Let's Talk About Skanks

Jul 13, 2018

So, soon I put out a first draft of a notation guide to start to walk through the MDL notation standard.

While some of what is presented in the MDL notation guide will be familiar if you have used VDL or other notation inspired by it. Some will be a bit different.

In creating the MDL standard, we looked at the VDL standard created by Jim Casella, Murray Gussek, and Hugh Smith... and actually had long conversations with the VDL creators to understand why they did some things in the way they did. One of the key influencing factors was the limitations of Sibelius at the time VDL was created.

Since the number of noteheads and articulations in Sibelius then were limited, they were forced to make some choices that were less than ideal.

With MDL and MuseScore 2.3, we did not have such limitations and were free to create. As a result, some of the types of notation you were used to using, that were awkwardly formed from limitations of Sibelius, have been replaced in MDL.

A few examples...

Crossovers on tenors. Some use a plus above the stem, which is actually commonly used for dampening, closing, or muffling.

Others use ( ) around a note, which is commonly used for ghost notes, particularly on drumset.

It is also common to see crossovers notated with a hollow diamond notehead, which completely breaks the format for note duration.

If you look in the MDL Workspace (make sure MDL is selected in bottom left) and open the MDL articulations palette you will see that there are actually 2 designations for crossovers - LOR (Left Over Right) and ROL (Right Over Left). This makes notation even more explicit or descriptive than any other option out there.

In case you are wondering, if there is an accented crossover, the crossover goes above the accent.

Back to skanks.  I've seen that some notate these with an elongated V, which is actually a symbol for an up bow marking for instruments like violins, cellos, etc.

When we look at the actual technique of a skank, it is a hit with a quick hand mute followed immediately after. A + symbol would not be entirely accurate, as it would imply that the note would be muted upon attack, not after.

So, what is a skank? It is a quickly shortened rim shot.

In thinking about this, we have suggested (and the logic in MDL 1.1 supports) the notation of a skank as creating a rim shot on the 4th drum and then applying a staccatissimo articulation. This emulates both physical action involved in playing and also the modification of the rim shot.

As we more forward in releasing the full notation, very interested to get your thoughts, ideas, feedback. We truly want to make this in the international standard.