Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Musical Arts and Crafts - Part 2

This post is a continuation of my first Musical Arts and Crafts publication, which I have copied as the next entry in this blog. You know, in case you didn't get to read it the first time... ;)

Musical arts and crafts is all about mounting scores into a large book that makes reading multiple pages and the resulting page turns manageable for the soloist.  There's something about it that shows a sense of ownership about learning the piece. When I'm fiddling with 20 loose pages I feel like someone who is barely trying to hold on, but when it's mounted in my book, I feel like I have control over my learning experience of the piece. It's very satisfying.

What I have to share with you today are some examples of "things getting crazy" in the mounting process. In other words, I just mounted a score that was not pretty, required lots of cutting and folding and taping, and whose pages aren't even in chronological order. That's right, folks, sometimes you can't read from left to right. Keep reading...I'll explain. It makes MUCH sense.

There are a few basic points of today's post:
1. Lazy Editing: Dealing with lazy part editing (ie: grand staff always appears even though there are significant sections that don't require it)
2.  Pages Aren't Real: realizing that a "page" does not mean you have to read it as "that page"
3.  Marimba Geography: the advantages of mounting a score in reference to range rather than chronology

Note: Most of these photos are blurry, and that is intentional. To protect the rights of the composers, I've left off names and titles (mostly...) and tried to not zoom in on notes, although sometimes it was unavoidable. 

For those moments when composers don't edit...

I get it. Everybody's busy. Everybody has the things they let slide when the deadline looms.


Can we talk about how happy it makes performers when a score is printed for page turns? Take the photo below - this is a score by Jacob TV, and he has chosen to sacrifice the cost of paper for a score that is immediately performable because it is formatted with page turns.

The Body of Your Dreams. Check out my video here.

See how the second page only has 4 measures printed on it? Beautiful! He's racking up that page-turn karma!
As the wife of a self-publishing composer, I understand the value of keeping an eye on printing costs, and know that it is not cost-effective to format music this way.


Isn't it nice when you can read a piece straight through the first time without fiddling with 85,000 loose pages? Ok, maybe not 85,000, but even 5 or 6 can be annoying enough, whether on marimba or piano.  But a score like the one above? GOLD.


The piece I just mounted was guilty of pages and pages of grand staff printing when it didn't need to be there.  Maybe some people prefer this, but it's a major waste. (ehhem printing costs)
I always slice up the pages to the proper size, which usually means cutting off the treble or bass staff from the grand staff, and then reassemble it on another sheet of paper.

In the photo above, you can see the individual pieces of the score (maybe eight in all??) taped together.  By reducing and "hiding" the grand staff, I saved 1.5 pages of space, taking a 2.5 page section to just over a page.

In the photo above you can tell that the staves are close together, but this doesn't bother me.  This particular piece is one I've considered memorizing, so since the score is there just as a reminder, I'm fine with this close spacing.

Anytime I order a new score, I immediately copy it so I can do this kind of splicing and re-formatting right off the bat.  I've found it to be really helpful, as I inevitably end up studying the score in the process. Win-Win.

Pages Aren't Real

Though we refer to pieces by page number all the time in rehearsal and lessons, in all actuality...pages aren't real.  They exist only because that's what we print music on. And this is very important to remember when mounting a score.

In the photo below you can see the size of the mixed media paper (the mounting surface) and where I have slightly extended the score placement past the upper edge.

By placing just one system above the edge of the paper I reduced this 20-page piece to having only one page turn in my book.  

You can tell that each page has two columns of music on it. Something I want to point out is that these columns don't actually represent the original printed pages of this solo part (a fact that's probably obvious due to the length of each column).  In addition to placing one system above the staff, in order to make the page turns possible I had to compress the space between systems.
This meant no comfortable blank space, no "clean" pages. Again, since I contemplated memorizing this piece, I'm not bothered by the cramped spacing. And honestly, most scores end up having at least one page that looks like the one above. Notes, notes, notes.

But back to this idea of "pages."  The left column of the mixed media paper above contains page 1 and about half of page 2 of the original part. The remainder of page 2 begins above the paper edge of the right column; page 3 is taped below that, and the top system of page 4 is squeezed onto the end of the page.

By thinking of the music in systems for readability rather than arbitrary pages for organization, the process of mounting a score becomes much, much easier.

On that note, systems aren't particularly "real" either...

There are moments when an expressive change in the music - a ritard, tempo change, long rest, cesura, etc. - happens in the middle of a system. We don't really notice these things when we read from a well-printed part.  But when mounting a score, you have to be willing to slice up a system, as it is the only place to turn the page. Yep, it's unpretty, but it works.

In the photo above you see the lonely measure sitting at the bottom of the page. This section closes with a diminuendo and slight ritard, and the following measure, (unpictured because it's on the next page), begins with 3 beats of rest -- allowing time for the turn.

Marimba Geography

We all know that marimbas are big instruments. They're almost 9 feet long, and depending on the piece, you could be standing as much as 6 feet away from the music, maybe more.  (On that note, anybody else ever "blow up" their scores on the copy machine??)


I've started taking into account this idea of Marimba Geography when I mount scores.  Sure, maybe a page turn works, but if it puts part of the score in a position that's almost 7 feet away from me, then it isn't that helpful. 

Essentially, this idea of Marimba Geography is all about range.  An upper-range section needs to be towards the right of the stand; a lower-range section near the bottom, and a wide or middle-range needs to be centered. Now I know I'm not the first, only, or last person to think about this, but it I do believe it has way more to do with the learning process and accuracy issues than we think.  But I digress...that's a different post.

Here's an example of this recent score, along with Carmen San Diego flight instructions.

Let's say this has 4 columns of music, numbered 1-4 from left to right.

I know it's blurry so let me explain. Begin reading column 1 as usual, from top to bottom.  Then, read the top half of column 2 continuing on to column 3 on the next page.  Hence my "TO NEXT PAGE!!"  directions to myself in column 2.  Read column 3 to column 4, and once you're at the end of column 4 go back to the lower half of column 2 to finish the piece.

So...why do that?

It has to do with being able to read the music while standing in the required range of the instrument.  This piece ends in the lowest octave of the marimba, which puts me to the far left of the music stand.  Had I mounted the score chronologically, the end would have been at the far right corner of the stand...far away from my eyes....far away from any possibility of hitting the right notes.

Luckily, the pages leading up to the end feature a wide range that require me to be centered at the instrument, which meant that these pages could be mounted anywhere and I'd be able to see them.  In particular, the section mounted at the top of column 2 and all of column 3 are spread really far apart, so I knew that that section had to be in the middle of the book.

It worked out nicely that the ending could fill the extra space at the bottom of column 2. Love it when that happens!!

If you aren't familiar with the idea of mounting a score into a book you can check out my previous post on the subject, which should be located below. If it's something you've never done I highly suggest it.
But do make a copy first, that way the original score stays clean and beautiful. (Even if it is full of lazy editing.)


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