in the slightest. :-)

The point I was making was that you cannot get that effect by including the niente hairpin in the repeat (even though it's likely that most musicians would understand what that was intended to mean).

In reply to by TheHutch

But then that's not the interpretation I'd prefer to see which is "from the current dynamic, get softer", such that a repeated series of (dim.) hairpins with no other dynamics should mean each one decreases the dynamic even more, even within a repeat. Which is how MuseScore plays them when there's no repeats involved. So there's definitely more than one possible interpretation.

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

No, there's only that one. That is exactly what I have been describing. We are agreeing 100% on what this particular combination of symbols mean. And that is what MuS plays back when there is a repeat involved, as long as there is no specific dynamic indication included in the repeated section.

The only slight difference is that a niente hairpin (the one with the little circle at its pointy end) means dim. to silence. And that's a different symbol than a normal hairpin. And, sadly, MuS doesn't play it back correctly. You have to fiddle it to make it sound right.

In reply to by TheHutch

What? There's clearly two different interpretations for a dim. hairpin:
1. Reset back to the dynamic you were at before any previous hairpin, then get soft again
2. Stay at the dynamic you were at the end of the previous hairpin, then get softer still.

There is music out there where hairpins can have either meaning, even in the same piece (I have examples of both you really want).
The use of "repeat barlines" doesn't change this, though it does make interpretation #1 more likely.

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

Actually if you want to get technical, for 19th century music in particular there's a 3rd possible interpretation, which is just a general sense of "decreasing", which can imply not necessarily (just) a reduction in dynamics but a reduction in tempo, or expressiveness (e.g. vibrato). And correspondingly for a hairpin in the opposite direction: "increasing" - whether in sound, in tempo, in expressiveness etc.
It's not even entirely clear to what degree particular composers did expect this, but Brahms definitely appears to have been one who used hairpins with this meaning, and likely Chopin too.

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

In your first post, I have to disagree that your first interpretation of a hairpin is valid at all, at all. There is no sense of "resetting" the volume with a hairpin, whether repeated or not. In modern music it means exactly your second definition: "start from where the volume you were at before you reached the hairpin and increase/decrease volume by an amount appropriate to context" ... which is what I've been saying all along ... and what I thought you had been saying as well.

For example, if you had an increasing hairpin followed by a decreasing hairpin, would you expect to start back at the original volume when you reached the beginning of the second one? No, of course not. A repeat wouldn't change that; only an explicit dynamic marking would.

And that is how MuS interprets a hairpin, in or out of a repeat.

In your second post, the 19th century meaning was certainly so, but even there did not imply (so far as we know!) any sense of "resetting" at the beginning of a hairpin. Actually using this interpretation does require a bit of music history knowledge. You say (I don't know!) that Brahms and Chopin used hairpins like this. What about other composers of the era? (That's a rhetorical question. I'm not explicitly interested ... right now, anyway :-)

FYI: you can edit posts by clicking the three dots at the upper right and clicking Edit. Makes it easier to deal with replying.

In reply to by TheHutch

Lets not forget that scores that pre late 20th century where never intended to be played by computer. And in spite of historical correctness, music has always been subject to the interpretation of the performer. And rightly so. I dislike the way MuseScore interprets hairpins in general. The increase or decrease in volume is too late.

We often see a cresc hairpin followed by a decresc hairpin. What if I don't like the volume change. I much prefer to put dynamics at least at the end of hairpins. Real players don't need this. but MuseScore does. We can cite rules all day long but it kind of boils down to two things.

  1. We can and should mark what we think is needed. A real player may or may not agree. They get to do that.

  2. Computer playback needs all the help it can get.

I often have two scores for some pieces. One I would hand to real players. And one marked as needed to get the playback I want.

In reply to by bobjp

I wasn't talking about a piece being played by a computer (except for one sentence, I think). And I never said anything about a musician's interpretation. I was talking about what the composer intended.

That a hairpin, with no other context, specifically means "start from where you are and increase/decrease by an appropriate amount". That it does not mean "go back to some prior volume/tempo and increase/decrease from there".

I agree whole-heartedly that computers don't play hairpins well. That's not what this discussion has been about.

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

I think you might want to look at that again. *LOL*

The long one (fifth and sixth measures on page 136) is a hairpin. Notice how it changes from the already-set volume (mf, half a measure before the hairpin begins) to a new volume (f) in the next measure.

The short ones (first, third, and seventh measures on that same page) are not hairpins: they are accents. They are not changing the overall volume of the piece; they say that this note is to be hit hard. Through those measures, the overall volume is to be f.

Of much more value are the hairpins on the previous page. In the third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth measures on page 135, there are hairpins. On some, there is a dynamic level immediately before or after; on others, there is not.

Their meaning is clear. If there is a dynamic level noted (either at the beginning or the end) that is where the hairpin is intended to start or end. If there is not, the musician is intended to start from whatever level they were at when they reached the hairpin and increase/decrease from that level.

Notice that the only places where there is intended to be a "reset", it is explicitly indicated.

And this is what I've been talking about all along.

In reply to by TheHutch

Actually that's an interesting point, in that edition that IS how accents look. But in my mine that measure is definitely shown with hairpins that are very different to accents later in the piece.
FWIW I'm willing to accept that Sibelius did actually intend them to be accents and the publisher got it wrong (but why are they in between the staves, far from the noteheads?) but there are definitely other similar examples, I'll post when I find a good one.

In reply to by bobjp

The only thing I'm not sure of is whether the hairpins in the second measure are really supposed to start earlier (e.g. on the 2nd beat) than those in the first (where they look to start half way through the 2nd beat). Particularly because in the violas/cellos there are similar hairpins that appear to start/end in slightly different locations (but in those parts, it's the same between the two measures).
But either way, it's clear to me that both hairpins should start from the same dynamic.

In reply to by Dylan Nicholson1

Alright, here's one that's clear as day. There's no way the second hairpin means "start from f, swell, then drop back to f at the end of it". It clearly means "reset to whatever dynamic you were at before starting the first hairpin" (which is probably something like mp or mf, given two measures earlier it has p cresc.). And this sort of thing really isn't uncommon, even if it's arguably slightly imprecise notation.


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