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Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 05 Oct 2015, 13:34
I wonder if anyone can recommend the spacing technique for manual engraving, using pencil and paper.
What I wonder is how to properly space heavy and light density. How is the calculation made? And how it is decided how many measures per system would fit?

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 06 Oct 2015, 10:35
by Vaughan
Isn't this one of those things you study for years to be able to master? There was an interesting film documentary about hand-engraving at Henle. This was one of the topics discussed and it certainly isn't simple and it takes a lot of practice and experience.

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 06 Oct 2015, 12:42
I have in front of me the score of Bent Sørensen's Violin Concerto. It is a handwritten score with numerous details and sometimes very dense. The composer uses even different staff sizes. I try to understand how he proceeded to make such decisions, how to calculate number of beats which would fit the staff size, and how the spacing ratios are calculated.

Why I am interested in it?
1. Because I use to compose and notate by hand.
2. Because it is important for me to understand how layout is made, and even if it is done in a notation software, I want to take control of it.

Here is a sample page from MusicRoom (first page, not so dense here).

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 06 Oct 2015, 19:58
by Fred G. Unn
I'd have to measure, but at first glance it appears all the 2/4 bars are almost all the same width. Just a guess, but I bet he used a ruler, drew in all the barlines first, giving the 2/4 bars approximately the same width and the 3/4 proportionally more, and then went back and filled in the music. The third measure is actually quite crowded, too crowded to my eye anyway. I would imagine any notation software would give that measure more, and the fourth bar less for example, but as he had already drawn the barlines first, he made it fit.

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 07 Oct 2015, 11:19
Seems to be like that, Fred.

I just wonder how he calculated how many measures/beats would fit per page. For me it seems to be the most problematic.
- finding the most dense beat
- knowing your smallest item distance (notes with accidentals)
- mapping that in to the raster
- rasterizing the page
- entering measures, notes
- when done, erase the raster

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 07 Oct 2015, 17:36
by John Ruggero
I doubt seriously that he went through any elaborate calculations of a type possible with a computer. A hand-made score is not held to the same engraving standards as an engraved score.

He probably did it just as we used to do pen and ink parts: by pure instinct. You look ahead to see how many of the upcoming measures will fit on the first line comfortably, copy the first measure, then the second etc. constantly judging that you are leaving enough room for the rest of the measures on the line. If you find that you have miscalculated, you spread or contract the following measures a little to make it work out right. You proceed in this fashion until you are getting close to the end of the movement and make sure that you have enough music to fill out a complete line at the end.

There is also the possibility that he laid out the bar lines for the entire score first, in a similar fashion: by estimating, and then filled in the notes. That is a little riskier, because you might run into crowding issues, which I guess he did.

I have left out the page turns, because that is not a factor with a score. But obviously, with a part, you must be sure that there are sufficient rests at the end of certain pages. This is easily dealt with, as with a computer generated score, by doing a little initial planning.

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 10 Oct 2015, 08:05
Thanks Fred and John.

If you would do it manually, the page above, how would calculating process look like?
If we want to extend these :1 and compress somewhere else, what would be the ratio and how can it be done (by rastering???...)?

What I do is following: I know what is the smallest distance between notes with accidentas in a given staff size. Than I know what is the smallest value. Let us say a triplet of :2 . Than I make a plastic raster of one :4 (= six pieces of :2 ) and than just use *2 for :5 , *4 for :6 and so on.
And this is just for composing, not for final, performance scores.

It is therefore not a good ratio. :6 has doubled space of :4 and so on. So I am interested in the true engraving process.

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 10 Oct 2015, 12:55
by John Ruggero
Hand copying was all done "by eye". No calculating or measuring. So it was more like a piece of visual art, than a technical diagram. I think many hand copyists had a strong visual art talent as well as being musicians; this is what drew (no pun intended) them to this field.

Re: Pencil engraving - scores

Posted: 10 Oct 2015, 14:46
by John Ruggero
For a score, the most active part would have been "eye-balled" in first and then the other parts line up against it with a ruler.

Incidentally, in our hand copying, a ruler was used only for beams, bar lines, and for the kind of lining up that I just mentioned. There was also transparent staff paper that a kind of grid on it in blue that wouldn't print. This was often used by autographers, who were imitating engraving with notaset decals and drafting equipment. it was rarely used by hand copyists, which shows how little attention was paid to matters of exact proportion.