Pencils for music

Plates, sheets, pens, ink, pencils, paper; the tools and techniques of analogue notation.
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Fred G. Unn
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Pencils for music

Post by Fred G. Unn » 06 Oct 2015, 20:09

This is sort of related to OCTO's pencil engraving thread, but I thought I'd start another thread as not to derail his. Has anyone else tried the Palomino Blackwing pencils yet? Apparently they were a favorite of Copland, Bernstein, Sondheim, etc., but were discontinued some time ago. They sort of had a cult following and originals were going for up to $40 a pencil on eBay! Anyway, a couple of years ago the brand was resurrected. I've been using them and quite like them for writing music. The pencil sharpener is pretty neat too, with one sharpener to shave off the wood and another to make the graphite point.

Here's some info and a few links. Maybe I've just bought in to the marketing hype, but they are probably my current favorites for music:
http://palominobrands.com/blackwing-pencil-story/
http://palominobrands.com/blackwing-pop-culture/
http://palominobrands.com/product-category/blackwing/

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OCTO
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by OCTO » 07 Oct 2015, 07:30

I have never hear of them, but for me (freelance composer) $40 is a bit to much.
What is that on the top, I can't see well?

I use "Staedtler" Tradition and Mars Lumograph. Tradition are cheaper than Lumograph, but I find Lumograph to be more solid.
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I use only B variants: B2 for composing, B4/5 for drafting ideas. For me it is important that soft lead, since after many hours I get completely tired with hard pencils, and also I don't need to press in to paper. You can use B5 for drafting, and than go over with ink, so it is easy to erase graphite afterwards.

Sharpener BOSTON, Ranger 55, which is very good and solid. It makes flat top, so that the lead doesn't break.
I use to sharp about 20-30 pencils in the morning. It helps my concentration...

One important thing is eraser, and my favorite is Faber-Castel Dust-Free, which is very good to roll away the dust.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
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billstevens
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by billstevens » 08 Oct 2015, 02:41

I read a book recently, "Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen", which was basically about punctuation and grammar, but there was one chapter about pencils which cost me about $20 when I ordered a box of Blackwings. Those are very soft but very black and wonderful. I recently spent even more money on Pearls which are a little harder but last a bit longer. As to the pencil sharpener, my grandchildren love to come to my house and create wood spirals by sharpening my Palominos. I've had to hide the sharpener so that the pencils don't shrink by about 3 inches every time the little ones come over.

All the children get their own pencils and sharpeners for Christmas this year.

Bill

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OCTO
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by OCTO » 08 Oct 2015, 05:50

billstevens wrote: All the children get their own pencils and sharpeners for Christmas this year.
:D :t :D
billstevens wrote:Those are very soft but very black and wonderful.
Interesting. I always look after a good balance between hardness (B+ only) and quality (that don't break easily).
But I haven't been thinking about the color!

When I compose I use colored paper (similar to Finale or Musescore background) together with not-so-black pencils (see above), and this combinations is good for long composing when your eyes don't need so much contrast.
However, for performance material the blackness is definitely something to pay attention. I will definitely check it out next time I go to shop.
O.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

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David Ward
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by David Ward » 08 Oct 2015, 07:31

I use Staedtler 3B, currently Tradition, although sometimes Lumograph (depending on availability when I order at least 6 dozen &c). I have a substantial supply of left-hand and right-hand A3 paper printed with each of 14, 18, 24 & 28 staves (the difference between left-hand and right-hand pages is in the margins). These are in the usual portrait format, but I also have various landscape sizes which I can combine to make A2 portrait up to 48 staves.

Like OCTO, I routinely sharpen at least 20 pencils at the beginning of my working day.

More, and maybe some pictures later.

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Snorlax
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by Snorlax » 08 Oct 2015, 14:49

Hi, all...

Harvey Phillips told me that a great deal of the "hurry-up" pencil work in NYC in the '50s and '60s was done using a Scripto K780 mechanical pencil and a dark lead.
He showed me several examples of his parts (maybe Sauter-Finegan IIRC) that were done using the K780 and had a collection of K780s himself.

The K780 was unique for its screw top mechanism for advancing the lead--before the days of "clickable" mechanical pencils--and for its rather thick 1.1 mm lead.

Image

Jim Williams

N. Grossingink
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by N. Grossingink » 08 Oct 2015, 17:48

Snorlax wrote:Hi, all...

Harvey Phillips told me that a great deal of the "hurry-up" pencil work in NYC in the '50s and '60s was done using a Scripto K780 mechanical pencil and a dark lead.
He showed me several examples of his parts (maybe Sauter-Finegan IIRC) that were done using the K780 and had a collection of K780s himself.

The K780 was unique for its screw top mechanism for advancing the lead--before the days of "clickable" mechanical pencils--and for its rather thick 1.1 mm lead.

Image

Jim Williams
Ha ha!! I remember those Scriptos! I was advancing through elementary school in the early 1960s and had a few of those myself.

If I remember correctly, whenever you inserted a new lead (3-4 inch rod), you had to press the tip on a hard surface in order to seat the other end into some sort of a clamp inside the pencil, otherwise the lead rod would just fall out. Seems I remember the screw lead advance mechanicals wouldn't last all that long before jamming up.

N.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Oct 2015, 22:30

I use whatever pencil comes to hand, but unfortunately, it never has any eraser left on it. So for me, the perfect pencil would have an eraser than lasted as long as the pencil. I haven't found one yet, maybe because I make so many mistakes.
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David Ward
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by David Ward » 09 Oct 2015, 09:23

OCTO wrote:One important thing is eraser, and my favorite is Faber-Castel Dust-Free, which is very good to roll away the dust.
Thanks for the tip. I've just ordered 8 (4x2) Faber-Castel Dust-Free on-line. An efficient and clean eraser is crucial. (When I was at school, long ago, we referred to erasers as 'India rubbers', but I'm not sure why.)

Peter West
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Re: Pencils for music

Post by Peter West » 13 Oct 2015, 12:47

It is very useful to have a pencil that is non reprographic, that is to say, doesn't show up on photocopies. Faber Castell make a non reprographic 0.3 mm "lead" for automatic pencils. Alternatively a light blue colouring pencil will work if used lightly. These are vey useful for drawing alignment lines that you don't want to see on photocopies.
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