Monday, January 16, 2012

Hammered glissando for percussion

I was recently required to make a glissando for mallet percussion instruments that asked the performer to hammer all the way through rather than just slide the mallet across the bars. The standard way to indicate articulation in a glissando is to have headless stems with the desired rhythm. This was my first proposal, but it fails to fully capture the requirement:

Since it explicitly requires a rhythm, the performer would be likely to attempt to be precise in its execution. The desired outcome is to have an unmeasured flurry of hits all the way through the figure. My eventual solution was as follows:
The 32nd notes with extended beams suggest that the figure is unmeasured and very fast. The whole note defines the starting pitch and duration of the gliss. The text clearly states the requirement. Result: no confusion.

Update: John pointed out that having the mixed roman and italic text looks odd, especially following the line. I think that a better solution is to treat the text as a technique and have it all in horizontal roman type as follows:


John Blackburn said...

A nice, clear solution.

Is it standard to italicize "gliss." but not "hammered"? Rendered at an angle like that, the juxtaposition of the two looks a bit unexpected.

Matthew Maslanka said...

I actually went back and forth on that. Gliss is almost always italic and follows the line when it's by itself. "Hammered" is a technical direction and should be roman.

I think I'm talking myself into having "hammered gliss." aligned horizontally and all roman.

Good call! Thanks --

John Blackburn said...

Much nicer—and still quite clear! Thanks!