Flat slurs

• Apr 12, 2015 - 20:14

F Request:
Slurs must have more than present 6 points to edit. They must have ability to be flat, when connecting long phrases or when the vertical space must be condensed. The vertical slurs are the standard of musical engraving. Finale and Sibelius still cannot have flat slurs, and this would be a wonderful feature.

For making a curve, not three but five editing points should be available.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

If you read my first post you will notice that I have said both six and three. Six in total, three for the curve. My post was not edited.

All slurs do not need to have equal number of handles. For appoggiaturas we do not need even three for the curve. For medium slurs three is enough, but it is absolutely not enough in other cases.

a) handles differ depending of the length; or
b) "enchanced slur" setting via inspector, for adding 7+1 or even better 9+1 handles.

Just curious, can you point to a source for the claim that slurs "must" be allowed to be made flat, or that this is a standard? I don't really see evidence of this personally, nor does the most authoritative reference available today (Elaine Gould's "Behind Bars") suggest this that I have seen. I'm not saying it's *wrong* to make that choice, but it seems rather idiosyncratic choice, not a standard I am aware of. Knowing whether there really does exist some sort of authoritative source saying this really 8should* be done would be a factor in prioritizing this. It may eventually be implemented anyhow even if it is totally non-standard, just because it does seem like a decent enough idea, but it's much more likely if it can be shown to truly be standard.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Marc Sabatella:
The book you have reference to is made in Sibelius, and Elaine Gould doesn't use anything else BEHIND the ability of Sibelius. Therefore Elaine Gould is not Elaine God, despite the quality of that book which I appreciate very much.

To point to a source for that claim I would suggest to check scores by Henle, Breitkopf & Härtel, Bärenreiter, UE, Peters and others. There are almost exclusively found flat slurs (flat lines in a slur shape - which cannot be produced by present notation software).

When talking about the flat slurs, many, many people actually never seen these, but with a sharp eye after some seconds you can notice these everywhere in a standard, handmade plate engraved scores.

So, my answer is: go to imslp.org and download any handmade score (=not computer engraved) and check carefully. Let me know if you haven't found any.

In reply to by edizioneo

Yes, I realize that Gould is but one opinion, and that tends to be heaviliy weighted toward Sibelius - although i suspect that has been a two-way street.

Anyhow, rather than me spending a lot of time looking for these, I'd appreciate specific pointers - a link to a specific score, with a specific page number to consult. Also, editions from the last century or so would carry more weight than 19th-century or earlier editions.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I will give you a simple example. You don't need a lot of time. It is really not a lot of time, just search any music at imslp.
I typed CHOPIN in the search-bar at imslp.org and found Ballades.
Let us examine Ballade no 1, all scores have at least one or more examples of the flat slur on page 1 (in case of introduction page, page 2)

Breitkopf und Härtel, [1878]

Bote & Bock, [1880]

C.F. Peters, [1879]

Schlesinger'sche Buch-und Musikhandlung, 1881. G. Schirmer, 1881.

G. Schirmer, 1894.

Salabert (Maurice Senart), 1929

Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, 1949
http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/73959 (page 2)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Here are extracts from the first example.
pic 2015-04-13 at 8.59.19 AM.jpg
pic 2015-04-13 at 8.59.31 AM.jpg
pic 2015-04-13 at 9.00.13 AM.jpg

As you, Marc Sabatella, like more 1900+ scores, let me show this:

Alban Berg, Lulu Suite
(on every page found, as quick as I have checked)

Alban Berg, Violin Concerto
(on every page found, as quick as I have checked)

Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
(on every page found, as quick as I have checked)

Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
(on every page found, as quick as I have checked)

I hope I have managed to enlighten that simple secret of the slurs.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I see that this has been raised before in 2014.

The following link shows extracts from the 1881 book on Strathspeys by James Scott Skinner which may be of interest. I can't say that I have seen the "arrow" or the "loop" but the "straight slur" is very common in the Strathspeys we play today.

I've attached a score that we are playing in our rally in April 2019 which shows the straight slurs.

In Musescore I have to make a slur in the usual way, double click on the slur and drag the middle handle to make the slur straight. This is a very tedious process. Would it be possible for "straight" to be an option in the inspector along with "dotted" and "dashed"?

