I received this email on the topic of the ideal vertical spacing between staves in scores and staff visibility from my friend and colleague John Hinchey, and thought I would share our exchange. John is a sought-after arranger and trombonist in Nashville who is currently on tour with Martina McBride, and also authors the Notes on Notes blog.
Here is a score formatting question. If I have an orchestra score with staves hidden when instruments are not playing, does one set the staves to justify across the entire page or leave them towards the top with extra blank space at the bottom?
At Winter NAMM 2015, MOTU demonstrated MusicXML export capabilities in their demo of the upcoming version 9 release of Digital Performer. DP is MOTU’s flagship DAW application for Mac and Windows, popular with many composers for film, television and other media.
DP9 will allow users to export a sequence’s MIDI data as an industry-standard MusicXML file, for import into music notation software such as Finale or Sibelius.
MusicXML export should provide a big workflow improvement for DP-based composers and orchestrators who currently must use Standard MIDI files to exchange data with their notation software of choice. This existing method often requires creating a duplicate copy of the sequence MIDI tracks and applying hard quantization before exporting, so that the notation application will interpret the exported MIDI data in a musically useful way.
DP9’s Music XML export appears to build upon the already solid Quickscribe notation features included in DP. The exported MusicXML file will included the non-destructive quantization applied by the Quickscribe transcription engine, as well as any dynamics or other markings added in the Quickscribe editor window.
DP9 is just the latest of several major DAWs to support MusicXML. Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo both feature import and export of MusicXML, while Apple LogicPro X, Cakewalk SONAR and MAGIX Sequoia offer export-only support for the standard. Users of Avid Pro Tools can open and save Sibelius files, but not MusicXML.
You can view MOTU’s DP9 preview presentation at Winter NAMM in the following video (notation-related content starts around 6:35):
MOTU Product Specialist Dave Roberts, seen in the video above, says “we are projecting late Spring for the DP9 release”. Check back here after DP9 ships for a thorough review of its MusicXML feature.
Brian Monroney is a guitarist, composer and arranger based in Seattle. He has recorded and/or toured with artists including Tom Jones, Gloria Estefan, Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole, and Nelson Rangell. Brian’s music has been heard on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Ellen, TMZ and Modern Marvels.
Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”:
A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text.
A few days ago, I was asked to visit the students of Seattle’s Pacific NW Film Scoring Program to speak about my role as music copyist, orchestrator and music librarian for feature films and video games.
The students asked some great questions, so I thought I would post a few of them along with my answers here.
I thought it might be good to devote some time to reviewing Finale’s Staff Height (Size) controls, since this seems to be a misunderstood area of the program.
There is a reason for the seemingly unrelated numerical values which have remained in Finale’s Page Format Dialog > System Scaling since very early versions. A bit of an historical perspective may be a good place to start.
Prior to the era of computer note-setting, plate engravers (music engravers) used a system of universally accepted staff sizes. There were 8 standard staff sizes, of which 5 were in common use:
Q: When preparing a musical theater orchestration, one of the “parts” I want to extract is actually a Piano/Vocal score, which has the piano staff and all the vocal staves. Copying standards in the musical theater world generally call for bar numbers to be on the top staff for these Piano/Vocal scores, but on the bottom of the staff for orchestra parts. Any thoughts on how you’d approach that particular conundrum in Finale?
A: In Sibelius, because Bar Numbers are individual Text Styles, this is easily achieved by simply making a copy of the Bar Numbers for Parts Text Style and then assigning it a different vertical location than the original (see Bar Number Flexibility for Score & Parts in Finale & Sibelius), where Finale’s design only offers one global position for all parts.
You are absolutely right – for master piano / conductor parts for musical theater, the bar numbers are frequently located above the staff; a different location from the other single line and braced grand staff parts, where the bar numbers are typically below.
Here is an example from the musical “Rent”:
In some published works, you may have seen single bar rests with a number “1” above them:
This house style choice can also provide a nice touch for jazz and big band charts which favor more of a “hand written” look:
This house style choice is very easy to set this up in both Finale and Sibelius.
In Sibelius, go to (Appearance) House Style > Engraving Rules> Bar Rests and select “Show ‘1’ above bar rests”:
In Finale, go to Document Options > Multimeasure Rests, and set the “Start Number At:” to 1 Measures. Then, check “Use Symbols for Rests Less Than”:
For modern charts, you will probably want 2 or more bar multi rests to display as an H-Bar rather than the old style rest symbols, which is the reason to set the value in Finale’s Symbols field to less than “2”; e.g. to only apply to one bar rests. Now, you can globally apply multi measure rests to the part or score and the number 1 will appear above all single bar rests.
That’s all there is to it.