Thursday, July 28, 2005

Progress Report

Here are some of the preliminary formatting decisions I've made for the music we'll be analyzing:

1] I am putting in every single note that Liszt transcribed from Beethoven's score of the Ninth.

The idea here is that I obviously don't want to second guess one who forgot more about this symphony than I'll ever know. Liszt has some alternative ossia passages notated that I am going to omit, however. I'll just comment on them with a gloss as we get to them.

2] Stem lengths and beam groupings I'm being flexible with.

Since I'm going to be taking screen captures of the music I'm entering into Encore, I have made all of the beams level to avoid zig-zag lines: Encore is not 100% WYSIWYG, unfortunately. There is also the fact that I want to keep enough space between staves to comfortably add the analysis, yet wind up with few enough total pages so that the posts won't contain too many of them.

3] I am not going to be using engraver's spacing.

I have decided to keep the number of measures per system at four, unless the phrasing varies from that number, and also keep the size of the actual measures equal within each system. This makes the phrasing more readily apparent, and also gives a better visual representation of the temporal duration of each phrase and the piece as a whole.

4] No piano fingerings or other idiomatic piano indicators will be used.

That includes pedal indications as well as fingerings. I want to keep this score as clean as possible, and considering the mind-numbing nature of entering just the music, I want to save myself a little bit of effort as well. The placement of those indicators would also often be competing for space with the analysis.

5] No dynamics or tempo change indicators will be used.

Again, cleanliness is a goal here, and I'm assuming anyone interested in following this project along will be familiar enough with the music to be generally aware of the phrasing and dynamics. Of course, I will comment on a lot of this stuff as we progress along. Again, dynamic and tempo indications are often placed where I want to have the analysis.

6] No 8va/8vb indicators will be used.

Wanting to actually visualize the piece, I decided against using these. I will, however, use most of Liszt's clef changes in the left hand part.

There are some other minor things, like the presence of rests in secondary voices within a texture, which you will notice if you have Liszt's piano score handy, but since this is an analysis of the music, and not a performance score, I have decided to concentrate on getting the actual notes right while making room for the analysis. The end result of these decisions is that the music looks... well, clinical is the only word that comes quickly to mind. Peculiar would be another befitting term, I guess. In any case, I'm pleased with how it's coming along and actually like the way it looks.

I may be one of the last people to learn actual music calligraphy from Bill Brinckley when I was an undergraduate at Berklee, as the Synclavier's Music Printing Option was being developed at about that time, and I aquired a Synclavier in 1984. By the time I got to graduate school in the late 80's, Finale had appeared (Though I refused to use it because it was even MORE user-hostile and anti-intuitive than the Synclavier was (And it still is, amazingly enough)), and by the time I was a doctoral candidate, Encore - the first intuitively usable music printing program - had appeared and I made the switch to that. By the time the Mac OS X-native version of Encore came out, it was slick enough that I rarely picked up a sketch pad anymore. While Finale seems to still be mired in decisions the early programmers made when they wrote it (Like having to define repeats and having those idiotic Layers: Why not have the music play back by default as if someone was actually reading and playing it?), I have heard that Sibelius is quite good and has a great artist interface. Unfortunately, having ported my completed compositions across three platforms and two programs, I simply don't have the stomach to take another few months off to re-enter everything (Guitar music has a gazillion idiomatic performance indicators which are lost in MIDI exports/imports). This is just a long winded appology for being stuck with Encore, which has it's shortcomings, but I am so familiar with it that it's just an extension of my creative process anymore. "Well, there you have it. There it is." as the King in Amadeus said.

I have still not gotten a shipping confirmation from Apple on the Mini yet, which is starting to chap my butt a tad as I'm anxious to get this project off the launching pad, but the keyboard, mouse, ADC/DVI converter and, of course, my magnificent monitor are all in place now. I'll just keep entering the music as well as posting various inanities until that day arrives.

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