Nicest Music Typesetting

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BrianT, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    In my early days of (wind) banding, I remember thinking how nice the Boosey and Hawkes music looked. I can't remember anything specific - it just looked right on the page.

    Seems lots of modern music looks very similar. I wonder if this is a conscious decision to look like everyone else, or is it that no one has the time to explore the engraving options offered by their music setting program?

    Who these days produces the best looking printed music? And what would you have to do to Sibelius to make it produce old B&H-style printout?
  2. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Probably Schotts or Novello. I'm appalled by the standard of some Typesetting in some new band pieces, especially considering that all you have to do is read the Sibelius manual!
  3. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    I've always like Wright & Rounds - not so much the old stuff, but the quality of the recently released stuff has been good - very clear and easy to read.

    Of course, Aldbrickham Music's is pretty good too! :biggrin: ;)
  4. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    As an occasional user of Sibelius I get far beyond my depth into that than my abilities allow without feeling the need to get even fancier, but Lilypond claims great things for it's LOOKS on paper.

    Input is not exactly friendly, but it certainly looks good when you view the .pdf files it has produced, what's more, it is FREE!
  5. winterman

    winterman Member

    Lilypond is by far superior on engraving! As you say it is not the most user friendly package in the world but new WYSIWYG front ends are being developed for it gradually. I do recall somewhere on the net there was a plugin for Sibelius to let you output it to something lilypond could read.

    I much prefer the output from Lilypond, it's just more natural!
  6. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Not sure which type set is used but the print quality and clarity of some recently bought Anglo Music and de Haske is excellent.
  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I'm open to correction, however I understood that W&R use Finale, not Sib.
  8. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    They may well use Finale. Where did I say otherwise? :confused: All I thought I said was that they create nicely typeset music.
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Sorry, didn't make myself clear. I wasn't responding directly to anything you had or hadn't said; I was responding to the apparent assumption evident in other posts that all music publishers use Sibelius. I just quoted your post because you mentioned W&R.

    My fault.

  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Probably you would have to commision someone to design and create a 3rd-party Musicfont that recreated the house engraving style of B & H.

    A while back, CodaMusic (or MakeMusic, as they are now) released a font that shipped with Finale called "Engraver". I don't know if it can be purchased separately, nor whether it is compatible with Sibelius. I never really used it myself, preferring the more modern-looking "Maestro" font, but I seem to remember it offered a more traditional engraved "look", approximating somewhat to the old B&H and R.Smith & Co. engravings.
  11. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I would certainly agree wholeheartedly with the first part of your observation, however i'm afraid the problem may go deeper than that. Rather than the typesetters being insufficiently competent with the notation software, it seems to me more that they are often simply insufficiently educated with regard to the rules, conventions and standards of music notation itself.

    With the demise of traditional hand-engraving of printed music, we have also apparently lost the skills (learned through traditional apprenticeship) and knowledge that go with the engraver's art. Many engravers started out as professional hand-copyists, often working for publishing houses, under the tutelage of experienced arrangers and copyists, learning the "do's and dont's" of correct notation.

    In the days of software notation, be it Sibelius, Finale, Lilypond, Score or whatever, there seems to be an assumption that the programme will do it all for you, and that such in-depth knowledge of notation practice is no longer necessary. There are recognised textbooks on the subject; those by Gardner Read and Ted Ross are probably the best-known, but judging by some of the engraving/typesetting quality in evidence today (especially from smaller independent publishers) I wonder whether the people responsible for originating the music have even heard of them, let alone studied them.

    Many of the errors I see in modern printed music are not so much errors created by incorrect use of the software, but are basic errors of notation. If not, then they are errors caused by inadequate proofing or editing. But if the proofreaders and editors have not served their apprenticeship either, and have not made an adequate study of correct notation, then who is going to correct the errors? Being a competent (or even expert) arranger or composer is not enough when it comes to music publishing.

    [Just give me a minute while I get back down behind the parapet ...]
  12. JR

    JR Member

    Anglo Music looks excellent to me - just the page turning during the A4 (is it?) portrait style scores for Music of the Spheres and Dances and Alleluias - I possibly preferred the Studio landscape versions of longer pieces e.g. Cambridge Variations/Partita
    It gets a bit irritating when you see a score with only 4 or 5 bars per page e.g Journey to the Centre of the Earth

    John R
  13. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I always preferred working with scores in landscape format, for precisely the reason you mention.

