5

I have the following sheet music:

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As you can see, almost every single note is dotted and/or tied. Actually, no: Every single note is dotted or tied. I don't have any formal composition training, and I'm mostly just working with MuseScore as an enthusiast/beginner, but I feel like this isn't right from a theory point of view. I think I need to change something with the time signature in order to get it to sound right without all the dots, but I'm not certain.

If I just remove the dots and keep the base notes the same, it doesn't sound right, as the relative duration of each note ends up being different, I believe. Is there something else that can be done? I don't like all these dots. Is there something else I'm doing wrong?

If someone would also like to go into the theory behind why I'm doing things wrong, and why the right way works, I would be very grateful, as well.

Thank you very much for your time.

10

Here's your original line, almost exactly as you wrote it:

X:1
M:9/8
K:C 
V:V1 clef=bass
L:3/8
C, G,,2 | C,/2A,,/2 G,,2 | C, G,,2 | A,,/2C,/2 A,,/2(G,,/2 G,,) ||

Note that the last tied note is held for 2 1/4 quarter notes (3/16 + 3/8 = 9/16 = 2 1/4 quarter notes), which makes it exactly the same as your original line. But it's fairly evident in this form that this is exactly equivalent to

X:1
M:3/4
K:C 
V:V1 clef=bass
L:1/4
C, G,,2 | C,/2A,,/2 G,,2 | C, G,,2 | A,,/2C,/2 A,,/2(G,,/2 G,,) ||

If you really wanted to stick with 9/8 time (for example, if there was going to be a figure with a lot of triplet figures in the right hand), you could also write this using duplets as

X:1
M:9/8
K:C 
V:V1 clef=bass
L:1/8
C,3 G,,6 | (2C,A,, G,,6 | C,3 G,,6 | (2A,,C, (2A,,(G,, G,,3) ||
  • I can't say I've seen the duplet marking used much in such a situation but depending on how the rest of the song is shaping up, being in 3/4 may be the way to go. If the other parts have consistent triplets/3 subdivisions, then 9/8 is probably a better choice. In such a situation, I might replace the duplet markings with eighths and tied sixteenths. – Basstickler Nov 27 '17 at 18:13
  • 1
    @Basstickler Even when triplets are nearly ubiquitous, it's not uncommon to just write in a simple (duplet) meter and use triplet markings; for instance: everynote.com/goods.pic/Men_Song_Op53_2.gif – Kyle Strand Nov 27 '17 at 19:41
  • 1
    @KyleStrand - Yeah, I've seen that a good bit too. Definitely nothing wrong with it but I generally think it's a strange convention if it's for the whole song, as that would indicate to me that it's in a compound meter. – Basstickler Nov 27 '17 at 20:08
  • @Basstickler Right, but note that in that example, the melody is in duplets throughout, which is why Mendelssohn chose 3/4. If you really do switch between fully-duplet and fully-triplet rhythms, I'd recommend just changing your time signature each time (this is also common in the literature). – Kyle Strand Nov 27 '17 at 20:13
  • Good point! I didn't really look that closely, as I was just looking for the tuplet markings. – Basstickler Nov 27 '17 at 20:16
3

Measure one is fine for 9/8. Measure two stinks, and so does measure 4. They make it rather likely that you aren't really working with 9/8 but with 6/8 or 3/4. Leave off all the dots, everywhere. Then the last tied note has a total length of 3/8 which you can either keep as-is or write as an eighth (completing the preceding now undotted eighth) tied to a quarter.

Whatever you do, that last 9/16 you have there is written completely against the beat. In 9/8 meter you cannot ever write a half: instead you'd have to write a dotted eighth tied to a dotted quarter in order to match the accents of an 9/8 beat. But again: I don't think that's what you actually have here.

Usually when rewriting 9/8 to 6/8 or 3/4, you have at least some trioles as a result. Not even having a single one is a dead giveaway that your chosen meter does not really match your music.

1

You may have heard of or come across 6/8 time. Two counts of 3 quavers (eighths ) per bar. This is also compound time, with a three count of 3 quavers per bar. Sort of 'one-trip-let, two-trip-let. three-trip-let', making the 9 of the time sig. E.g. for bar one, you'd count 1&& for the 1st note, then 2&&3&& for the second.

By counting in that way, it'll make more sense. At least, the first 3 bars. The fourth isn't written particularly well, as each 'group of three' ought to be seen as separate entities, to be theoretically easier to read. It needs some ties instead of that minim (1/2 note), although it does all add up.

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