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I have created this site in order to provide performers, listeners and composers with a description of a composer's experiences with the creative process. The posts will provide discussions of the inspirations, challenges, and successes of a composer from the inception of the piece to the culmination in performance. I will provide a link to where you can see and hear the works in progress. Comments and questions are always welcomed. They will not posted unless you grant me permission.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Preparing Score and Parts for Four Poems

During the past few days, I have been working on the tedious but necessary task of preparing the score and parts to my “Four Poems”. I take a lot of care in doing this as Robert McBride, my composition teacher at the University of Arizona, instilled in me a very practical sense. My goal is to have the score and parts error free. In addition, I am concerned with page turns and inserting appropriate cues. Fortunately, the Sibelius 5 software I use makes all this easier.

One of the big things I have learned is to not print the score until I have extracted and checked the parts. I often find little errors by looking at the parts that I don’t see when looking at the score. For those of you who might be interested in what goes into the final preparation of the score and parts, I have listed the steps below.

1) Decide who will perform using the score and who will have parts. In the case of “Four Poems”, I thought that both the vocalist and the pianist should have scores and the flutist and clarinet could play from parts. The score is 60 pages long so I will use plastic coil binding for ease in page turns. The parts will be printed on 11X17 paper and folded to produce a 12-page booklet. Time for page turns needs to be left on all odd number pages. Sibelius usually does this automatically but sometimes only gives a measure rest, which in my opinion is not enough.
2) I looked at the score to see if there are sections that are primarily in one key. I start out with a neutral key signature. Even though my music is tonal, it changes tonality and modality freely. The only movement that is sort of in one tonality is the third, but I decided to leave it in a neutral key to be consistent. Once I decided this, I used the Sibelius plug-in to add cautionary accidents.
3) The cautionary accidentals usually overlap some notes, so I select all and ask Sibelius to respace the music. This cleans up the score quickly and nicely.
4) I then play through the score looking for anything else that needs cleaning up. Sibelius enables one to grab hold of any symbol and move it.
5) Sibelius enables one to switch back and forth between the score and parts as the parts a created simultaneously. But the parts usually need more formatting than the score. First, I give the bottom of the page a little more space (.8 inches instead of .59) as the default setting usually cuts off some dynamics or expression marks.
6) The next thing I do is select all and respace the part as there is often overlap, even though I did this with the score.
7) I also move things like Rit. & accel. underneath the staff as Sibelius places it above, which is fine for the score, but not for instrumental parts. One can move things on the parts without affecting their placement in the score.
8) I carefully check the parts for notation accuracy and make sure page turns can be accomplished easily.
9) Sibelius has a new feature where one can add cues to the parts but they don’t appear in the score. I try to cue all entrances that follow meter or tempo change or occur after long rests. The goal is to make it easy for the musician to make his/her entrance.

Despite all this care, there usually are some things that slip by, but they usually are minimal.

Dr. B

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