Looking for commentary on some of my work

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Schonbergian
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Schonbergian » 06 Feb 2017, 02:32

What I see looking at the Breitkopf edition of this piece (freely available on IMSLP) is that my staves are not too dense but the lyrics should be closer to the stave itself. It seems like slightly more spacing, along with moving the lyric line slightly closer to the stave in question, should do the trick.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by John Ruggero » 06 Feb 2017, 16:30

I agree with your conclusion about the lyrics. However, you probably shouldn't draw sweeping conclusions from looking at this one edition. It appears to be part of an old critical Complete Works and in such volumes the performance aspect was often not considered. I think that many would consider the density to be greater than one would see in a practical edition. (And factor in that yours truly actually prefers dense to loose.) You might look through other editions for comparison. But again, I am certainly no expert in this area and hope that others will voice their opinion. And, of course, I am assuming that you are aiming at a practical performance edition.
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Fred G. Unn » 07 Feb 2017, 13:54

A few comments:

1. Your system bracket seems awfully far from the music. I would move it a bit closer.
2. I agree with John's earlier comment about the periods. I just don't see the point. (he he)
3. The measure numbers are just slightly too close to the wings of the bracket. I would move them up just a tiny bit.
4. The discrepancy between measure # size and page # size is quite odd. Page two it almost looks like 20 squared for a measure number. I would move the page number up (or the music down) and increase the size of the page # by a couple of points.
5. Extensions still missing in m. 9, 10, 24, 28, 31, 40-41, 47, 48, 52-53, 57-58. Personally I don't really think they are optional, and the omission of an extender in the 4th to 5th measures of the Breitkopf example you posted just looks like an error to me.
6. Fermatas at end are just a bit large for my taste and are a few pixels too close to the staff, but that may be just a personal preference.
7. Maybe it's in the original, but I don't see the need for the D natural in m58. There isn't a previous D# in that part, and there aren't really any other cautionary accidentals in the piece, including places that would typically call for them such as m. 4, 9, 13, etc. If you are going to use cautionary accidentals, I would apply them consistently.

Florian
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Florian » 07 Feb 2017, 14:50

Good job, Schonbergian! Unfortunately, when you deal a lot with choral music you can't help coming across the very worst of 'contemporary engraving' every day, even in professional publications. This is a very pleasing counterexample!

Because you asked: I've got a few thoughts.

1. Vertical spacing: The Breitkopf edition is beautiful. As you suggest, I would move the lyrics closer to the staves. In the first system, Cantus, I would even move the word 'Domine' closer to the stave, thus 'breaking' the lyrics line, but avoiding that 'Do-' floating in mid-air. (The extensive use of C-clefs in old editions of choral music resulted in less notes outside the staves so the vertical position of lyrics was then not so much of a problem.) Concerning the spacing of the staves: I think this is a matter of balance. In the Breitkopf edition, the space between the systems is much smaller, white space on the page is more evenly 'spread out'. In your case, I would definitely increase stave spacing.

2. Type area: I would increase all, especially left and right page margins to achieve more harmonious proportions of the type area – and to shorten the systems, which are a little too long for my taste. If that results in too dense horizontal spacing again, why not go back to the smaller system size you started with? Choir singers, at least in Germany, are used to read music from quite small staves used in piano reductions. On the first page, I would add even more space between title and music. (I found this helpful, when I started engraving: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canons_of ... nstruction)

3. Note values: I feel more relaxed when I read the old 'double' note values used in the Breitkopf edition. People may have to get used to it again, but is that so much of a challenge? There are so many beams and black noteheads in your version... I always feel like those many white noteheads in old editions of renaissance music give me more space to breathe! Also, less black and more white noteheads and less beams might make the music appear less dense. Look at the quarter notes in the Breitkopf edition: they are more densely spaced then your eighth notes, but still don't seem too close.

3. Fonts: This is a matter of taste, of course. I like those fell types but I think they don't combine too well with Cadenza (which I love for it's clarity and simplicity). Perhaps a rougher music font like MTF-Haydn would be a better choice? Or Cadenza plus something like Century Schoolbook, or even Minion Caption? The numbers of the fell types are a little harder to read, I would increase the distance between measure numbers and staves.
Voice names are too large for my taste.

4. For my eyes the brackets are still too far from the staves. There's too much space between the start of the first system and the 'vocal range indications' (don't know the english term), but not enough between these and the clefs. Perhaps use smaller noteheads for them?

Anyway, the score as it is now is already much better then many! Go on with your good work!

