Western music notation is a fixed set of rules devised for expressing something that, by nature, is not fixed. Our current notation system has been culled and pruned over the last several centuries from numerous musical symbols and instructions down to the current set.
Professional musicians not only understand the meaning of these, but are able to interpret them with appropriate variation and nuance based on context.
Frequently, in orchestral scores, 2 woodwind or brass parts are shared on the same staff. The staff may contain a mixture of divisi and unison notes.
Normally, if the two parts are homophonic, the line shares a stem as well as slurs and articulations. When the line goes to unison for any length of time, a common practice is to indicate “a2″ at the start point of this unison. At that point, a single notehead and stem is written, and this carries until the next divisi section:
ENTERING NOTES, TEXT, LINES AND SYMBOLS
Having a consistent workflow routine when engraving a piano score can increase efficiency and accuracy. This guide provides the series of steps I follow to stay on track.
Sibelius has a very good piano template which will produce a nice looking piano score. Of course, you can always adjust the layout, and change various house style elements, but for now, let’s start with provided New Score Manuscript Paper (template).
Start by setting the score up with the proper title, composer, meter and key.
As a composer and teacher, I often have the chance to explore areas of music and musical notation with which I am unfamiliar. A few years ago one of my students expressed an interest in composing “outside” the traditional Western idea of the equal tempered 12-tone scale. We decided to start our exploration with the concept of quarter tones. As so often is the case, the resulting study benefitted me as much as my student. Along the way, I was delighted to find my notation software was up to the challenge of creating and playing our various compositional attempts.
A very brief history of quarter tone music
The simplest way to describe a quarter tone is a pitch falls halfway between what we think of as a half step (semitone) in the traditional western chromatic scale. A quarter tone scale contains twice as many notes (24) as its 12 note chromatic cousin. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the origins of quarter tone music:
Known as gadwal in Arabic, the quarter tone scale was developed in the Middle East in the eighteenth century and many of the first detailed writings in the nineteenth century Syria describe the scale as being of 24 equal tones. The invention of the scale is attributed to Mikhail Mishaqa whose work Essay on the Art of Music for the Emir Shihāb (al-Risāla al-shihābiyya fi ‘l-ṣinā ‘a al-mūsīqiyya) is devoted to the topic but also makes clear his teacher Sheikh Muhammad al-‘Attār’ (1764-1828) was one of many already familiar with the concept.
The quarter tone scale may be primarily considered a theoretical construct in Arabic music. The quarter tone gives musicians a “conceptual map” with which to discuss and compare intervals by number of quarter tones and this may be one of the reasons it accompanies a renewed interest in theory, with instruction in music theory being a mainstream requirement since that period.
A solution to this problem would be useful to many music educators, who often present introductory music in fewer than five-line staffs, but want to acquaint students with the conventional symbols like repeat signs.
A: In Finale, moving the repeat dot locations is a simple matter of adjusting the vertical location for available “Top Repeat Dot” and “Bottom Repeat Dot” parameters in Staff Setup. However, while the method to achieve this in Sibelius is somewhat more circuitous, it is indeed quite possible, and in fact, once you’ve created the mechanism once, it is very fast to create in subsequent worksheets or even scores, via Export / Import House Style.
In the early days of Finale and Sibelius, individual parts were generated from a master score via a painful and aptly named process referred to as “Extraction”. The programs would dutifully export twenty or thirty cryptically named parts files onto your Desktop which would then need to be cleaned up and individually prepared for printing. Any subsequent changes to the score *also* required edits to one or more (or all) respective parts.
Today, parts are integrated within the score and the content is intelligently married. Sibelius calls its parts integration feature “Dynamic Parts“, while Finale labels their feature “Linked Parts“. In general, having scores and parts linked in one master file has proven to be a godsend, but there are some caveats.
Woodwind and brass instruments aren’t polyphonic. With some notable quality control exceptions in currently published music, common practice is to have one instrument per staff in the parts. Ideally, woodwind and brass players should not be required to locate their lines from within a divisi part.
At the same time, the better organized an orchestral score is, the more readable it becomes. Generally scores with fewer systems are easier to read. Quite often, the requirement is for pairs of instruments appearing on a single staff wherever possible: Clarinet 1 and 2 on a single staff, Horn 1 and 3 on a single staff and so on. For this tutorial, we’ll start with divisi or chorded staves in the score, and create individual parts from these.
Let’s take a look at how each program currently integrates score and parts, and some ways we can make Finale and Sibelius best work to our advantage despite any limitations.
Music that supplies only the pitches while directing the players to improvise the rhythms freely is a common (partly) aleatoric device which gives the composer a desired degree of control over the tonality, while retaining temporal freedom.
The notation is typically indicated by surrounding a series of specific pitches with a square or rectangular box, along with a box extender line to indicate that the pitches are to be improvised on for a specific number of beats or a given number of seconds. The exact duration of the “box” can also be indicated as a text duration (e.g. 00:06″ etc).
In ”Creating Aleatoric / Temporal Boxed Notation in Finale, Part 1” we looked at how to create these semi-aleatoric directives.
Sometimes, the reverse is desired: the rhythm is notated, but the specific pitches are left up to the player. A common convention for this is to show stems of different lengths (without noteheads) to show the relative pitch relationships:
This is quite simple to do in Finale: