Here’s an e-mail Prof. Robison sent us regarding our music assignments due on Tuesday. Have I mentioned that he’s one of my favorite professors? It’s between him and the math professor. They’re both so funny.
As promised/threatened, here’s a list of guidelines for the PERFORMING editions of your final projects.
I. Thou shalt emulate the graphic appearance of the scores in thine anthology of variation sets. Thou shalt have no other model. If thou usest notation software, thou shalt not accept its craven default settings, but thou shalt tweak it as needed to make its output match the appearance of the scores in thine anthology. Thou shalt not attempt to excuse inferior layout by saying “but this is what the software does.”
II. Thou shalt leave an empty staff between staff systems, so that the phrasing slurs, pedal marks, low notes, etc. below one left-hand staff do not overlap the phrasing slurs, articulation marks, high notes, etc. above the right-hand staff below it. If thou usest notation software, thou shalt create extra space between staff systems (pursuant to commandment I).
III. Thou shalt write simultaneous notes in strict vertical alignment. That is, if two notes are to be played at the same time, thou shalt not write either to the right of the other, nor to the left of the other; nay, verily, but thou shalt write them one above the other, respecting the convention of the x-axis as a strict map of temporal succession, as has been handed down through the ages.
IV. Thou shalt NOT litter thy performing score with egghead analytical marks such as Roman numerals to indicate chords, bass figures to indicate inversions, or labels of non-chord tones, cadences, keys, etc. For the performer, these represent a distracting nuisance.
V. Thou shalt provide a tempo indication at the beginning of thy theme, and at the beginning of each variation. (If thou canst supply a specific metronome mark, so much the better.)
VI. Thou shalt provide phrasing slurs to clarify thy phrase structures. If thou writest Alberti accompaniment patterns, thou shalt use phrasing slurs to clarify changes of harmony (i.e., one slur per harmony, no more, no fewer).
VII. Thou shalt provide dynamic markings as appropriate. I encourage thee to provide at least one indication of volume level, at the start of the movement, and indicate any changes (cresc., dim.) as desired.
VIII. Thou shalt provide articulation markings as appropriate: staccato dots or strokes, tenuto lines, accents, markings of “fp” or “sfz”. The more expressive indications that thou providest, the more expressive a performance thy composition shall receive.
IX. Thou shalt write beams that are significantly thicker than the lines of thy barlines, and of thy note stems; yea, verily, and thicker too than even the thickest portions of thy phrasing slurs.
X. Thou shalt write strictly vertical barlines. If thou usest a ruler for no other marks on the page, yet the appearance of thy score shall benefit mightily from barlines drawn with a straight edge, perpendicular to the lines of the staff.
If thou hast other… sorry, I mean, If you have other questions about notation, please feel free to e-mail them to me, and I’ll be happy to answer.