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#1739404 - 08/24/11 12:53 AM Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript????
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Hello everyone!
I would like to find out from you all if anyone here composes by hand. I have always written my compositions by hand and I think it is a far better way of composing for the following reasons:
1. Developing your inner ear and being able to hear the composition in your head
2. Far more freedom in what you can do e.g. Graphic notation, complex polyrhythms
3. It's cheaper
4.I find it quicker.
None of the 120 something compositions I have written (I have been composing for almost four years now) were written entirely on Sibelius or Finale or whatever.
This post i'm writing isn't saying that notation software is bad, cos I think that they can be great for making parts and scores, but I think that everyone would benefit from using the good old fashioned quill and parchment (or pencil and paper) from time to time.


Edited by Froglegs (08/24/11 12:57 AM)
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"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1739428 - 08/24/11 01:38 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
I certainly do. When the piece is finished (apart from small details) I prepare the score with Finale, just as I used to do with pen and ink smile 40 years ago. I'm also not saying one method is better than another - but although writing out a piece with pen and ink was kind of fun, Finale is much easier to correct!!
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#1739432 - 08/24/11 01:42 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
I certainly use manuscript and pencil and rubber when composing, but for the finished product (score) I will always input everything to Finale!

I don't think I've ever composed straight into Finale! I find it impossible, even though I compose for computer games as well. I do compose straight into Cubase, but while playing the midi keyboard, or using loops, not scoring notation.
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#1739505 - 08/24/11 07:30 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Glad to see that people still do. I attend composition workshops sometimes and I usually am disappointed with the amount of people that compose straight on to the computer.
_________________________
"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1739508 - 08/24/11 07:35 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Hello everyone!
I would like to find out from you all if anyone here composes by hand. I have always written my compositions by hand and I think it is a far better way of composing for the following reasons:
1. Developing your inner ear and being able to hear the composition in your head
2. Far more freedom in what you can do e.g. Graphic notation, complex polyrhythms
3. It's cheaper
4.I find it quicker.
None of the 120 something compositions I have written (I have been composing for almost four years now) were written entirely on Sibelius or Finale or whatever.
This post i'm writing isn't saying that notation software is bad, cos I think that they can be great for making parts and scores, but I think that everyone would benefit from using the good old fashioned quill and parchment (or pencil and paper) from time to time.


Well, "cheaper" falls over if you already own Finale/Sibelius. But, yes, there's still plenty of pencils, erasers and paper here. Whatever floats your boat.

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#1739559 - 08/24/11 09:37 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Glad to see that people still do. I attend composition workshops sometimes and I usually am disappointed with the amount of people that compose straight on to the computer.


Why? I take my little laptop to workshops, etc. It takes no more room on a desktop than a sheet of paper, and is nearly silent in operation.

So why should it bother you how I choose to work?

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#1739579 - 08/24/11 10:35 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Glad to see that people still do. I attend composition workshops sometimes and I usually am disappointed with the amount of people that compose straight on to the computer.


Why disappointed? Paper and pencil is good. Computer is good. Judge the result, not the tools.

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#1739651 - 08/24/11 12:15 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
Maybe it's a generational issue. I thought I would never be using the computer in my lifetime....ha! Even so, I always start with manuscript and pencil. I make the erasing part easier by not writing down anything until my ear likes it. I know I could be faster with the computer and possibly more creative. I just prefer to stick with the 'old-way'.
rada

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#1739675 - 08/24/11 12:40 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
With a pencil and plenty of papers and eraser you can not only erase but keep copies around, make drafts, use the computer for algorithmic processes, rather than notating, and other...

I don't think I'll ever be able to work straight on Finale! (As I said Cubase is different).
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http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1739834 - 08/24/11 04:29 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Listen to Nikolas


Edited by Froglegs (08/24/11 06:20 PM)
_________________________
"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1739859 - 08/24/11 05:05 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
MadForBrad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/11
Posts: 202
Loc: LA / Montreal
most schools force you to learn by hand first. I forged a doctors note saying I had wrist pain so I was allowed to use sibelius. Made my intro orchestration class a breeze. But i do have awful handwriting. I mean I cannot draw a straight line. Not sure if I have early signs of some dopamine based neurological disorder but my hands vibrate. I'm also left handed so anything I write just ends up a jumbled mess.

