/ unusual musical notation question

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pec on 15 Nov 2012

I've been attempting to play a piece of music which has note durations annotated in an unusual way I've not seen before,(its not avant garde so that doesn't explain it).
In several sections there are several bars which consist of these "odd" notes.
Its in 4/4 time but the bars contain 4 notes which have a stem and hollow noteheads like minims, which would make 8 beats. They are also grouped in pairs like 2 pairs of quavers, each pair joined by a beam, which would make 2 beats. I suppose splitting the difference sort of ends up with 4 beats in so far as a beam on a crotchet halves its value to a quaver so a beam on a minim would make it a crotchet if you follow my drift but why?

Recordings of it sound like 4 crotchets are being played but its a bit fast so not easy to be certain.
Any serious musicians able to explain this to me?
Yrmenlaf on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to pec:

I'd read that as a tremolo:


(there's a picture of what I think you're describing)

pec on 15 Nov 2012
In reply to Yrmenlaf: Thanks for going to the trouble of finding that. I'm not sure thats exactly what I'm describing though it could be!

Under the paragraph headed "Notation" it does show a pair of minims but they are joined by 3 beams rather than 1. That said, in the music I'm playing (or at least trying to play) the minims are a rapid succession of notes an octave apart so it could be tremolo.
r0x0r.wolfo - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to pec: Can you take a quick pick to jog the memory, sounds familar.
Durbs on 16 Nov 2012
What instrument is this on?

It can make a difference as to what is implied...
Yrmenlaf on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to pec:

I'd read that as "play the two notes, alternating, with each note being a quaver (one bar). Keep doing it for two beats (a minim)"

As others have said, context might make a difference. But that would be a "mainstream" reading.

Yrmenlaf on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Yrmenlaf:
> (In reply to pec)
> quaver (one bar).

(one bar joining the minim stems - semiquavers would be two bars and so on)

pec on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to pec: Thanks again for the responses. In answer to the posts above, its for the piano and you can see it on the bottom 2 lines here http://www.onlinesheetmusic.com/sonata-no-8-c-minor-op13-pathetique-piano-p332846.aspx
I think the rapid alternating between the notes makes sense now, listening to it again.
I should add, its really too hard for me but having got to grips with the easier 2nd movement I thought I'd give it a go since I had the score anyway and it still sounds good at about half its proper speed!
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 21 Nov 2012
In reply to pec:

It's musical shorthand. It can be written differently and usually you would see continue simile or sim. after bar 11. Continue playing the following bars as you do bar 11. It's definitely a tremolo passage with the left hand.
Mark Bull - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to pec:

See the second entry for "tremolo" here: http://www.dolmetsch.com/musicalsymbols.htm

I'm no pianist, but I'm impressed that you can play even part of this!

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