Author Topic: proper notation  (Read 2620 times)

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proper notation
« on: April 17, 2011, 08:32:55 AM »
It's amazing how much detail is involved in getting "proper notation" down on paper.

What I find even more amazing is just how different your score ends up looking when that attention to detail is applied.

I've always been a stickler for detail, although not always having the proper tools, notation was the one area they just don't teach you at school.

Years ago, I got a good half dozen books on engraving. I learned a HUGE amount. I still have a ton to learn. Mostly it involves having all of those engraving rules sink in and become second nature.

One of my most recent purchases in the engraving department, however, is written in a far more concise and "searchable" fashion.

So I spend my days going over details and details of my most recent compositions.

Since I have a concert of my Clarinet Sonata coming up in the Spring, I cleaned that one up as much as possible. What surprises me most about how applying proper engraving principles affects a score, is just how DIFFERENT the score looks. It seems like it's always all very minor detail you're spending time fixing, and you think to yourself "no one could possibly notice this". And yet, at the end of the day, once the work is done... your score just doesn't LOOK the same anymore.

Minor things like changing the size of a text font, or whether it's bold, italic or roman, placed slightly BEFORE a note or perfectly beneath it. I can only say that I am overjoyed at the appearance of the scores I've worked on recently. I'm sure I'll continue to find minor errors in them, and I'm sure some with better eyes will see things that could still be improved - or even more errors I didn't catch.  But in the end, my Clarinet Sonata looks MAH-VELOUS! (look up Billy Crystal's "Fernando" for a reference on how to pronounce that).
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"


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Re: proper notation
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2011, 01:13:55 PM »
Notation "etiquette" and instrumentation knowledge for it are hard things to develop with consistency without some general guidance and references. For that I have three great sources that I recommend to all serious "engravers":

"The Art of Music Engraving & Processing" by Ted Ross (1987-2001)
"Essential Dictionary of Music Notation" by Tom Gerou and Lida Lusk (1996)
"Handbook of Instrumentation" by Andrew Stiller (1994-2000)


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Re: proper notation
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 08:19:14 PM »
I spent years studying the art of music copying and made some pocket money by working for several composers extracting parts from their scores by hand and then later with early computer tools.

The amount of knowledge needed to do this is phenomenal in today's terms of instant input and playback, but the principles of layout, preparation, symbol placement and consistency of look still abide.

I started with Clinton Roemer's The Art Of Music Copying. I then read Anthony Donato, Preparing Music Manuscript on preparing parts for performance and several others including Alan Boustead, Writing Down Music, Gardner Read, Music Notation: a Manual of Modern Practice. Add to that the standard texts in Orchestration and Arranging Adler, Read, Piston, Jacobs, Nestico, Mancini, Sebesky, Riddle, Kennan, Berlioz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Forsyth, Blatter etc

I still study orchestration and arranging simply to keep abreast of new ideas in notational practice.