Attachment Size
Strathspey.png 123.17 KB

In reply to by donald paton

The link doesn't seem to work. Can you explain more about the context? Is this a particular genre of music that uses this symbol? Is that example from a recognized published? Can you point to more information on the unique rules of notation employed in this context? A web search shows this as a particular type of dance, but all of the example music I saw uses normal slurs only. Is there reason it needs to use this non-standard method? And could you just use a line instead?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Here is the links again. Should be OK now.


Here is a video of a class on strathspey bowing using the same tune. Scottish and Irish fiddle music was traditionally played by ear and not from music although much of it was written down and published in collections. Nowadays it is normal to play it from music, although some societies still play by ear.


In answer to your question, traditional Scottish and Irish Fiddle music dates from the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 when bagpipes were banned. Fiddle music was used to imitated the pipes. Much of the music takes the form of dances such as jigs, reels, strathspeys, hornpipes and twosteps. There are also marches used by Highland regiments.

You will see that there is a distinct difference between a legato slur and the straight slur used in strathspeys although strathspeys often use normal slurs as well for variety.

I am definitely a beginner having taken up the fiddle on retirement in Dunoon in Scotland. For our rallies I can get the music in MusicXML format exported from Sibelius and I convert them to MuseScore so that I can get a rough idea of what they sound like. I say a rough idea because for example jigs are usually in 6/8 time where it might be written as six quavers in the bar but it is played jiggety jiggety with the accent on the first and third quaver. Scott Skinner's book shows the particular bowing techniques used in strathspeys and strathspeys are usually written with straight slurs with the occasional normal slur for variety.

In reply to by donald paton

Thanks for the link! Based on what I see there, I think what makes sense is to not try to use the slur for that at all, but instead, Add / Lines / Note Anchored Line. That way you don't get the bulge in the middle either, which the examples in your link do not have. You would just need to add a vertical offset to them.

I would support an "enhanced slur" option that would enable flat slurs. Look at the bass clef in bar 67 in the image at Formatting Large Bars/Measures . It would be pretty much impossible to make that work without the slur being shaped that way.

I would also wish for the slur to shape itself that way as soon as it was entered in MuseScore, rather than being blindly drawn in its default curve and going straight through the notes (tying in to my feature request for "Smart" positioning ). Perhaps these could be worked on (and, hopefully, implemented) at the same time.

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

I completely agree, ZackTheCardshark.

Marc Sabatella, I don't know how much flat do you need flat line for a slur to be flat. It is not a "personal" feeling but rather the fact.
If you can draw a straight line on a slur it means it is "flat", or lined.
I would say, they are partly flat, that is what I mean with my original suggestion. If a slur is totally flat than it is just a line. It must have curves on the end to be classified as a slur.

Look at these. All these I have pointed with the red line have flat shape, in more or less percentage of a total length of the slur.
I give here always the first page of a music as an example, so that I show that this is the standard in engraving, not needed to look at the thousand pages or music pieces to find one.


The flat slurs are one of the Universal Edition's standard engraving technique, and their engravers must accomplish this by any tool even doing it with Finale or Sibelius.

In reply to by edizioneo

This may be naive in the extreme, but, after playing around with this some, it seems to me that a slur that is flat in the center could be rendered if it were only possible to 'lock' the position of the center handle (i.e., the upper handle that controls the apex of the slur, not the lower one that raises or lowers the slur as a unit).

In reply to by Jm6stringer

But to get the middle of the slur that flat, the ends also have to be nearly in line. In "Flat slur.mscz", flip the stem direction of the first and last group of eighth notes. There is no way to get the slur to work without a large arch in the middle. There should be.

Here's the image from Formatting Large Bars/Measures :

flat slur example

Whether the slur in the bass clef is truly flat, or just very close to it, is irrelevant. The fact is that MuseScore can't reproduce it.

In reply to by edizioneo

Some of those are indeed truly flat. Others are still curved, just by an amount that is not as obvious (like, less than the thickness of the red line you are using to mark them up) :-) Anyhow, a mostly irrelevant distinction. Again, what's most useful at this point is to file an official feature request in the issue tracker - forum discussions tend to get lost over time.

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