I'm transcribing a bit of "Put On A Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie and I'm stuck. I've listened to it a hundred times, slowed it down to listen, isolated different parts of the audio spectrum, and everything I can think of. I've got a good bit of the song done but at around 1:04, this happens...

Just after the vocal starts, something in the strings section (probably violin) starts what is either a long glissando or a very fast slurred run that rises over an octave before it joins with the flutes. I need a second set of ears, preferably a string player or someone who's played this part. Is it a gliss or a notated run here?

Can anyone help me figure out what's going on here? Am I hearing correctly that it starts on C#4 and ends on B5?

PS - I looked in the piano score and it simply shows a whole note C# with no further indication. I don't have access to a full score.

  • 5
    Transcription questions are off topic. That said, if you can’t tell the difference, that means however you notate it should be performed so listeners can’t the tell the difference either. So notate it either way - or really whichever one is easier. You don’t have to reproduce the original score exactly, just the original sound Oct 31 '21 at 7:04
  • 1
    This question is not about transcribing a song, just identifying a particular technique. Reopen Oct 31 '21 at 16:58
  • 1
    I edited the title to make it more obvious this was about identifying what was going on, not transcription guidance.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Nov 1 '21 at 12:59
  • "I don't have access to a full score": there probably isn't one. The "piano/conductor" score is typically as close as you can get. You'd have to look at the violin parts to see precisely what's written.
    – phoog
    Nov 1 '21 at 15:20
  • @PiedPiper if you post this as an answer I'd accept it. Sounds accurate to me. Does it start with the highest note on middle c# or an octave higher?
    – nuggethead
    Nov 1 '21 at 16:41

The passage is a five-part chord glissando over two bars for the violins and the cellos. Amaj7 to G#9 and ending on F#7(6) in the third bar. The first violin notes are written as whole notes in the piano-vocal score (C# F# A#).


If you are writing for stringed instruments and specify a glissando, be aware that the player will perform this as a portamento, which means a smooth transition from the lower pitch to the higher, with every intervening tone being sounded. Walter Piston, in Orchestration, writes:

A true glissando is made with one finger, on one string, with legato bow, and when it is properly executed all intervening stages of pitch are sounded between the indicated limits.

Source: https://archive.org/stream/PistonWalterOrchestration1969/Piston%20Walter_Orchestration%20%281969%29_djvu.txt

In the case of your example, I hear two distinct glissandi, from C# to F# and finally from F# to A#. When notating your example, it's important to place the start and the end notes of the glissandi exactly on the beats that they occur. So the C# is a half note, followed by a whole note F# and a whole note A#.

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