Whether to replace manuscript parts?

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David Ward
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Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by David Ward » 05 Mar 2016, 08:24

At a rehearsal earlier this week of a string quartet of mine using my own hand copied parts from 1994/5, I offered the performers the possibility of my preparing typeset ones (in Finale). The reaction was: “Oh no, we like to use the ones we have.” They went on to say that many typeset parts, including from major publishers, were not as easy to use as my MS ones.

What to make of this? Should I prepare typeset ones anyway (easier to archive, surely)?

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David Ward
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by David Ward » 05 Mar 2016, 10:07

A further comment on archiving - there is a lesson from this, I think.

A little over a month ago, one member of the quartet mentioned above who prefer my MS parts, temporarily mislaid his part (it happens) when it was needed in London by the quartet. I was asked if I had a PDF I might e-mail. I didn't. I asked the publisher, but because of various internet problems and travel, it couldn't be organized from there in time. Mercifully, it turned out that the Scottish Music Centre had a copy of the parts in their archive and were able to scan it and e-mail a PDF, albeit with some delay, as the SMC is in Glasgow but their archive is stored near Edinburgh.

These things happen, but having PDFs of everything in cloudland might help.

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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by erelievonen » 05 Mar 2016, 15:32

If hand-written parts are well made and perfectly legible, I don't see any reason to re-typeset them just for the sake of having them typeset. Having seen some bits of your manuscripts, David, I dare presume this is exactly the case and that redoing them is not worth the trouble. Re-typesetting them would only introduce the risk of new mistakes. It would be useful, however, to make good scans of the hand-written parts as PDFs. Scanning them surely takes less effort than re-typesetting everything, and once that's done, archiving them is no more difficult that archiving typeset materials.

Regardless of the above: Most musicians just don't want to change the score/part they're playing from, once they have studied a piece using a particular edition/manuscript. Especially so if they've written any fingerings or other markings to their first score. This seems to be true even when the other alternative would be better or more legible. Only if they have really serious problems with reading a particular score/part, would they want to change it for another. At least this is my experience with other musicians.

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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by MJCube » 05 Mar 2016, 20:05

Precisely what I was going to say. Musicians would rather keep a part they’ve already been reading than switch to a new one, even if it’s superior and beautiful and error-free, simply because they would have to read it all over again.

And, as we have discussed in another thread, just as with typesetting of words, there is a great deal of subtlety in mechanizing the presentation of what was originally handwritten material. And text typesetting is a couple of centuries ahead of music typesetting in refinement and maturity. When it’s for publication I spend a significant portion of effort on the “feel of the page” in Sibelius.

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OCTO
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by OCTO » 06 Mar 2016, 07:43

David, you have a very beautiful hand style, you can definitely keep the old parts.
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David Ward
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by David Ward » 06 Mar 2016, 08:22

Thank you all for your comments.

I'll see if I can get everything that still exists only in photocopies of my manuscripts reliably scanned to archive as PDFs.

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OCTO
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by OCTO » 06 Mar 2016, 12:05

A very good way to archive manuscripts is:
- to scan them in the high resolution
- to convert scans to Black-White
- to convert Black-White to vector graphics (a good alternative SVG, EPS).
- Make PDF from vector graphics.

Having this, your print will be very clear, and any zoom will work very good.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by John Ruggero » 07 Mar 2016, 23:40

And hand copied parts by the composer communicate all of the unconscious information that is lost in the engraving process.
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OCTO
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Re: RE: Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by OCTO » 08 Mar 2016, 06:26

John Ruggero wrote:And hand copied parts by the composer communicate all of the unconscious information that is lost in the engraving process.
I agree and disagree at the same time.
A perfect computer engraved score can be very beautiful. One can compare beautiful handwritten scores of Takemitsu and beautifully computer engraved scores of him.

If I have had INFINITE time to adjust my scores, tweaking settings, fonts, etc. I would probably end up only with the digital tools.
Or infinite amount of money.
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Re: Whether to replace manuscript parts?

Post by MJCube » 08 Mar 2016, 14:30

In my experience, making digital pages as fine and beautiful as the best plate engravings doesn’t require a lifetime; but it does take considerably more time than business schedules usually allow. I suspect the personal satisfaction of making (or we could say contributing to) fine art has always been a large factor for the best music copyists in whatever medium. If not exactly a labor of love, at least an extraordinary dedication to craft.

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