Revising Major Andre's Way: Fixing problems and re-polishing

July 20, 2018

     Why did Major Andre's Way need revising? Well, I performed on the premiere. Therefore, the score was basically the bare minimum it needed to be, since I was directly involved in all of the rehearsals. Or, it's just missing key information that anyone else would need to actually perform the piece. The sixth movement of Major Andre's Way is performed inside the piano, but it's not just pizzicato. I created a system of eight locations to strike on the metal frame to create a variety of booming reverberations in the piano, but that never made it into a score. It remained a pencil-and-paper sketch, right next to my 12-tone matrix for the same movement:

 

 

     Not exactly professional. But who cares, since I was performing it? We didn't even have time for that movement, and the knocking (as I called it) didn't get mentioned in the program notes. Nobody was the wiser.

     Well, except for me, two years later. If I ever want Major Andre's Way to be performed by anyone else, it needs to be included in the engraved score. And if it's in the score, it can't be a photocopy of a scratched-out sketch on notebook paper. In this day and age, there's no excuse for scores to look unprofessional if you want any performances.

 

     Fortunately, there are tons of options for graphic design in the 21st century. I found a free service called Vectr.com that was more than capable of creating a fantastic-looking diagram for the score notes. Since I'm not a graphic designer by trade, it took a couple days and revisits to get right, but I'm definitely proud of the result:

     Now that I think of it, that raises an interesting discussion about composers as their own engravers, or graphic designers specializing in scores. I'm aware that there are dedicated engravers and engraving services out there, but for the up and coming composer, there's not a lot of wiggle room financially. I would encourage all young composers to do your research on what's out there that's cost-effective and/or easily learned so you can do whatever you need to without too large of a financial burden.

 

     That being said, graphic designers need to eat too. I can't imagine paying somebody who designs for a living to design for you would ever be a bad decision. Oh, and if you go that route, be sure to pay them even if you don't end up using the design they come up with. If you got commissioned for a piece that didn't end up getting performed for some reason, you'd still want the commission, no?

     That diagram sparked the entire revision (especially since it's going on a spiffy new website), which was a great opportunity to modify some of the things that didn't work so well in the premiere. As it was my first work for voice, one of the big things I learned immediately was that the voice doesn't project as well in the lower register. Imagine that, not every instrument works like the piano or saxophone. Change some octaves, redo some engraving, wrestle with the latest Finale, and add a cover page and some program notes, and the revision was complete!

 

Check out the page for Major Andre's Way to listen to and read more about the piece.

 

BJH

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