One thing doing it by hand does teach you is notation which despite the advances sibelius is not quite up to par yet. I still refered to my notation reference when I did the class using Sibelius as the program is not to be relied on for correct notation that does not require user fixing.


Edited by MadForBrad (08/24/11 05:08 PM)

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#1740124 - 08/25/11 12:04 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I use both. At the end of the day you can use whatever you prefer and inspires you more. smile
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Music is my best friend.


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#1740148 - 08/25/11 01:20 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Steve712 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/10
Posts: 166
Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
I always work everything out by hand, then I notate the finished product on the computer.

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#1740571 - 08/25/11 07:26 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
J Cortese Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Both. I've written entire pieces with pencil and paper, and others with Musescore, and still others with pencil and paper until I got a laptop with Musescore, and then continued on the computer.

I'm not interested in listening to anyone's opinion on what tool to use. I'd rather listen to the music they create with said tool, and if that music is good, I don't care if they peed it in the snow or scribbled it on the bathroom ceiling with a crayon.
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#1740822 - 08/26/11 06:15 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: J Cortese]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: west coast island, canada
Originally Posted By: J Cortese
I'm not interested in listening to anyone's opinion on what tool to use. I'd rather listen to the music they create with said tool, and if that music is good, I don't care if they peed it in the snow or scribbled it on the bathroom ceiling with a crayon.


How about playing it on the piano?
This is after all a piano forum.

However one composes for piano and the process involved ,
whether pencil, paper, program, projection, planning...
improvisation, inspiration, imagination, intuition, intention.

There's no substitute for playing
piano passionately.

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#1740825 - 08/26/11 06:21 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Dara]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Dara
There's no substitute for playing
piano passionately.


As long as the passion is added to accuracy and sense/knowledge of style!

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#1740827 - 08/26/11 06:30 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: west coast island, canada
How about having some passion for whatever one is doing
and building skills, knowledge, learning, accuracy, attention ... ongoing.

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#1740831 - 08/26/11 06:41 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Dara]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Dara
How about having some passion for whatever one is doing
and building skills, knowledge, learning, accuracy, attention ... ongoing.


I see you agree with me!

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#1740832 - 08/26/11 06:42 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: west coast island, canada
smile

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#1742446 - 08/29/11 04:41 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Listen to Nikolas


Yes, and I respect his view.

But I'm still waiting for you to explain why it matters to you how I choose to work.

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#1742449 - 08/29/11 04:46 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: kevinb]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Listen to Nikolas


Yes, and I respect his view.

But I'm still waiting for you to explain why it matters to you how I choose to work.
Same here. The respect is mutual... and I'm still a bit puzzled why you should listen to me, to be honest! :P

And to be further honest, I'm still waiting to know why someone would be bothered by the tools someone uses, instead be concerned (if so) to the final output... ???
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#1742453 - 08/29/11 05:27 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
Jolteon Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 526
Loc: Perth, Australia
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And to be further honest, I'm still waiting to know why someone would be bothered by the tools someone uses, instead be concerned (if so) to the final output... ???


Try doing high school english class! :P
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Algernon: I hope, Cecily, I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection.

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#1742547 - 08/29/11 10:57 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Listen to Nikolas


Yes, and I respect his view.

But I'm still waiting for you to explain why it matters to you how I choose to work.
Same here. The respect is mutual... and I'm still a bit puzzled why you should listen to me, to be honest! :P

And to be further honest, I'm still waiting to know why someone would be bothered by the tools someone uses, instead be concerned (if so) to the final output... ???


