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Topic: Score writing - multiple instruments

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  1. #1

    Score writing - multiple instruments

    This is for those who write musical scores the traditional way i.e. notes on a stave either by hand or using notation software such as Finale or Sibelius.

    I am curious to know how you assign your staves when using say 2 or 3 (or 4 in the case of horns) of the same instruments.

    When creating a full orchestral score where you have e.g. 2 Bb clarinets .. do you use a separate stave for each or do you place both clarinet parts on the same stave.

    If your full orchestral score included a choir do you do the same for them. Would you place Sop and Alto together on one staff and Ten and Bass on another staff or would you assign separate S A T B staves.

    I know that assigning individual staves for each individual instrument would lengthen a score but this is easily accommodated with modern notation processors and a range of different size manuscript papers. I realise that there is a trade-off and that some might prefer fewer staves on the score whereas others would prefer what they feel is a clearer instrumental layout.

    If anyone in the forums works regularly with professional orchestral scores is there a traditional, accepted way for this.

    What do you think?
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Hi Michael,

    I think each piece is different. It mostly depends on the complexity of the parts. If you have for instance, 3 horn parts, you might place horns 1 and 2 on one staff and horn 3 on another. String sections that are divided are usually kept on the same staff, especially if they are divided for only short passages. Choir parts can be either way. Again it depends on the complexity of the parts. If the choir is singing a lot of contrapuntal parts with differing words for every part, it would be better to keep them separate. If however, you have basic four part writing with all singing the same words at the same time, opt for saving space and write them on a grouped treble and bass staff with the words in between.

    The above is only what I’ve noticed, and others surly have more experience than I in preparing notation for publication etc.

    Check out “Music Notation” by Gardner Read. It has been a great resource for me over the years.

    Karl

  3. #3

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    The traditional accepted way is to group instruments on the same staff as long as they are similar in rhythm and silhouette. Also, traditionally, similar instruments DID have similar rhythm and shape! But -- opinion -- for self produced scores it's better to break out all the instruments and keep the same number of staves all the way through. Chorus in 4 parts unless it is very simple or in unison/octaves.

  4. #4

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    There are certain traditions, for example divisi writing for left and right stands in the strings. In the brass first and second trumpets will share a stave, but third has a different stave. Also there is the question of Transposition.

    On the whole working like this (IMO) doesn't suit GPO, pizzicato and other articulations best to have own track. Best to write first for GPO ingoring these traditions, then copy paste a second edition for real stuff

    I wonder if my view is shared?
    Core i7 920, Win 7 RC 64, Cubase 5 64, Omnisphere, Trilogy, RMX, EWQLSO Plat EW Choirs, GPO, Stradivari, Gofrilla, Absynth 4, Halion 3, Kontakt3, BFD2, VSL Strings, JBridge running all 32 bit apps well.

  5. #5
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    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Michael,

    I deal with this problem on a daily basis. As Karl said, each score is different. My preference is for each instrument to have a separate staff. However with a large instrumentation, the size of the staves becomes a little too small to read. Print your score on large paper. Double up like instruments on a single staff as discussed.

    Put 2 flutes together, but try to put the piccolo on a separate staff. 2 Oboes together, english horn separate staff. and so on. After the score is laid out, if you wish you can start with page 2 and optimize out any staves where the instrument is resting. Each page would end up being slightly different.

    I'd suggest making a copy of your score to use for part extraction and/or playback. Split any combined staves into individual parts. This will give you more control over your midi performance and create clearer parts for live musicians.

    Jeff

  6. #6

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by neoTypic
    Quick note: if you assign, say, Flute I to layer 1, and Flute II to layer 2 in the same staff you can change the MIDI channel for each in the Instrument List Window in Finale.

    That way you can have Flute I output to channel 1, and Flute II to channel 2 so you can tweak your MIDI data easily for both and then later use the expand layer to staff feature if you want them on different staves.
    I agree with NeoTypic and Jeff.
    Assigning the channels to the different layers is one thing - but if you want nuanced control, you need separate staves. I don't know about Sibelius, but I know that Finale only plays back "continuous data" in layer 1. (i.e. modulation changes, etc.) so if you want layer 2 to play Forte and crescendo, it won't

    So if it is for playback, stay with separate staves, if for print and "real musician" use, use the split (and layers) method, if it is for both - I would suggest using Jeff's appraoch.

    Good luck

    Jerry Wickham
    MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5ghz 4GB Ram OSX 10.5.8
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  7. #7

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Thanks everyone for your input. Every contribution here is great
    Michael
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  8. #8

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by neoTypic
    Jerry: I believe that if you use your expression tools in the proper layer it will work, you just have to write in the data on both layer 1 and layer 2. I could be wrong though.
    Actually, you can edit the data for all layers, but while PLAYING it back, only seems that Layer 1 plays back properly. But I am still using 2004, so that might be the problem.

    Thanks,

    Jerry
    MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5ghz 4GB Ram OSX 10.5.8
    Korg TritonLe & MAudio Oxygen 8
    T3, Logic 9, DP7, K2, GPO4, Strad, Gofriller, C&MB, Finale 2010

    My Website!
    New Film Scores!
    Also, Ever think about having your very own personal documentary? See my new Website!
    http://www.mylegacyfilm.com


  9. #9

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroZero
    On the whole working like this (IMO) doesn't suit GPO, pizzicato and other articulations best to have own track. Best to write first for GPO ingoring these traditions, then copy paste a second edition for real stuff

    I wonder if my view is shared?
    ZeroZero,

    One of the good news about Overture SE: On the Track window you can assign each voice of each staff a different GPO instrument. This way you can have, say Violins 1 Sus + Short assigned to voices 1 and 2, and Violins 1 Pizz to voices 3 and 4 of their corresponding staff: Vl1. Then, whenever you want to change articulation, you just write arco. or pizz. on the staff, and switch to voices 1-2 or 3-4. Coooool isn't it?

    Anton

  10. #10

    Re: Score writing - multiple instruments

    Another option is Oveture's built in keyswitching using expressions. My tutorial on this for SE is way overdue. And its going to get even better. I use voice switching still for most of my articulation changes since it keeps the score nicer in the long run, but there are other ways of doing it. Voices in Overture are great for divisi as well. Check my Overture SE tutorials on the GPO support page for more information on how to use voices.

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