I hereby present (part 2)

Having now completed the composing required to reduce all sparse areas in my score, my attention now lies in getting the score layout sorted. As previously stated, this is the part of this process I cannot stand!

However, due diligence – and a strong desire to ensure that I don’t throw valuable marks away through ignorance or laziness – is pushing me to ensure I spend dedicated time going through my score layout to ensure I check and double check everything carefully. I fully intend this part of my work to take me at least 2 weeks.

The plan:
Therefore, to this end, I now have a checklist that I want to work through:
1) Determine and enter a performance direction for each section (such as Giocoso for the Mad Hatter) because greater clarity is required for performers to understand better the character that I am looking for throughout.
2) Make sure that the overall stave size is as close to 5.5mm, which is the recognised size for a conductor’s score. It looks too small currently.
3) Hide all empty staves – this will then give me a vastly reduced layout to work with and save the trees, too, although I am considerably scared of doing this given past experience of this throwing everything out.
4) Re-establish any page breaks that may have changed as a result of no’s 2 and 3 above.
5) Make sure spacing between staves and instrument groups are uniform throughout and look tidy without clashes.
6) Ensure all instrument labels, tempo and performance directions are changed back to traditional font (I had originally set them in the Papyrus font to go with my titles and section headings, but on reflection feel this needs changing.
7) Make sure that all RH page numbers are odd and the LH even.
8) Ensure that all dynamics look right, are applied to EVERY new entry, are bold, and sit directly beneath the note it applies to. Make sure all crescendos/diminuendo hairpins and dash lines are straight (many of them currently are most definitely not!)
9) Ensure that where dynamics were once centralised between two staves (piano/harp parts) and following the ‘hide empty staves’ manoeuver,  I must double-check to see if any instructions need to be moved to beneath a stave that has been reduced from the two staves to one.
10) Double-check the trombone part and ensure any high sections are put into the tenor clef.

The work:
Performance directions are now entered; each section has a unique character and feel. Some jostling around was needed to ensure this was positioned beneath the section name but above any metronome marking. I also double-checked the notation convention around the placing of the metronome marking and Elaine Gould’s book ‘Behind Bars’ has been a total godsend at informing and reminding me on lots of tiny details throughout my presentation work (referenced below).

Stave size. I hadn’t realised until this point that the overall stave size had reduced because I had increased it a while back. Unsure quite how or why it happened (had it drunk the potion or eaten that side of the mushroom I wonder?). Reasons aside, I highlighted the entire score and increased it back to 5.5mm initially. This pushed my page numbers up to nearly 130. I then nudged the sizing back a little to 5mm, which in my mind still looked big enough, and in the process, reduced the total page count to around 100. That was better.

The next task was hiding the empty staves. This went better than expected. I highlighted all pages except those on the very first page of the score and those on the first page of the second movement. My total page count shot through the roof along with my heart rate, but then I realised that my page breaks had all gone all over the place.

The start of Movement II now fell slap bang in between two pages; that needed sorting out for a start. Once this was done, I went through all other breaks to make sure they were still appropriate, and low and behold some weren’t, especially at the start of my second movement (which now appeared half way through a page).  These were all reset; yay. Which then pushed my page count up again slightly; not so yay. But I quickly then realised that the layout had clashes; staves were now far too close together.

This led me straight on to the next area I had on my list. I needed to ensure that distances between both individual staves and groups of instruments looked uniformly similar between pages. I didn’t want the staves to clash and overlap, but equally I didn’t want them to be miles apart either. It needed to look professional.

I did start to move the staves around myself, dragging them away from others to create more space.  However, it didn’t feel like a very organised way of doing it, and aside from being really labourious, I remembered that I had stumbled across something in the Layout tab; I could adjust these distances in the Engraving rules and it would apply to the entire score. There was a god.

I was now able to make sure that my staves did not justify until 100% of the page was full; before I changed this, it was set to 65% and this meant that when I tried to drag the various staves apart, after a certain point, they would snap to fill the page, thus creating huge distances between instruments. By upping the justification % to 100, this stopped this from happening.

I also reset the distance between all the staves and between the instrument groups within the Engraving rules, which helped to make the score look more ‘uniform’ and saved some work. However, there was still a lot of manual manhandling to do to get distances between parts looking tidy. For example, where maybe two parts within a group needed to be spaced out a little further than the engraving rules allowed, I then wanted to make sure that the other staves within that group looked similar. And so commenced a lot of ‘fiddling’. A LOT.

I did ‘consider’ making further changes to some of the pages which now had only a small number of staves on them as a result of the  empty staves being hidden, but I quickly realised that if I changed things further to try fill these pages up, it caused even more issues further on through the manuscript. I was happy to compromised on this, with having the odd page that wasn’t fully occupied for the sake of maintaining the level of integrity I now had within the score; it also saved my sanity and another load of unravelling later.

Page numbers. Given that I had a cover page and a title page prefacing my music in Sibelius, I had no idea that they might have been pushing my page numbers along and effectively making the rest of my score page numbers wrong. It wasn’t until I looked through the regulations for preparing orchestral music that I realised that my RH pages were odd numbers and my LH pages even. I spent ages trying to figure out a way of stopping this from happening but to no avail. The only way I could see this from resolving was to remove the cover and title pages.
Thus, this is what I have ended up doing and these have now been created in Word and will be submitted as a separate document to the score itself.

Scrutinising the dynamics for what must be the 4th or 5th time was a painful, slow process. I decided to take this task a page at a time; I couldn’t bare going backwards and forwards through the score taking it an instrument at a time. By taking it a page at a time, I was able to make sure I checked through everything I needed to and be safe in the knowledge that I had covered all areas before moving to the next page along.

Hiding the empty staves was a very good idea, despite the fear and dread it caused me initially. However, where I previously had empty bars within my piano and harp staves, these were then hidden and thus, double staves suddenly reduced to single ones. Which was great. Except my beautiful dynamics that were positioned perfectly between these double staves were now floating above the stave; all needed to be repositioned beneath, as per the notation convention of applying all dynamics beneath an orchestral instrument’s stave. Very annoying. Very frustrating. Very time-consuming. But important to correct. And, of course, this exercise did mean that spacing needed to be adjusted to accommodate the re-positioning of dynamics, and so further re-spacing of staves was needed.

Trombone. High trombone to be precise. This was relatively straightforward and I went through and adjusted the clef from bass to tenor where required. I had forgotten to change it back to the bass clef in a couple of places, so I was glad of the various double-checks which have become a frequent exercise!

I can now definitely confirm with absolute certainty that I hate editing and tidying up my scores. With a passion. And if I can learn and apply some fabulous shortcuts prior to scoring something within Sibelius next time, I will. For sure. Or I will go bald and the Mad Hatter will look calm and serene in comparison.

Gould, E (2011). Behind Bars. London: Faber Music. Whole book.


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