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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: slurred eighth notes vs quarter note?

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fiddle cat - Posted - 10/29/2017:  20:57:57

Just looking at a piece of sheet music that shows the same note played as two slurred eighth notes, and then in the same measure or the next, it shows another note played as a quarter note. In musical notation, what's the difference? Why aren't the two slurred eighth notes (they are the same note) just written as a quarter note? The music is actually written in a mandolin book, but I don't see how that's relevant.

Cyndy - Posted - 10/29/2017:  21:41:28

Are the two eight notes on either side of a bar line? That would be a reason I’d write something that way.

DougD - Posted - 10/29/2017:  22:04:25

If two notes of the same pitch are connected by a curved line it should really be called a tie, not a slur. Here's a video that explains the differences between the two, and also why a tie might be used within a measure, although the reason seems somewhat mysterious.

I think we'd have to see your specific example to comment further.

tpquinn - Posted - 10/30/2017:  03:42:55

I've recently noticed the same thing in a piece I'm working on, Dill Pickle Rag from the Fiddler's Fakebook. The tie first pops up in the second measure with two Gs, but tied notes can be found throughout. I figured it had something to do with the flow of the music.

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 10/30/2017:  06:54:34

Hmmmm ..... I'm a poor reader that is working to change that. A single tone played a pair of slurred eighth notes ..... could the pair be played with a different emphasis on one note or the other ..leaning on the bow a bit ..... ba-da .... ? R/

Dick Hauser - Posted - 10/30/2017:  07:31:36

In my mind I can hear two consectutive 8th notes being slurred, and it sounds all right. They wouldn't sound like a quarter note. For certain phrases it would provide a certain "feel". Played correctly, a slur sounds different because the pitch of the note changes. I wouldn't be surprised to find something like that, especially in ragtime or blues. If I get time to play some fiddle today,
I am going to give that a try. I try to practice guitar, fiddle, and banjo so time can be a problem.

fiddle cat - Posted - 10/30/2017:  08:01:12

Thanks for these responses. Yes, Doug, your video helps me realize the proper term for what I'm looking at is a tie, not a slur. The note (a high G) is merely repeated -- the pitch doesn't change. And it is all in the same bar, Cyndy. I wish my digital skills were enough to quickly show you the passage, but not so! (E eighth note, G eighth note tied to another G eighth note, E eighth note, G quarter note, E eighth note, F eighth note). It is in 4/4 time in the key of C and all in the same measure, so none of the exceptions mentioned in the video apply. Of course, this is all further muddled by the fact the music appears in a mandolin instruction book, and while one might slide up or down to a note, it is hard to imagine the second tied eighth note sounding much different from the second HALF of a quarter note on a fretted and picked instrument! Oh well -- should be working on my ear-training anyway. Thanks for enlightening me on the mysteries of "writing" music.

abinigia - Posted - 10/30/2017:  08:20:10

Generally this has to do with what's called "beaming". Notes are shown in a measure in such a way that the beats aren't obscured. The first beat obviously always shows in a measure. The other important beat to show is the 3rd beat of the measure. Eighth notes may be tied so the beat can be seen.

Beats 2 and 4, at least in my opinion, aren't as important to show.

BanjoBrad - Posted - 10/30/2017:  10:49:09

If this is what your music looks like, it is just so you don't play the 2 tied 8th notes separately.

fiddle cat - Posted - 10/30/2017:  12:36:06

Yep, that's exactly what I'm looking at, BanjoBrad. (Your digital skills are impressive to an old dog!) I was wondering why the two tied eighth notes weren't just written as is the G quarter note later in the measure. And I think Abinigia has just answered my question! I think the video re: slurs/ties mentioned "beaming" but I wasn't familiar with the notion and, hence, it didn't mean anything to me. Thanks for the musical education, everyone.

boxbow - Posted - 10/30/2017:  14:13:37

The other use for this is on songs, where the lyrics may have one syllable in one verse on that quarter note and two syllables in another verse on that quarter note. I remember this from hymnals and I've seen it elsewhere as well.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 10/30/2017:  15:21:02

O.K. so it is a "tie". But I tried using consecutive slurred 8th notes in "Stone's Rag" / "Lone Star Rag". and it sounded fine.

ChickenMan - Posted - 10/30/2017:  16:17:51

It may be for ease of reading the rhythm, and most likely to force a particular bowing as Brad pointed out.

DougD - Posted - 10/30/2017:  16:53:48

Pat is right that it has to do with the flow of the music, and Brian is correct that it has to do with the way notes are "beamed" to make that flow clearer. "Beams" are when the stems of the notes are tied together to make a "beam." You don't want to break the beaming scheme. The separations between the beams are like "second layer" bar lines (because they separate the beats within the measure) and should be kept clear.

In your piece, as notated by Brad the eighth notes are beamed in pairs, and a note spanning two groups should not disrupt them. In "Dill Pickles" the notes are grouped in four sixteenths, and the longer notes (which are syncopations) should respect that.

In a 6/8 jig, the eighth notes are normally beamed in two groups of three - the underlying pulse is in "two." In this little imaginary jig, you can see a note with the value of two eighth notes represented both ways.

Edited by - DougD on 10/30/2017 17:00:38

DougD - Posted - 10/30/2017:  16:58:16

I give up - this version of the site software is even worse than it used to be.

Maybe the jig will be attached.

Edited by - DougD on 10/30/2017 17:01:46

tpquinn - Posted - 10/30/2017:  18:20:27

It's beginning to make sense! And is syncopation what gives a rag the "swingy feel"? Not sure how else to describe it.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 11/02/2017:  15:00:38

I've often played two notes like that with a 'pulse' with which I use just one bow stroke and make the two similar notes distinctive.. ..or not..

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