My guess is that froglegs is wanting to know what others think of manuscript vs.computer input software. However, that's my view. (I also use manuscript for composing).
I'll let froglegs answer for himself, but in doing so, I have added my view smile

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#1742568 - 08/29/11 11:25 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Oriol Barcelona Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Spain
I definetely use manuscript. Once I'm done, I just engrave it to my comp in finale format.
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OLC Barcelona Sheet Music
I offer some free known piano scores in my website.
I also have some very easy / easy piano arrangements and orchestral reductions.
My Youtube Music Channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/olopcall
Oriol - Arranger/Composer


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#1742603 - 08/29/11 12:51 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2728
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
I've experimented with both. I find I'm more creative at a piano, next choice would be my music DAW, last choice is my Finale machine. When I'm at the piano I'm imagining and hearing the music in my head. Typically at my DAW I'm working off scribbled notes and playing on a digital piano in the same room. My Finale machine is far from any instrument and I personally need the feedback from an instrument.

Like the others I don't care what vehicle someone uses to compose music. In the past those of us who compose at the piano have been denigrated as needing a crutch. I frankly don't get it. I'd much rather hear the result of efforts and decide if I like what I hear, after all that's how I compose.

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#1742671 - 08/29/11 02:47 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Steve Chandler]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
In the past those of us who compose at the piano have been denigrated as needing a crutch. I frankly don't get it. I'd much rather hear the result of efforts and decide if I like what I hear, after all that's how I compose.


The problem I have with this approach is that I tend to get carried away playing, and don't get anything written down. Sometimes I'll figure out how I want a few bars to sound, and then I'll think about what comes next, and then what comes next... before I know it, I've forgotten what I started with. It can be fun but, for me, it doesn't work out very productive.

The advantage of working on computer _or_ on paper is that you've got a permanent record from the start. I suppose I could use a MIDI keyboard and record all my 'doodles'. That way, if I forget what I started with, I could still go back and find it. I guess I could do the same at the piano with an audio recorder, but then I've still got to transcibe from the audio.

FWIW I think we all ought to try all the different ways there are of writing music, and see what works best. The problem is that giving each method a fair crack of the whip takes months. It took me months -- many, many months -- to get to where I could enter music into Sibelius faster than writing it out on paper. But now I have, I can't imagine going back to paper.

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#1742759 - 08/29/11 05:35 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Steve Chandler]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Like the others I don't care what vehicle someone uses to compose music. In the past those of us who compose at the piano have been denigrated as needing a crutch. I frankly don't get it. I'd much rather hear the result of efforts and decide if I like what I hear, after all that's how I compose.
For me it's not about a 'crutch', but rather the fact that my hands (as a pianist) and my outer ears (as a listener) are accustomed to certain types of music and aesthetics! And I want out!
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http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1742788 - 08/29/11 06:23 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: west coast island, canada
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And I want out!


Not quite sure what you mean by that Nikolas, but I do recall you liking Radiohead. Thom Yorke is one of my favorites in contemporary/alternative genre of music. Amazing artist.

i thought this piece (and title) appropriate with your comment above. Great version of this piece.



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#1742953 - 08/29/11 11:37 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Dara: I meant that I want to break out of my own habbits (as a pianist and as a listener). Of course on closer inspection such an effort usually leads to a more 'intellectual' type of music... :-/ And thanks for the video. I agree it's a great live version of this work! Are they not wonderful? (PS. It's so nice to see them working with scores! laugh It's not something you usually see in a live rock concert, but then again it's quite difficult to pin down Radiohead as "rock").
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#1743163 - 08/30/11 10:48 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2728
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Dara: I meant that I want to break out of my own habits (as a pianist and as a listener). Of course on closer inspection such an effort usually leads to a more 'intellectual' type of music... :-/

As a not necessarily good pianist that's why I like writing at the piano. Every mistake leads in a new direction. Nikolas you just have to start listening to your mistakes. To be serious for a moment you've already realized the problem, the solution comes in exploring with your inner ear. Of course if that's too ingrained in your habits then perhaps listening to mistakes is a good idea.

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#1743277 - 08/30/11 02:22 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Steve: Yes, I know! wink I hope that I'm going in the right direction balancing 'intellectual' and 'commercial' music. This is why I keep a dual personality in my composing efforts (concert hall AND computer games music! grin).

Honestly it's quite helpful, and for a 3 year period I didn't have a midi keyboard in my studio, so I was working with the mouse alone! (And manuscript and pencil of course).
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1743444 - 08/30/11 07:57 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
Froglegs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Nikolas

Honestly it's quite helpful, and for a 3 year period I didn't have a midi keyboard in my studio, so I was working with the mouse alone! (And manuscript and pencil of course).


