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Topic: Checklist for Score Production

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  1. #1

    Checklist for Score Production

    EDIT: I ADDED A FEW THINGS BASED ON NIKOLAS AND TERRY'S SUGGESTIONS -- THEY ARE IN ITALICS

    I put together this list when I was in school, and I posted it on another composition group a few years ago. Thought I would share it here -- if anyone has anything to add, please do so.

    Basically I wanted to put together a definitive checklist of things to do in my final "engraving" of a score. I imagine that we've all had the experience of having to re-print an entire score multiple times because we forgot to do something simple like check for realistic page turns or include rehearsal letters. I've seen so many student reading sessions where the composer is embarrassed because he overlooked something crucial and his piece is unreadable. This list should be helpful as a reminder of all the details we need to include before a score is complete.


    Clerical
    • Obviously, check ranges, playability, proper transposition, etc.
    • Note Spelling (awkward lines, augmented 2nds, strange harmonies that could make more sense by re-spelling notes)
    • Proper beaming / rhythmic notation
    • Transposed or Concert Score? Is this specified clearly?
    • Any special transposition instructions the conductor will need to know? (8va piccolo / bass, clef discrepancies in bass clarinet / baritone, etc.)
    • All metric divisions clarified (for example, when 4/4 changes to 12/8, specify whether the 8th stays constant or quarter=dotted quarter)
    • Copyright information?
    Fundamental Performance Elements
    • Tempo Markings
    • Any special/descriptive performance instructions ("mysterious," etc.)
    • Dynamics
    • Articulations
    • Phrasing (slurs, breath marks, bowings, etc.)
    Highly Recommended
    • Courtesy Accidentals
    • Cue Notes, especially after long rests
    • If any instructions carry over a page turn or after a long rest, put a reminder in (parenthesis) on the next page.
    • Rehearsal Letters
    • Measure Numbers
    • Page Numbers
    • Practical Page Turns
    • Cover sheet with instrumentation, duration, percussion requirements
    • Percussion-only score(s) so that players can divide up the parts as they wish
    Easily overlooked
    • Does every divided string line indicate whether it is double-stop or divisi (a2, a3, etc.)?
    • Do shared parts indicate whether they are played by player 1, 2, or both (primo, secondo, a2)?
    • Does every "divisi" indicate when to return to "unison"
    • Does every "add mute" or have a "remove mute" later on?
    • Are there instructions for when percussion players should switch instruments?
    • Does every doubling instrument indicate when to return to the original (i.e. flute/piccolo)
    • Is the harp part playable? Is there notation (and time) to change tunings when required?
    • Is the timpani part playable? Is there notation (and time) to change notes when required?
    • In parts, are multimeasure rests broken to accomodate rehearsal letters, tempo changes, other important instructions?
    Anybody have something to add? It would be nice to compile a "definitive" checklist. Anybody have their own checklist like this?

    chris.
    Last edited by CallMeZoot; 10-17-2006 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Added to list 10/17

  2. #2

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    I'd have to say that "check ranges, playablilty" is so fundamental to the compositional process, that this shouldn't even be included in a checklist of score preparation. If you find range errors in your score, then it probably needs more work than a quick correction from a checklist can afford.

  3. #3

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    I agree, but I still think it's worth a quick double-check in the final process. I tend to write in C, and I've occasionally discovered that when I put a part into its proper transposition it results in awkward fingerings, unplayable trills, confusing enharmonics, or (*gulp*) a note or two out of range. This usually only requires a quick fix, but I'd rather catch it at the last minute than have a player butcher my piece because I wrote a finger-twister.

    By the way, this checklist isn't only intended as a "last-minute" check -- I use it throughout the composing process to make sure I'm not missing elements. I usually compose a piece fully in SONAR before I even begin to notate it. The "engraving" is not part of my compositional process--it is done after-the-fact, and is a long process in and of itself--so I find it useful to have some guidelines to keep myself on track.

    chris.

  4. #4

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    If you have two players sharing one stave in the score, every time there is only one line of melody it is essential to say "1." (primo), "2." (secondo) or "a 2" (both to play).

    Terry Dwyer

  5. #5

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Great list!

