Working notes

Whilst I’m working on the next chunk, I thought I would document my current working process. I have three versions of the score; a PDF of the handwritten manuscript; a “clean” typeset version and a “performing” typeset version from which the virtual performance is generated. I work on chunks of around 10-15 minutes’ worth of music at a time very much dependent on finding natural gaps/pauses in the music. This next chunk is a long one at about 17 minutes. It contains a very lengthy, multi-divisi, choral and orchestral polyphonic singing section with the chorus in 12-16 parts and the strings in 20 parts. It concludes though with a fantastical virtuosic section for the orchestra with abundant rapid semiquavers, lots of untuned percussion and stentorian brass.

The first job is to add all the necessary bars into the performing score. As we’re talking hundreds of bars and the time signature changes frequently this is no easy task. And I can’t just cut and paste from the clean score into the performing score as the layout of each score is very different. The clean score, designed for a conductor, has upward of 60+ staves but the performing score has more than double that as I have to have separate staves for strings in 10 parts, strings in 20 parts, violins in 16 parts, chorus in up to 32 parts, staves for individual wind & brass as well as staves for tutti wind/brass sections and muted brass.  For instance, the clean score has a stave for trumpets 1&2 with the part occasionally dividing into two parts on the one stave and occasionally requiring mutes. In the performing score I have to have two virtual instruments for the two trumpets and a separate virtual instrument for muted trumpets and each virtual instrument needs its own stave.

Having created the correct number of bars I cut and paste each individual stave from the clean score into the performing score and with 60+ staves that’s a lengthy and tedious job but from then on I concentrate on the performing score. I go through every instrumental part separating any divisi passages (where there is more than one line of music on a stave an issue mainly for the chorus and strings) so that each line of music is on its own stave. I also check the range of individual parts (an issue mostly in the woodwind) moving bits too low for the flute, oboe or clarinet for instance into parts for alto flute, hecklephone or bass clarinet. I have to check ranges of tuned percussion as the way Sorabji expected octave displacement in Glockenspiel, celesta and xylophone doesn’t work the same in the virtual instruments which mostly have to be transposed down an octave to generate the correct pitch. I have to virtually rewrite the piano and harp parts to ensure they generate the right sounds from the virtual instruments and for the same reason rewrite the untuned percussion using special percussion staves designed to generate the correct articulations from the virtual instrument. Only then can I actually start on creating the performance.

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