Notating Alternate Sections

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windrag
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Notating Alternate Sections

Post by windrag »

I'm trying to find out if there is a conventional way of notating a section having two different possibilities. For example, if I have a piece with three sections:

A
B
C

and I want to notate an alternate B section in the same piece of music (with the choice of whether to play B or B alt. being agreed on by the performers ahead of time), is there a graceful and agreed upon way to notate the section jumps? In the piece I am working on, the two different B sections coincide with a notated modulation, and the two B sections are in different keys. After the B section, the player would jump to the C section in either case. Is the alternate B section placed at the end of the piece, or after the first B section? I can see a lot of different ways this could be done, none of them especially graceful.

I know that one option is just to create two different scores, but I'm wondering if there is a standard way to do this within one score.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Notating Alternate Sections

Post by John Ruggero »

If we are talking about the parts, I'd place the two B sections one after the other, before the C section, carefully titled.

But the layout would also be important and that would depend on the length of the sections. If they are short enough, they could be placed on one page, or on two facing pages, so the beginning and ending of each section is visible, and maybe even the beginning of the C section. For safety, the players could pencil out the section not to be played. Also important to the layout would be if the sections are continuous with A and C in terms of page turns.

If the B sections are longer than a part page, things become more problematic. I think I would place each B section on one set of facing pages, so two pages could be paper clipped together to avoid the non played section.

If the piece were short enough, two sets of parts, or two complete alternate versions within one set would be best, however.

In the score, I would lay out each of the B sections one after the other, carefully marked to start at the beginning of a left page and end on a right page. Then the conductor can clip pages together to avoid the non-played section.
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RMK
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Re: Notating Alternate Sections

Post by RMK »

John Ruggero wrote:
15 Mar 2021, 13:06

In the score, I would lay out each of the B sections one after the other, carefully marked to start at the beginning of a left page and end on a right page. Then the conductor can clip pages together to avoid the non-played section.
You mean the librarian, of course! :)

To the OP: You didn't specify what software you are using, but this would be a breeze in Dorico - just put each section in a different flow and lay it out however you prefer.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Notating Alternate Sections

Post by John Ruggero »

Yeh, that paper clip is really heavy and inserting it would be very time-consuming. :)

I hope the OP gets back to us and tells why this is required. Several unusual scenarios came to mind. Is it an aleatoric performance in which they flip for it immediately before the performance? Or are they accompanying live stage action and might need to change at a moments notice? etc.
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windrag
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Re: Notating Alternate Sections

Post by windrag »

Thanks for your help! Yes, I'm in Dorico.

The case in point is a lead sheet for Dream A Little Dream Of Me. The piece starts in the key of C. Early recordings by Ozzie Davis and the classic Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong versions all move to Ab, but the best-known version to folks of my generation, by Cass Elliot of The Mamas & The Papas goes to A major in the bridge. I want to show my students both versions, as we are studying modulation. The lead sheet does fit on two facing pages, and it is fairly straightforward to tell students whether we will be playing B1 or B2 this go-'round.

What I have done so far in Dorico is to create the score as if both B1 and B2 are part of the same flow, at the end of the A section I use system text to make a note to jump to B1OR B2, and at the end of B1 I use system text to note the jump to C. The cautionary key signatures are a bit messy, but I can ask about that on the Dorico forum. I was just wondering if there is a standard way to notate this kind of thing so that I would know the conventions before I start asking questions about how to notate in Dorico.

Thank you!

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John Ruggero
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Re: Notating Alternate Sections

Post by John Ruggero »

That explains it, windrag! Thanks.

If it is a lead sheet on two facing pages and you are entitling the sections A, B1, B2 and C, you could put "segue B1 or B2" after A and "segue C" after B1 and B2. Or you could call C a Coda and use "to Coda" and a Coda sign before C.

I would make sure that both B sections start at the beginning of a line and end at the end of a line. Maybe a little extra space between the appropriate staves to define the 4 sections. There is even the possibility of indenting the two B sections and putting the B1 and B2 to the left of the start of the line. Or doing that to all the sections.

But you might pose this to someone who does musical theater. This situation must come up often in that setting and there might very well be a standard way to do it. Fred G Unn maybe.
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