EDIT: I just saw Fred's post, sorry for any duplicates. I agree about those points after anything. And no, I also don't think lyric extenders are optional.

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tisimst
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by tisimst » 07 Feb 2017, 15:33

Fred G. Unn wrote:
07 Feb 2017, 13:54
1. Your system bracket seems awfully far from the music. I would move it a bit closer.
I agree with you, Fred. I've never understood why this is the default setting in LilyPond for that...

@Schonbergian: If you want to change this and you're wondering what the right incantation is, here's what I use on a regular basis (though you might like it even closer):

\override ChoirStaff.SystemStartBracket.padding = #0.5 % Default is 0.8
\override StaffGroup.SystemStartBracket.padding = #0.5 % Default is 0.8

Put those in a \layout block and you should be good to go.
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Schonbergian
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Schonbergian » 07 Feb 2017, 23:33

Here's the latest version with more spacing, a more readable measure number font, and added cautionary accidentals in line with current overall guidelines.

In regards to the lyric extenders, I'm aiming to avoid what I see as overuse of extenders (the following VW example from OUP, and is at least Canadian PD)
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In my mind, this adds unnecessary clutter, and I have thusly kept the extenders to a minimum. If there are egregious cases of melismata and no slur then I believe their use is justified, but I completely disagree with the mentality that they need to be used on every syllable covering more than one note.
Florian wrote:
07 Feb 2017, 14:50
Good job, Schonbergian! Unfortunately, when you deal a lot with choral music you can't help coming across the very worst of 'contemporary engraving' every day, even in professional publications. This is a very pleasing counterexample!

Because you asked: I've got a few thoughts.

1. Vertical spacing: The Breitkopf edition is beautiful. As you suggest, I would move the lyrics closer to the staves. In the first system, Cantus, I would even move the word 'Domine' closer to the stave, thus 'breaking' the lyrics line, but avoiding that 'Do-' floating in mid-air. (The extensive use of C-clefs in old editions of choral music resulted in less notes outside the staves so the vertical position of lyrics was then not so much of a problem.) Concerning the spacing of the staves: I think this is a matter of balance. In the Breitkopf edition, the space between the systems is much smaller, white space on the page is more evenly 'spread out'. In your case, I would definitely increase stave spacing.
I agree and believe I have managed to find a happy medium between overuse of white space and density in the latest version.
2. Type area: I would increase all, especially left and right page margins to achieve more harmonious proportions of the type area – and to shorten the systems, which are a little too long for my taste. If that results in too dense horizontal spacing again, why not go back to the smaller system size you started with? Choir singers, at least in Germany, are used to read music from quite small staves used in piano reductions. On the first page, I would add even more space between title and music. (I found this helpful, when I started engraving: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canons_of ... nstruction)
Done; perhaps slightly, but I feel it improves the balance nonetheless.
3. Note values: I feel more relaxed when I read the old 'double' note values used in the Breitkopf edition. People may have to get used to it again, but is that so much of a challenge? There are so many beams and black noteheads in your version... I always feel like those many white noteheads in old editions of renaissance music give me more space to breathe! Also, less black and more white noteheads and less beams might make the music appear less dense. Look at the quarter notes in the Breitkopf edition: they are more densely spaced then your eighth notes, but still don't seem too close.
As a singer and conductor myself, I agree - however, those I work with seem to have surprising difficulty reading white notation. Perhaps some re-education is in order as with your suggestion, but given its disuse in modern notation, it'll be an uphill battle to say the least.
3. Fonts: This is a matter of taste, of course. I like those fell types but I think they don't combine too well with Cadenza (which I love for it's clarity and simplicity). Perhaps a rougher music font like MTF-Haydn would be a better choice? Or Cadenza plus something like Century Schoolbook, or even Minion Caption?
I have switched back to Haydn (as much as I love Cadence, Haydn is just too inky and classic for me not to love)
The numbers of the fell types are a little harder to read, I would increase the distance between measure numbers and staves.
This has been fixed. I am researching options for moving the numbers farther away.
4. For my eyes the brackets are still too far from the staves. There's too much space between the start of the first system and the 'vocal range indications' (don't know the english term), but not enough between these and the clefs. Perhaps use smaller noteheads for them?
The bracket has been fixed. I am unsure how to fix the ambitus as per your recommendation; perhaps Abraham can share some more of his "incantations"!
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Fred G. Unn » 08 Feb 2017, 04:03