Manuscript and pencils are very reliable tools.
_________________________
"There is nothing greater than the joy of composing something oneself and then listening to it."
- Clara Schumann

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#1743468 - 08/30/11 08:49 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Nikolas]
MadForBrad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/11
Posts: 202
Loc: LA / Montreal
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Like the others I don't care what vehicle someone uses to compose music. In the past those of us who compose at the piano have been denigrated as needing a crutch. I frankly don't get it. I'd much rather hear the result of efforts and decide if I like what I hear, after all that's how I compose.
For me it's not about a 'crutch', but rather the fact that my hands (as a pianist) and my outer ears (as a listener) are accustomed to certain types of music and aesthetics! And I want out!


I think when people talk about piano being a crutch, there are two things to consider. First of all, the aesthetic of the instrument will subconsciously dictate your composition process. Also, the ability to internalize the entire process, that is to say the ability to hear something in your head and not need a piano to verify the notes, your workflow will be extremely fasts.

That is how beethoven was able to compose deaf. There is a certain point where you know how things will sound. Piano also does not quite translate in terms of orchestration. That is only learned thru trial and error and also listening to orchestras live with your sccre. That is the one thing you can notice with beethoven as he got deaf. Some of the orchestration was not quite there. Lots of conductors will amend the scores.

I think the piano is a great tool. I definitely like to play and improvise when coming up with themes. But when I have my themes and i'm sort of constructing the work, a piano isn't really needed. Nor do I use the sounds on sibelius as they just are not realistic and probably more missleading that anything. You use your internal compass because you know. You know how many horns you need to match a certain wind configuration without having to get an orchestra to play it.

There is the unfortunate standard of having a mockup for producers and directors ( film biz ) so eventually, you are forced to resort to samples to give an indication but again , your mock up isn't necessarily your actual score for orchestra. Mockups don't need to be accurate. For example , homophonic horns can just be played as chords with a program like Symphobia and you don't really have to voice each instrument because the director won't notice and the producer , well the producer , well lets not talk about producers.

The trend in the film industry is sort of sad in that most of the composers will give you a midi export of them playing piano and then notes. It is rare to even get the theme notated. I have worked as an orchestrator for a few blockbuster films with very well known composers and your don't get that much information. You have a team to work with but the composer in many instances wears the hat of the producer more often that the composer. I understand why and it isn't really a weakness of composers but rather a time issue.

You get a piano with the theme and it is rather obvious what the theme is as this is hollywood. Then you have some notes, you know the overall vibe the composer is going for and the type of instruments that will be playing but there is alot that an orchestrator will have to do. I mean often, you get the theme , instructions are , make this theme last 3 minutes. and then energetic underlined.

I was an assistant so i still had someone that would oversee the work I did so I had some sort of help but i've been on my own for a few projects and you need to understand the composer's aesthetic and you just go for it. You have backup solutions.

sort of off topic but it is a fascinating industry. Not quite as fascinating as the days of Steiner. Now that was interesting.


Edited by MadForBrad (08/30/11 09:00 PM)

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#1743586 - 08/31/11 01:22 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Originally Posted By: Nikolas

Honestly it's quite helpful, and for a 3 year period I didn't have a midi keyboard in my studio, so I was working with the mouse alone! (And manuscript and pencil of course).


Manuscript and pencils are very reliable tools.
True, but not when you have to deliver several finished music track and the deadline is running... :-/ Too slow in that case. And what MadforBrad says...
_________________________
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#1743712 - 08/31/11 09:25 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: MadForBrad]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2728
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: MadForBrad
That is how beethoven was able to compose deaf. There is a certain point where you know how things will sound.
I agree with most of what you've said, except this. If you've read Thayer's Life of Beethoven you know his neighbors complained about loud banging on the piano at all hours as well as singing. Beethoven kept a ruler by his piano by clenching the ruler in his teeth and touching the body of his piano it would transmit the sound into his skull bypassing the parts of his ears that were the problem. So even late in life Beethoven composed at the piano.

