Notation and Supplement Conventions
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289 NOTATION A N D SU PPLEM ENT CON V ENTIONS attles (a rapid succession of short and harsh- or hollow-sounding notes) and other quickly iterated decorations are audible at their original speed, but I measure the number of iterations in the sonogram window and not by ear. I take advantage of the playback feature in my music notation software, reconfirming each phrase as I go in matters of pitch, rhythm, and metronome marking. For accidentals, I use only sharp signs (never flats). When I encounter a microtonal phrase, I place half-sharp accidentals above the notehead as needed. An already sharp note will be three-quarters sharp with the addition of a half-sharp sign, and even within the measure, the half-sharp sign applies only to that note unless tied. I designate an unusual sound or timbre with alphabet letters over the notehead, like R for a rattle, QR for a quasi rattle whose iterations fail to completely separate, and CH for a chip sound. If a note is noisy, thus lacking a clear pitch focus, I pick the closest apparent pitch (or pitches) and form the notehead(s) with an X, while I represent broad-spectrum notes that are less noisy with adjacent noteheads. In notating a portamento, I draw a line between the beginning and end notes to connect them. If to my ear either end dominates, I use a normal notehead to indicate that end, while a grace note serves for the other end oftheportamento.Idonotknowifthesteepnessorspeedofaportamento is more significant for the bird than the pitch. The speed is usually swift and even, and I make no attempt to measure that aspect. R 290 Notation and Supplement Conventions I set each phrase into one bar; thin double bar lines mark out phrases and indicate a momentary stop in singing. (I do not notate interphrase silence with rest signs—these silences are measured in my supplement.) I adjust time signatures on a measure-by-measure basis to allow all notes to fit, but for ease of visual inspection I then hide the time signature and anyresidualrestsatthemeasure’send.(Allhiddentimesignaturesassume that a quarter note receives one beat in multiples like 2 4, 3 4, 4 4, 5 4, etc., rather than6 8andthelike.)Iattempttouseonemetronomicmarkingthroughout an entire song unless this makes the notation prohibitively complex. I treat virtually imperceptible variations of the same phrase as repetitions ; it is difficult to do otherwise, since environmental conditions, a microphone or bird’s (often changing) position, and discrepancies in recording technique from multiple recordists and a range of equipment (dating back to 1968) almost certainly introduce more variation into recordings than exists among the phrases as delivered. I also avoid indicating dynamics, which are subjective assessments under the best of conditions . Similarly, I limit articulations like an accent or staccato mark (the lattercanbesuggestedbyarhythmofshortduration)tothemostextreme instances. For legibility, all transcriptions are written an octave below the pitch they were delivered on (as indicated by the treble clef with the 8 affixed above it). In the supplemental summary sheet, for each song I tally the number of rattle types and rattle units, the rattle pulse rate, and average rattle frequency ; the starting pitch of the species call-in-song; the lowest and highest frequencies in the song; the longest note in the song; whether there is a sense of a tonic or a major or minor key; whether the phrases fit twelvetoneequal -temperedreasonablywellornot;whetherthemajorityofnotes are pure whistles or more broad spectrum sounds; the widest ascending and descending interval; the number of portamento types; the presence or absence of various timbral effects, a motif with repeated notes of the same pitch, a major or minor arpeggio, a double note, ostinato, transposition , and ascending or descending octaves; the total number of phrases; the average phrase duration and interphrase interval; and the number of main phrase types (if the song can be usefully understood in that way). I also log whether I have the entire song and the number of singers present. ...

Subject Headings

  • Birdsongs -- Australia.
  • Butcherbirds -- Behavior -- Australia.
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