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Consider this little passage on the orchestral bass drum (time is 4/4), where bars 62 and 63 are meant to be played identically:

Screenshot: Two Bass Drum bars with notes in Sibelius

I want to indicate clearly that the third note (second 8th) is meant to ring on through the last two beats of the bar. I can think of two ways to write this: using a tied note (bar 62), or using an LV tie[*] (bar 63).

My two-part question: A) Which is more appropriate to use here? B) Is there a rule, guideline or other way of determining when to use a tied note vs. when to use an LV tie?

(To clarify: The assumption here is that the next bar – such as bar 64 in the screencap above – has notes in it, as I know you do use LV ties to indicate an instrument should ring on across empty bars.)


[*] I’m not sure whether there’s a more proper name for it; I get the name from Sibelius, which calls it an “l.v.” tie (for “laissez vibrer”, or let ring).

  • I could be wrong , but I don't think I've ever come across a laissez vibrer tie in sheet music. First time I saw one was in the lilypond docs. Perhaps they are frequently used for some instruments/genres. – Bob says reinstate Monica Apr 16 '18 at 16:34
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They both equate to the same thing. Since there are more notes in bar 64, it might look better to use the first example.

If bar 64 were empty, then the second example would be appropriate if you didn't mind how long it rang on for. With or without the letters l.v., any musician would understand the tie to mean let ring.

  • Thanks for the reply. So basically, presuming the subsequent bar has notes, it’s up to the composer to decide whether they prefer one or the other, and whilst the first may look neater, there’s no hard rule about it? – Walter Apr 16 '18 at 0:28
  • Any musician would understand the tie? It would confuse the hell out of most learners. – Bob says reinstate Monica Apr 16 '18 at 16:32
  • It’s not the most obvious or common notation. I saw it in a score once and looked it up. It simply means to let an instrument (usually percussion or harp) resonate indefinitely, ignoring any silences that follow. – Walter Apr 16 '18 at 19:52
  • To Bob, that's why leaners have teachers. The teacher is a musician. The learner wants to 'become' a musician. – Jomiddnz Apr 17 '18 at 5:40
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    To Walter, it is pretty standard. It is common to see it for pizzicato double bass too. And no, there is no hard rule. As I said, in the end they equate to the same thing. – Jomiddnz Apr 17 '18 at 5:43
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Restating the answer of Jomiddnz:

Tie to a note if its precise endpoint matters -- if at a particular point the percussionist should dampen the drum head, the pianist should release the keys, etc.

Tie to a rest or write l.v. to explicitly indicate a fade-out without a discernible ending. The fondness of Debussy and Ravel for this may be how the French term came to dominance in the anglophone world.

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