Music Preparation

Music preparation is as much of an art as a science. While computer software has automated many aspects of the work, creating beautiful and easy-to-read musical material is still a matter of skills learned through years of experience.

Here are three examples of my work. Click on the images to see a full page for each sample.


This is one page of a song laid out in typical pop music format, with a vocal line and a piano part with chord symbols above for the use of guitar. In this case, the client furnished me with an audio file of the song, and I transcribed the written notation by ear. Ironing out a lot of the subtle rubato and expressive pitch variations of the recorded performance (which are left for future performers to create) resulted in a very clean, easy-to-use notation.

Here is a page from Ophelia's Last Dance by Oliver Knussen, a piece I prepared in 2011 for Faber Music. It has the distinctive notational preferences of the (extremely exacting) composer, including large centred time signatures, non-standard beaming and lots of cross-stave notation. It is, as with so much Knussen, not short on notational detail.

A sample page of an orchestral part for Frank Bridge's Dance Poem which I prepared recently. This one is laid out to the publisher's template: if it is printed on A4 paper, it will look about 10% smaller than it should. Parts preparation is a fairly regular part of my workload: orchestral parts need good cues and a layout that gives the player time to turn the page, although this is not always possible in the busier sections of the orchestra.