As for the importance of knowing from experience how things will sound I agree with you there. I have no problem hearing melodies in my head and notating them, it's when determining complex harmony and counterpoint that the piano becomes important for me.


Edited by Steve Chandler (08/31/11 09:26 AM)

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#1743755 - 08/31/11 10:39 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Steve Chandler]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler

As for the importance of knowing from experience how things will sound I agree with you there. I have no problem hearing melodies in my head and notating them, it's when determining complex harmony and counterpoint that the piano becomes important for me.


That's where Sibelius becomes important for me smile

I can follow a melody, or a sequence of chords, without needing to hear it played. But I'm notwhere near being able to do that with counterpoint.

And although, as MadForBrad says, Sibelius is not particularly accurate for orchestration, it's a heck of a lot more accurate than blind chance. Since I rarely write for anything bigger than a trio, orchestration tends to be a matter of blind chance for me on the rare occasions I have had to attempt it.

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#1743919 - 08/31/11 03:54 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
AnonymousInvention Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 142
Loc: Florida
Yes. For notes when I'm playing and get an idea. Then I use Sibelius.
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#1744258 - 09/01/11 02:39 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Steve Chandler]
MadForBrad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/11
Posts: 202
Loc: LA / Montreal
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
Originally Posted By: MadForBrad
That is how beethoven was able to compose deaf. There is a certain point where you know how things will sound.
I agree with most of what you've said, except this. If you've read Thayer's Life of Beethoven you know his neighbors complained about loud banging on the piano at all hours as well as singing. Beethoven kept a ruler by his piano by clenching the ruler in his teeth and touching the body of his piano it would transmit the sound into his skull bypassing the parts of his ears that were the problem. So even late in life Beethoven composed at the piano.

As for the importance of knowing from experience how things will sound I agree with you there. I have no problem hearing melodies in my head and notating them, it's when determining complex harmony and counterpoint that the piano becomes important for me.


yes but was it really part of his workflow or desperate attempts to hear. I doubt it was how he spent all of his time when composing.

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#1744259 - 09/01/11 02:45 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
I think I read somewhere (in PW perhaps) that Beethoven was never fully deaf... Not sure though...
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#1744303 - 09/01/11 05:59 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Steve Chandler]
Froglegs Offline
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Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: MadForBrad

As for the importance of knowing from experience how things will sound I agree with you there. I have no problem hearing melodies in my head and notating them, it's when determining complex harmony and counterpoint that the piano becomes important for me.

I never have problems with tearing counterpoint in my head and notating it down.
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#1744316 - 09/01/11 06:51 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Froglegs
Originally Posted By: MadForBrad

As for the importance of knowing from experience how things will sound I agree with you there. I have no problem hearing melodies in my head and notating them, it's when determining complex harmony and counterpoint that the piano becomes important for me.

I never have problems with tearing counterpoint in my head and notating it down.


Lucky for you.

But you still haven't answered my question:

What does it matter to you how I choose to work? Would it be OK, do you think, for someone to come to your place of work and express contempt for your methodology? Just wondering.

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#1747205 - 09/05/11 11:34 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
J Cortese Offline
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Registered: 07/20/09
Posts: 357
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I've written at the piano and away from the piano both. I do find that, like the laptop keyboard, I write best when I'm noodling with ideas in my head all day long, even at work, and then get home and dump it all out into the piano.

I don't find it useful to just sit in front of the piano and try to have an idea then and there. Ideas tend to come when they want, on their own schedule, and if one hits me in the middle of a boring meeting at work, then that's when it hits. I find that I am constantly fiddling with bits of music in my head, filling up my idea tank, and then I get home and empty it out into the piano. But the tank should ideally be filling in the background all day.

I have fumbled things and turned them into pieces, though. I'm working on one right now the coda for which I got by flubbing the end of the intro for an aria by Haendel. It moved from DM to D mixolydian, and now it's a totally separate piece. So writing at the piano works too, it's just that it can be a bit dicey to sit there and go, "Okay, I'm ready for an idea now!" They come when they want to, and it's not always when I'm ready to play it and write it down. :-P
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#1786223 - 11/10/11 05:00 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Froglegs Offline
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Registered: 08/23/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Wow I haven't been here for a while!
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#1792401 - 11/20/11 12:04 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
gsmonks Offline
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Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 635
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
For me it depends on the complexity of the music. Something basic goes directly to Sibelius. Something I'm going to sweat over goes to manuscript.

