Category: Chart Doctor (Archive)

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Power Resting

Years ago, I had a comedy album (album? Better make that decades ago…) by Bill Cosby called, “Why Is There Air?” In one of his standup routines, he described his frustration during his college years at having a girlfriend who was a philosophy major, versus his more pedestrian one in physical education. She would constantly […]

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Trap Set Notation Basics: Give Your Drummer A Break

Ah, drummers. ‘Twould be a dull world without ’em. And the way they can be mistreated or neglected by composers, it’s a wonder we have them at all. Frequently and notationally, they are given the shortest shrift and yet are expected to be the most dominant force in the ensemble. Let’s look at ways to […]

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Score No-No’s, Episode 2

Remember our previous discussion on what not to do when prepping scores? The topic apparently struck a nerve, so let’s keep digging. Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. The full text of this article is now available in the updated and expanded eBook “The Chart Doctor: Volume 1″ available from The Film Music […]

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Conduct Yourself Accordingly, Part 3: Podium Strategy

In past columns we’ve looked at honing your conducting technique, a good topic which we’ll certainly get back to in the future. However, on occasion I’ve seen some incredible technicians mount the podium and go on to blow the session because of poor or absent strategy for what should be priority uno: getting the job […]

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Finale: Dealing With The Score/Parts Link

One of the most revolutionary features (for MakeMusic) in contemporary Finale is the active linking of score and parts, quite a leap from the old days of extraction, extensive tweaking, and printing. While any new order can stumble initially, smart users should look for ways to keep working during transitions. While Finale 2008 is not […]

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Score No-Nos, Part 1 of ?

On the theory that it’s sometimes more instructive to learn by example of what not to do, context usually being paramount, we need to have a few discussions of practical mistakes often made by score preparers. In going over my archive of past scores with which I’ve had to deal, I found much to draw […]

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Harp Notation Basics

One of the most useful, and yet least understood, instruments in your orchestral colors is the modern harp. As a composer (or orchestrator working for a composer) remember my dictum to do all in your power to help your players shoot for a perfect read-through? Along those lines, you owe it to yourself or your […]

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Finding and Working With A Quality Orchestrator

In past columns, we’ve examined how you, the composer, approach recruiting the various members of your production team. Arguably the most complex hiring decision involves your orchestrator. When music became an industry, orchestration sprang into being as a distinct, but necessary, specialty, allowing the composer to produce more material in less time. It’s strange, but […]

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The Devil (and The Salvation) Is In The Details

Consider the following scenario: Beethoven (the composer, not the dog) walks into the recording studio and drops his score and parts onto the incredulous librarian’s lap and proceeds to the corner where the conductor is standing. The buzz in the room rises as the parts are passed out, revealing that they are to record a […]

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From Actuality To Immortality

How often do you think about an afterlife for your music? Not from the angle of yet-to-be-invented audio formats, speaker design, or 3-dimensional solid storage media. I mean the written and tangible form we call sheet music which permits future performances. After all, your true audience may not even have been born yet! Shouldn’t your […]

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On Being A Lifesaver

Last week, we looked at why you need a score supervisor, and how to find a good one. But suppose a colleague asks you to play the role yourself? Or suppose that colleague is you? Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. The full text of this article is now available in the updated […]

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Hiring A Lifesaver

Let’s assume you’ve got your session date, venue, supervising orchestrator, score proofreader, supervising copyist, conductor, contractor/ supervisor and engineer lined up. Unless you are an “A-lister” already, chances are you will be fulfilling one or more of these jobs yourself, once the score is written. You might be conducting or contracting the orchestra or possibly […]

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Don’t Get Caught In A Bind

Having last week explored phase one of quality sheet music production, let’s now tackle the chores still remaining: binding the score and parts in such a way so as to prevent noisy page turns and exploding scores. Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. The full text of this article is now available in […]

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Professional And Affordable Score And Part Printing

For the next couple of weeks, let’s assume that you’ll be the copyist on your project. Part of music prep is the organized reproduction and binding of all scores and parts in such a way as to be easily sight-read with silent page turns. Traditionally, most well-run and -financed copying houses had a healthy investment […]

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Takedowns: They’re Not Just For Wrestlers

Sooner or later in your career, you will be asked to transcribe something from audio alone, a task called a “takedown.” Most of you cringe at the prospect, but you really shouldn’t. Work is work. Only in this case, it also pays dividends beyond the paycheck that can go on for the rest of your […]

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Do You Know Any Standards?

It’s a common question when hiring sidemen. It’s meant to find out whether the questionee knows by heart a collection of tunes which have become recognized, accepted, and appreciated by other players and the audiences who foot the bills. It’s a good one in the notation game too, referring to practices which have come to […]

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Conduct Yourself Accordingly Part 2: Let Your Gestures Do The Talking

A few weeks ago, we examined ways to improve your stick technique as a conductor. Remember, your job is to find ways both to hold your players’ attention and to control their action and style to suit the demands of the music while using the least studio time. Let’s look at a few more. Thanks […]

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Four Steps To A Perfect Score

Some weeks ago we touched on the production team members necessary for the efficient, professional recording of your score. One of these has the power, possibly greater than any of the others, to save valuable time. Remember Hess’ Law of Score Prep Numero Uno? Repeat after me: The PITA (translate: “pain-in-the-ass”) factor in going from […]

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Conduct Yourself Accordingly Part 1: Improve Your Technique

Recently, we discussed the topic of evaluating and hiring a potential conductor for your instrumental session. Now let’s look at the possible situation where, by dint of budget or the nature of the music you are writing, you have decided to conduct the session(s) yourself. Let’s also assume you may have had some podium time […]

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Music Prep Strategies, Part 2: Help Your Players Help You

Nothing irritates a session player more than incompetent orchestration, except perhaps incompetent notation of really good orchestration. Remember, your mandate in chart-land is to deliver parts that can be perfectly sight-read without either questions or excuses. Last time we looked into some page-layout strategies to make your parts easier to sight-read. This time let’s take […]

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Music Prep Strategies, Part 1: Help Your Players Help You

Let’s assume you compose in a notation program, and use most or all of its features in something approaching an efficient manner. Feel up to doing your own music prep? There’s a reason that an experienced, professional copyist is a valuable member of the production team: hiring one, or learning to think like one when […]

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Finding And Working With Your Conductor

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed your essential teammates in your production chain (Who’s On Your Team? June 19, 2007). Let’s assume now that you have decided to hire a conductor rather than do it yourself, but could use some guidance in finding a good one. Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. […]

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Fun With Finale, Part 1

Last week, I introduced you to your indispensable musical colleagues in the realization of your score (“Who’s On Your Team?” June 19, 2007). In future columns, I’ll take a closer look at each, both from the standpoint of hiring each and successfully doing the job(s) yourself. In response to one of your emails, the reason […]

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Who’s On Your Team?

Congratulations! From that phone call you just received, you are now a professional composer with a lot of printed music to produce. Even if it’s not for the first time, you now have two posteriors to save, yours and your client’s. You’re now responsible for a production chain requiring a team of professionals, each wearing […]

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