    I think in the days when brass band scores were uniformly written with 16 staves plus one for percussion, it was reasonable to produce scores in this format. As time went on, with the advent of separate Rep & Flug staves, then the increasing incidence of separate staves for 1st/2nd Euph, then sometimes divisi solo cornet staves, then sometimes even separate staves for each bass player, added to which we see increasingly complex percussion scores sometimes requiring 4 or 5 staves, it became increasingly difficult to produce scores in landscape at a readable scale. Sometimes nowadays we even see scores with individual staves for every player in the band; it is not surprising that publishers have opted for portrait format instead.

    Bear in mind also that many experienced conductors (and adjudicators) are of a generation where bi-(or vari-)focals are the norm rather than the exception! With Howard Snell's "Images" last year, it apparently proved impossible even to produce a legible score in A4-portrait, and we ended up with an even larger portrait-format score, which was a nightmare to work with.

    Unfortunately, I think we are going to have to get used to frequent page turning. The only alternative would be to adopt even larger-scale A3 landscape scores, but I don't see this happening because it would necessitate considerable costly investment on the part of what are, by and large, small-scale publishing houses. And most conductors stands aren't big enough to hold them anyway ...

    I suppose at the end of the day, conducting from memory is the best solution.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  14. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I use Sibelius for Anglo. But it must be remembered that no computer programme can deliver perfect engraving with its default settings. The best engraving is done by eye (as music is read by eye) and therefore every situation can need a different solution. Computers deliver the same solution every time by using algorithms. So I spend a lot of time tweaking Sibelius to make it look more 'natural'. Nice to be appreciated.

    With reference to landscape scores, these were easy to produce when a brass band score had 17 or 18 staves but are not so useful with a 21/22 stave score as A4 (landscape) too small. Also these scores tend to be spiral bound (not ideal) rather than stitched as a machine that can print two A4 (or larger) pages to fold are hugely expensive.

    I studied music setting for many years and have to say that Lilypond is horrible! Personal opinion to some extent but it does ignore some of the very basic rules of engraving. I wouldn't touch it with a very long barge pole

    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  15. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member


    I couldn't agree with you more.

    Some of the stuff that is coming out of publishing houses these days is worse than awful. The layout, the fonts used, spacing of notes and text, general musical rules, the list could be endless with some.

    I know this thread is about the 'nicest' typesetting but I really cannot recall in recent times any that I can, hand on heart, say they are a real pleasure to look at (not having bought anything from Anglo, though, Philip!!!!!)

    I don't mind admitting that I'm a perfectionist when it comes to music engraving (and I know Philip is too). Every piece of music I typeset is given the minutest attention to detail and when I look at some of the dross that is being produced I despair. (Indeed at my own band I actually refuse to play any music from one particular publisher - and the quality of the typesetting is one reason why ;) ).

    One major bone of contention with me (being a percussionist I suppose) is page turns. When are publishers actually going to think about this seriously?

    I am sure there are many good music typesetting publishers out there - I just don't see the evidence from 'the big boys'.

    And when are publishers going to stop printing music with the the ridiculous two/three-stave short score that is absolutely no use to anyone.

    Sorry, didn't really mean to turn this in to a rant and I think I'll go and join Gareth behind that parapet :D

    And, BTW Gareth, W&R do use Finale (more's the pity;))

  16. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Just had a butchers at Lilypond. Blimey, it looks complicated! But top marks for making it freeware. I've recently started using many free alternatives to the usual software and can't help feeling smug about it!

    Sibelius for me every time!
  17. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Just tried Lilypond.


    Now, if Sibelius made a free version :rolleyes:........
  18. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    ....I'd be very upset because I've just bought version 4 for a lot of money!
  19. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

  20. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    For note spacing Sibelius has a dialog that lists loads of spacing rules. I have played around with note spacing to make march cards (when the default spacing would require a march spread onto a second card). But some of the things you can change seem rather mysterious. I leave well alone.

    Which of the gripes about layout, fonts, note and text spacing, musical rules, page turns is the most important? What would make you consider a score or part to be really beautiful?