The problem with computer notation it that the process is far too slow. Part of it is that I've developed a system of shorthand over the years. Part of it, also, is that notation programmes go in only one direction, whereas with manuscript it's easier to keep track of other possibilities- something you can't do with notation programmes when working on a single score, unless you work actively on multiple versions, which in practical terms isn't going to happen.

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#1797548 - 11/28/11 10:53 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Rollin shoulders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/11
Posts: 51
Loc: WNY
I've recently picked up writing out music on manuscript,
I've been doodleing with piano parts, and when I get my cello soon I can't wait to compose parts over it.

Also being in a college theory class, you go through a lot of manuscript paper.

But I agree with you, manuscript all the way.
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#1797636 - 11/29/11 06:26 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
As an extension to this question - does anyone still BUY manuscript? Or, like me, just keep a suitable PDF in My Documents and press Print?

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#1797757 - 11/29/11 12:55 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
mrenaud Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 1312
Loc: Switzerland
I still do use manuscript, but I rarely buy staff paper anymore. I usually create an empty manuscript sheet in Sibelius, containing the instruments I need, and print a batch of it. Much cheaper than staff paper too (which is horribly expensive around these parts).
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#1797851 - 11/29/11 04:20 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: mrenaud]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
I'd probably do that, except that I have piles of ms paper lying around. At one stage in my life I really stocked up! (thinking I was going to be more prolific than I actually was...)
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#1798170 - 11/30/11 04:03 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Most of the composers I know use A3 manuscript for pretty much everything. I imagine they buy it, mainly cos it would cost a lot to print your own A3 manuscript in our college library (not a lot of people have A3 printers in their homes lol) but also because its nice to work on nice paper.

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#1798191 - 11/30/11 06:47 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: debrucey]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Most of the composers I know use A3 manuscript for pretty much everything. I imagine they buy it, mainly cos it would cost a lot to print your own A3 manuscript in our college library (not a lot of people have A3 printers in their homes lol) but also because its nice to work on nice paper.


I hear of some colleges which insist on work being computer-scored. As there's also pressure to be "non-traditional" this can turn the emphasis of the course from "composition" to "making Sibelius jump through hoops". Which, at least, may prove to be a marketable skill :-)

Enjoy it while you can - it's only at college that most of us had occasion to score for an ensemble that filled an A3 page - with any chance of performance at least!

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#1798478 - 11/30/11 05:30 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
debrucey Offline
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Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
They typeset everything in Sibelius for submission, but the actual composition is done on paper. A friend of mine is currently working on an A3 orchestral score that is at present 150 pages long, and beautifully neat too. It blows my mind lol. He writes solo piano on A3 too though.

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#1800339 - 12/04/11 06:53 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
I hear of some colleges which insist on work being computer-scored. As there's also pressure to be "non-traditional" this can turn the emphasis of the course from "composition" to "making Sibelius jump through hoops". Which, at least, may prove to be a marketable skill :-)


I studied composition at two colleges -- one insisted on computer scoring, the other strongly discouraged it. The one that insisted gave as the reason that it made it easier to pass copies of the work around between tutors. The one that discouraged it said that students tended to play their work into Sibelius (or whatever) via a MIDI keyboard, rather than learning how to use the software properly. The results were often much messier than a paper exercise would have been.

Ideally, using Sibelius (etc) shouldn't amount to making it jump through hoops -- basic note entry and formatting should be very straightforward. But, then, not everybody spends the working day in front of a computer as I do, and I appreciate that not everybody sees things the same way.

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#1800350 - 12/04/11 07:59 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: kevinb]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Ideally, using Sibelius (etc) shouldn't amount to making it jump through hoops -- basic note entry and formatting should be very straightforward. But, then, not everybody spends the working day in front of a computer as I do, and I appreciate that not everybody sees things the same way.