    Sometimes, no matter how experienced composer one is, it's easy to bypass something. In my case it's always been the "Score in C" note, which makes things REALLY complicated (or a phone call away anyhow ).

    I think I'll copoy paste your list and enlarge it to a full blown A3 page to have as a poster in my *studio*...

    EDIT: 1. when making the parts also, it's really important to check in transopsed instruments (at least) and make the same checklist. Simply automatically transposing the notes a 2nd up sometimes messes things up...

    2. Also, again on parts, if you have rehearsal letters, and it happens to be in the middle of a multibar rest, you must break the rest and note the rehearsal letter. Otherwise the person with the parts will get lost. (Example: 9 bars rest C 11 bars rest) (Does it make any sense ???)

    3. Harp issues. I won't be analysing the harp here, but it always needs extra care, if nothing else for the spelling. Also the pedal setting is something that most harpists I know do (in the begining of the page or even in every staff), so it's worth giving it to them from time to time...

  6. #6

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Yeah, transposing instruments can really cause problems, especially when extracting parts -- this is why I left "check ranges and playability" on the list even though it should "go without saying."

    I am a saxophone player, and sometimes when I'm composing at the piano or computer I'll write a part that seems perfectly playable, but then when I transpose or extract the part I realize that it would require superman pinkies! Or sometimes a carefully-thought-out spelling of a twisting chromatic figure turns out to use all double and triple sharps when it's transposed!

    Fortunately, I can usually change a note here and there at the last minute without any major qualms -- my music tends to be more about rhythm, texture, and gesture, so the specific pitches can often change without disrupting the intent of the piece.

    And making sure to clarify "Score in C" or "Transposed Score" is pretty crucial to conductors, especially with a-tonal, non-tonal, bi-tonal, ambiguously-tonal, etc. scores. If you're using functional harmony, it is less crucial because the key signatures will give the answer away.

    chris.

  7. #7

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolas
    2. Also, again on parts, if you have rehearsal letters, and it happens to be in the middle of a multibar rest, you must break the rest and note the rehearsal letter. Otherwise the person with the parts will get lost. (Example: 9 bars rest C 11 bars rest) (Does it make any sense ???)

    GOOD POINT -- that has happened to me before in Finale. It is VERY easy to overlook. If there is a rehearsal letter or another symbol that occurs in a score while an instrument is resting, that part may be omitted in the score. You have to choose "break multimeasure rest" for that item in order for it to show up in parts. This is a Finale-specific issue -- does it happen in Sibelius too?

    I almost missed a deadline once in grad school because I noticed this very problem on my way to my car to drive the score to the ensemble office. I would definitely add this to the list!

    chris.

  8. #8

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolas
    3. Harp issues. I won't be analysing the harp here, but it always needs extra care, if nothing else for the spelling. Also the pedal setting is something that most harpists I know do (in the begining of the page or even in every staff), so it's worth giving it to them from time to time...

    ALSO a good point -- I completely neglected this because I don't often use a harp in my orchestral works (sorry Gary!). But I'm working on a piece right now which features harp, so I should make sure to include this on the list!

    Basically, you need to check for playability (no G# and G-natural in the same area in the piece), and you need to make sure there is enough time to change tuning when required. It's a good idea to put pedal change markings to help the players out in sight reading.

    Same thing for TIMPANI -- make sure you leave enough space room for tuning when notes change.

    chris.

  9. #9

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Another thing I just noticed is not on the list (I will add it in in an edit):

    If an instruction carries over a page turn or after a long rest, it is a good idea to remind the conductor in (parenthesis).

    For example, the trumpets are muted in the on page 1, but they rest for 1293 measures and come back again, muted. It's a good idea to write "(mute)" as a quick reminder for the conductor. This is especially helpful for rehearsing, when you might start in the middle of a piece.

    Same thing with changes in tempo or dynamics (a long accelerando or crescendo that, usually notated with a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ... --- it's a good idea to remind the conductor on the following page what those dashes are for!)...

    I will add this to the list.

    chris.

  10. #10

    Re: Checklist for Score Production

    Heheh, I apologize to any grammarians for the state of this list. It is an English teacher's nightmare!

    I've compiled it bit by bit over the years, so the tense is all over the place -- if I ever make a "definitive" version, I'll clean it up! To our British friends, my humblest apologies!

    chris.

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