Is a score submission appreciated or even necessary

Just wondering what others think about this. 

For me, producing a useful score - one that could be submitted to professional directors/orchestras - is hard work. I start on paper in short score; then move it into a daw. By then most if not all the orchestration has been worked out. Then send a midi file to engraving software when the real trouble starts.

For music I write more for myself than (any hope of) public consumption, there's no need to prepare a score. The chance of public performance by professionals diminishes by the day almost, so I no longer bother. 

However, if likely to post music here it seems a cop-out not also submitting a score. It might be appreciated if asking for criticism or turning up with specific queries.

Trouble is, on a time-line, it can take 10 times as long to edit the engraving than it does composing and setting up the daw.

What do others think? 

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  • I'm interested in music, not scores. Of course to compose, I need to produce a score, otherwise I wouldn't be able to follow what I've done and it can also be helpful to see a score when listening to music from others, although it's by no means invariably necessary. My problem is that there are people who are more interested in scores than music (to me, music is what you hear from the recording, virtual or live performance) and that a discussion of a work could get bogged down in specifics of the notation. Of course there are people who want such feedback and indeed I do also on occasion but on those occasions, I ask for it.

    In summary, the most important thing for me is to get as decently produced a mock-up as possible within the time and budget constraints of the composer, assuming it's not live to begin with. There are also some composers who specifically write for the digital medium and pay no attention to what is practicable for real musicians. I'm not one of these people but have no objections to such an approach.

  • I hardly ever bother to have a look at the score. If the music sounds good, it is good. I make a lot of scores myself, but that's because I write for keyboard players. I don't know what I would do with orchestral music. It's a lot of work.

  • I can sympathise with your issues Ivor. The process from writing music to mock-up has always been a time consuming pain in the butt. I've taken out a part of the process by using Sibelius with a digital pen and piano keyboard input which has become in essence my manuscript phase. For quick sketching, I still have paper on hand (and lots of rubbers - not a euphimism), but I also have staffpad available on the PC which also works well as a sketching tool.  Rather conveniently, I can even split my screen so that I can have the sibelius score and staffpad showing at the same time (staffpad input is via digital  stylus too).

    Working this way allows me to sketch and orchestrate at pretty much the same time, which happens to be the best way to compose for an orchestra anyway so it's a win win imo.  The larger question of necessity for a score can only have one answer for me......yes. 

  • For those who play an instrument, the ratio of time lost creating a viable score is even much more severe. A musical score is essentially an abstract set of instructions, a blueprint, meant to prescribe, with varying layers of granular precision, how to reproduce the aural experience imagined by the composer. I have no issues with someone posting the audio alone. However, for matters of harmonic analysis, or specific voice-leading concerns, an excerpt can always be provided upon request. Of course, for feedback on matters concerning specific contrapuntal techniques, orchestration, or instrumental playability, providing a score is probably well advised.

  • My feeling is that creating a playable score - thus forcing yourself to work, theoretically, within the natural constraints of instruments and their human operators - confers an advantage on the music's realism and quality. Unless your knowledge is deep enough not to require prompting, it can be very easy to write five minutes of unbroken trumpet high notes, or unplayable timpanis, or... whatever. Writing for a nebulous future ensemble restricts you, and as a result your work will probably only improve with the dynamic rise, fall and interplay of sections and instruments working together.

    I don't know if it's pride or workmanship that compels me to only create music with scores, but either way it's made me better.

    • using sampled libraries, by definition all the notes in a score are actually playable -- the question can be whether they are playable at the speed and/or in the combination that's been written. That's of course the tricky part and requires knowledge of the instrument in question or playing safe by not writing anything too virtuosic. The does not in itself necessitate a score, although I certainly find it easier to work with one.


    • I keep it simple. I write what I can play and ensure it's within reach for the average musician too. Once the composition is done, I create the score. Nowadays, since players often need to hear the music first, I also provide a sound file. That's all. I guess I'm old school.

      It's strange, though, that musicians now need to hear the music first. Back in the day, you could go to the shop, spend the whole afternoon immersed in reading scores, and maybe play a piece on the piano if there was one available. Personally, I preferred not to, as there was always someone eager to interrupt with their opinion. I liked to keep to myself and just read the scores.

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