The hoop-jumping comes when "basic note entry and formatting" are not enough! Many composition courses are focussed on "Modern Classical" where innovation is a constant goal. New techniques demand new notation. Sibelius can often do it, but ingenuity is required!

Sometimes, however, you hit a brick wall. I heard of one course where the teacher insisted on the use of stemlets. He also required computer scores. In those days, Sibelius didn't support stemlets (it does now). He, apparantly, saw this as the students' problem. Much (completely musical unproductive) manual tweaking was required.

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#1801851 - 12/07/11 06:28 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
I heard of one course where the teacher insisted on the use of stemlets. He also required computer scores. In those days, Sibelius didn't support stemlets (it does now). He, apparantly, saw this as the students' problem. Much (completely musical unproductive) manual tweaking was required.


Yes but, to be fair, that's not the fault of the software of the general policy of using it. It's a particular tutor's eccentricity.

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#1801878 - 12/07/11 07:57 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
I heard of one course where the teacher insisted on the use of stemlets.


What is a stemlet?
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#1801883 - 12/07/11 08:01 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1195
Loc: London UK
Truncated stems leading towards a rest when one is included in a beamed group. There's a discussion here:

http://www.sibelius.com/cgi-bin/helpcent...mp;&guest=1

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#1801939 - 12/07/11 10:02 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5246
Loc: Europe
Brucey: A3!??!? That's... mildly big for small ensembles, no? I mean I've used A3 size paper (which I photocopies actually) for symphonic works and large ensembles, but now that I'm working on a violin duet, it's just a normal A4 page (with 5 systems) and it's fine.

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Stemlets: I see what the fuzz is about: It's not necessary to use them, but in some occasions it may prove handy for the performers as far as I can tell...
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#1802560 - 12/08/11 09:51 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
I think the argument my flatmate gave for it was that you can see more of the score at once when you lay the pages out on your bed lol. But yeh, most composers I know seem to use A3 for pretty much everything. This includes the staff composers too. Perhaps its a UK thing.

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#1807896 - 12/18/11 12:47 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Shadow2662 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/01/11
Posts: 14
Wow, a lot has happened while I was off. This is a bit long only because of two reasons:

1) It is something that I have also thought of when I started
2) Due to an acquaintance, I have had this topic slightly cleared up for me as far as the notation software since I was of two minds on it but not anymore.

I think everyone here has a really fair point on using either manuscript paper or a software program like Finale, etc. to write out music. To start with, I first used manuscript paper when I realized I was hearing music. I even took a habit that an acquaintance of mine once told me he did and I find it useful. If I come up with a main melody, I can write that down in the manuscript paper but then I'll transfer it onto Finale Notepad and then work from there.

I had seen the same acquaintance recently at a small lecture he gave and someone asked him a question that I think speaks a lot of volume about some composers. the question to him was something along the lines of his opinion of the notation software and if sticking strictly to the piano makes it easier.

His answer was something I don't think I expected: he said that yes, the piano is helpful, but it only gives you the sound of the piano making it difficult to write out for other instruments. This is where the notation software make it easier for composers to hear better which instruments get which parts. In many ways, the software programs are helping composers for instrumentation.

Again, I believe it strongly depends on the person and their mindset. If you believe that writing down the melody on manuscript paper is easier, then it is easier. If writing it out in notation software is easier, then it is easier.

As for regarding purchasing manuscript paper: I've had the same two notebooks of manuscript paper since I worked on my first composition for a CP project in High School and haven't had to buy another one in a long time.

Shadow2662

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#1809596 - 12/20/11 09:46 PM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Surely it is a good thing for a composer to develop their aural skills such that they are able to hear these things in their head, without having to rely on software or an instrument to know if it will sound right. That for me is the biggest argument for using manuscript paper. Whenever I use Sibelius I have the sound turned off.

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#1812920 - 12/27/11 12:01 AM Re: Is there anyone out there who still uses manuscript???? [Re: Froglegs]
Publishing Guy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/09/11
Posts: 18
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Well, one of my students does. Literally, he has several thousand pages of hand-written material; I think it has helped for all the reasons you listed above. Very cool.
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