Copying: Getting the Right Look!
this day and time, more arrangers and composers are producing their own
music copy. With the advent
of computer music notation programs like Finale, Sibelius, Score, Encore,
and such, as well as music fonts designed for these programs,
orchestrators are forgoing the use of a professional music copyist.
addition, there are many who consider themselves professional music
copyists that do not have the experience of being a copyist except for
using the computer.
been my experience that having the benefit of being a hand copyist or
engraver prior to the introduction of computer music notation provides a
distinct advantage in producing a quality look to one’s material.
this article, I will give some simple examples of do’s and don’ts for
your individual part layouts.
preparation for getting your final product to look as professional as
possible begins with how you enter information into a file.
my article on our method of part extraction (A
Different Approach to Finale Part Extraction) I explain the importance
of distinguishing between measure attached and note attached expressions.
Measure attached expressions should be used only for information
that applies to all of the parts and not for information unique to an
individual part (i.e. tempo info, style info, rehearsal letters, etc…).
Note attached expressions should be used for all information
particular to a part (dynamics, doubling info, etc…).
As a production company that often reuses material for different
venues this distinction is very important because of how Finale handles
the copying command <ctrl+c>; with this command only information
contained within the bar and not information attached to the bar is
copied. This is explained
more fully in my article “Music
Copying & Finale Part 3: A Pasting Paradise”.
must also take care in how you enter information to make sure that
expressions and smart shapes are attached to the appropriate stave or you
will get a nasty surprise when you extract the parts.
You must also give some care to how you place information if you
will be required to produce a score for an arrangement.
I receive files for extraction from arrangers who work in Finale.
This is usually not my preference because often I have to deal with
different versions of Finale. This
is generally not good because new versions of Finale come out every year
(which are often filled with bugs or in some cases are not an improvement
over older versions) and my company doesn’t immediately move to the
newer versions (we are currently on 2000) because of many of these
problems. Arrangers often move to the new versions because of a
perception that newer is always better and therefore I am forced to work
in these versions. To be
fair, there are many arrangers that I work with on a regular basis that
will come in to my office to train with me or send in several versions of
an arrangement (with feedback from me) until they get things the way they
should be. I appreciate these individuals and they remind me of writers
like Rich Shemaria who, even though he is a great writer, would often
confer with copyists to improve the look of his scores.
After all, the point is to get the correct information to the
the time I will layout my own score with my settings and paste in the
arrangers original file, it saves time and helps eliminate many of the
little landmines I always find deep in another person’s Finale file.
important step, extraction done right is the next major step in getting
the right look. This is one
of the principle reasons I prefer our extraction process because I can set
the tone for the look of the layout of every part beginning with the first
extraction. First off, look
below if you want to see my personal settings for page extractions – this
gives me a good start in my layout process.
extracted, begin to layout this part.
Take some time here and you will save a great deal of time in the
rest of the extraction process, if you use our process, that is, otherwise
you will have to spend an inordinate amount of time with each extraction.
If you use the normal Finale extraction process it might prove
effective to make a copy of the file for extraction, highlight the first
line/part in scroll view with the staff tool and set up your page title
information so that when you do the mass extractions the title information
is more or less set without affecting your score layout.
page title information includes title, instrument, arranger/orchestrator/
composer information, show or venue information, and log numbers if the
piece is part of a larger library. Second
page information should include instrument, page number, and title (or
fun part, the first piece of advice I offer is to do your best to refrain
from moving pieces of your music information individually.
Get use to adjusting things and planning globally rather than
moving an individual note or measure number here or there, because once
moved these bits will generally not cooperate when you want to make global
changes and resetting some of these things to the default isn’t always
start with I’ll extract a part using the traditional method.
As you can see below there are a few different parameters you can
use in the extraction process:
Using Fit Music
the 1st Example we check the fit music option and require it to fit 4 bars
a line. In
the spacing options I usually ask it to space considering all of the
options except Unisons and staff expressions, which throw off spacing like
the Examples below you will find:
Bad page turns on the odd pages (do everything possible to provide
page turns on odd pages for recording sessions and stage shows)
Lack of phrasing. This is important for sight-reading,
establishing patterns by baring phrases together.
Positioning of Measure attached (global) expressions (clashes and
Spacing is alright but locking it into 4 bars a line limits the computer
from making some better decisions
Too many pages
1 & 2
3 & 4
not check Fit 4 beats and choose note spacing option.
example below, you will notice a few things:
No page turn at the bottom of page 1 and no free look at the
bottom of page two (not a requirement but a nice thing to have if
Lack of phrasing.
Positioning of Measure attached (global) expressions (clashes and
d) Ties or Slurs at the end of a stave (bars 22,30,132,160)
The part is basically spaced okay but is laid out illogically.
Fit Music Extractions
2 & 3
I prefer the latter
because it gives me a better starting point for my layout.
Following is a sample of
one of our finished extractions. Remember that there is a difference
between Published material and live or recorded music. Usually there
are extreme time constraints on the live and recorded music. The
primary mission of the copyist in these situations is to do what is best
for the playing musician. Accuracy, layout, page turns, and phrasing
are all components involved in making the task of the musician easier so
that he/she can produce the best final product.
2 & 3
There are several
decisions that, for the time being, only a human can make. The look
is very important and is not necessarily something that we can easily quantify.
Whenever possible we grouped phrases. I was able to avoid Slur and
tie interruptions. I have an excellent page turn at the bottom of
page 1 and a good free look at the bottom of page 2. The layout is
balanced and clean without the crunching (squeezing) of notes.
With our extraction
process, I will be able to paste the balance of the single line parts (at
least through the low brass) with only minor changes in the layout as I
proceed through each family.
If you click on to these
images you can print them out and do some comparisons. This should
help you to start developing an eye for what is important for the
The next article will
deal with the layout of Vocal parts, a different animal all
Monroe is the owner of Express Music Services. He has been a
fulltime copyist for 20 years and was strictly a hand copyist for the
first 15. You can check out his hand music font by following this
link - LeeMusic.
Express Music Services, Inc.
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