Schonbergian wrote:
07 Feb 2017, 23:33
In regards to the lyric extenders, I'm aiming to avoid what I see as overuse of extenders
...
In my mind, this adds unnecessary clutter, and I have thusly kept the extenders to a minimum. If there are egregious cases of melismata and no slur then I believe their use is justified, but I completely disagree with the mentality that they need to be used on every syllable covering more than one note.
You are of course free to use extenders as you see fit, but you are in conflict with virtually every publisher and notation guide, so it just looks wrong to my eye. See Gould pg 447, Ross pg 183, Read pg 296, Stone pg 299, Boosey & Hawkes Style Guide pg 102, Schirmer pg 89, etc. Some of the notes lacking a syllable, extender, hyphen, or slur simply look like errors, like the engraver left something out. (See Bassus m10, Quintus m24, Tenor m32, etc.)

A few more comments ...

I'm also still unclear what criteria you are using for cautionary accidentals. For example Cantus m4 has a D natural when there is no altered D previously in the part. I would sometimes add a cautionary for a cross-relation in another part, but you didn't add a D natural for m4 in the Altus even though there is a D# just two beats prior. There are lots of different theories and styles of cautionaries, but the lack of consistent application just seems a bit haphazard to me. I would pick a consistent style of application and stick to it.

My proofreading eye is just naturally drawn to collisions at this point, and if I have to zoom in to 400% to see that there is actually one pixel of space between the first note and first syllable, that's just too close IMO. Obviously the lyric needs to be close to the system it belongs too, but there are a couple of instances like that where I think a tiny bit of vertical adjustment would be beneficial.

Pause or breath marks always go above the staff as to not cause a collision as in your m24, m30, etc. (See Gould 187-189, Ross 208-209)

Schonbergian
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Schonbergian » 09 Feb 2017, 04:07

Fred G. Unn wrote:
08 Feb 2017, 04:03
I'm also still unclear what criteria you are using for cautionary accidentals. For example Cantus m4 has a D natural when there is no altered D previously in the part. I would sometimes add a cautionary for a cross-relation in another part, but you didn't add a D natural for m4 in the Altus even though there is a D# just two beats prior. There are lots of different theories and styles of cautionaries, but the lack of consistent application just seems a bit haphazard to me. I would pick a consistent style of application and stick to it.
Accidentals on this so far have mostly been by eye, I haven't really gone through it part-by-part myself (which is my workflow). Your thoughts are noted.
My proofreading eye is just naturally drawn to collisions at this point, and if I have to zoom in to 400% to see that there is actually one pixel of space between the first note and first syllable, that's just too close IMO. Obviously the lyric needs to be close to the system it belongs too, but there are a couple of instances like that where I think a tiny bit of vertical adjustment would be beneficial.
This was to somewhat rectify the issue Florian raised with the lyrics being too far away from some notes. In my mind, having one syllable too close to the note is better than having the rest spaced too far.
Pause or breath marks always go above the staff as to not cause a collision as in your m24, m30, etc. (See Gould 187-189, Ross 208-209)
This line of thinking is contrary to many old engravings I've seen which do exactly this (which is the LP default). There are a few cases where they should possibly be excluded or repositioned, but hardly every single time.

In general, I try to avoid complete deference to a specific set of rules, preferring situational customization to an almost slavish devotion to rulesets. John raised some great points on stemming and slurring by composers against established "conventions" in his threads, and I think much the same logic should be applied to the rest of the score where pertinent.

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Looking for commentary on some of my work

Post by Fred G. Unn » 09 Feb 2017, 05:10

Schonbergian wrote:
09 Feb 2017, 04:07
This line of thinking is contrary to many old engravings I've seen which do exactly this (which is the LP default). There are a few cases where they should possibly be excluded or repositioned, but hardly every single time.

In general, I try to avoid complete deference to a specific set of rules, preferring situational customization to an almost slavish devotion to rulesets. John raised some great points on stemming and slurring by composers against established "conventions" in his threads, and I think much the same logic should be applied to the rest of the score where pertinent.
Perhaps this is an archaic custom, and as I do virtually no paid work on pre-20th century music it's quite possible I am unaware of it, but as one of the golden rules of a copyist is "no collisions" it seems odd to purposefully create a collision there when one is easily avoidable. (A caesura is an exception, but as caesura literally means "cutting" this is quite logical actually.) In addition to Gould and Ross, Roemer pg 23 also dictates its placement outside of the staff. (I don't see this addressed in the other usual suspects.)

If you are creating your own house style for publication, then do as you see fit, but if it is to be submitted to a publisher or other ensembles, I don't see any need to vary from the current established customs here create a collision where one is unnecessary.

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