Welcome to the October 2022 edition of the Artistic Score Engraving newsletter. It has been a turbulent month, coming back from Serbia, settling down, organising the new school year, and so much more.
In short, I am nauseated by how things are going on here. You all know how we, in Italy, were locked down during Covid-19. Well, now people here are rejecting every activity that a) requires effort (but that’s not too much of a news) and b) is practiced indoor. That includes music, of course. Both me and my partner lost up to 50% of our teaching hours from last year. While teaching had never been our main mean of sustenance—due to how badly it’s paid here, and how little quantity of it we had—it was a good extra and a way to stay connected with the local community.
Now, things are turning sour because, for the first time in ten years, I have had a two-month-long hiatus in engraving commissions. I will not enter into details, let me just tell you that I got bloody scared. Italy is becoming an expensive country where to live, so we will need to thread carefully in the months ahead.
What have I been up to
Knowing I had to do something about this work shortage, I thought about writing to publishers, offering my engraving and layout design services (through this portfolio). I wrote to 130 of them, based on the top successful ones, and here’s some statistics: about 10% replied (which is good), of which one required an interview. They tested me thoroughly, then took the test results and said they were not interested. Nice!
I have already talked about writing to pedagogical institutions in the September edition, and no improvement has come from there. Since I would like to keep being the personal engraver of (a) composer(s), I have started again to write to composers on my “write to” list. We will see if anything comes out of it.
The two publishing houses I work for have gone into a deep slumber, from which I hope they will emerge, the sooner, the better. Meanwhile, I cannot wait for something to happen, so I have been expanding in three directions:
- publishing more of my editions
- expanding my services
- learning new skills
Let’s look at all this.
My current offering has been that of taking a musical manuscript or a non-professionally typeset engraving file from a composer/arranger/teacher to bring it to publishing level. That’s what’s called Music Preparation Service and, at least in the USA, there are plenty of companies doing that, so competition is fierce!
With local teaching plummeting to the ground, I have therefore decided to try to offer my decade of pedagogical experience online, and much more.
In this article, I have explained what this is about. The selling point for me is posture and healthy practicing. If you feel any pain or discomfort while practicing or playing, then you may want to consider giving this a try. I have written about my experience in my Bachelor’s thesis, which you can find—in Italian—here. I will update and translate it in English if there is enough interest.
Music Engraving Lessons
I am perfectly aware that composers have less and less money to invest in the outlook of their creations, and that they are obliged to do everything by themselves, in the end sacrificing quality. That is why I am offering my help to anyone who would like to either learn how to use a notational software, or to simply improve on their existing skills. Lessons will be available in 15-minute increments so that you may even just book a spot to ask how to do something.
Of course, you can go to Facebook, find a public forum, and ask help there for free, but personal coaching is just another thing. In this article, I have announced and described this new service in detail.
Music Notation Proofreading
Let’s say that you have already laid out your piece in your software of choice. You clearly see something is not as good as it should be, but you don’t know what. That’s my new proposal: send a PDF of the score (or part) to me and I will proofread it for you, telling you what to improve. The service is available in one hour increments, and any leftover time will be stored for future use.
You can read about this here. I think this will prove very useful to composers and arrangers alike, since my engravings’ quality has more than doubled since 2018 when I started doing this myself.
Ever since completing the work on the ”Techniques of Canonical Counterpoint” with American composer Ericsson F. Hatfield, I have looked forward to using these newly learned skill at the service of music. This will take a piece of music and colour a different part of the musical text to make them stand out. For example, in a Bach’s fugue, you may want to have the subject in red and the answer in blue. In a Sonata, you may want to colour the evolutions of a thematic idea in the same way.
This should prove very useful to students and to teachers alike. If you want to give a look at how this comes out in practice, here’s the link for you.
It looks like this has suddenly become fashion in the musical world: publishing videos of your music with the score scrolling on-screen. It seems that young composers have to do this for their portfolios, that even publishers are putting their catalogues up there in this way. Some are doing analysis of pieces with video, and so much more…
It is clear that video is the way to go for any business, and so, for my last two editions, I have tried to do the same. At the moment of writing, my YouTube channel has 27 subscribers, but I am reasonably happy with how the latest two videos have come out (Dotzauer Op. 156 here, and Bach Suite 1 here).
With those, you can look at what I can do for your scores, and I will keep expanding my skills for all my future, and possibly past editions. Please contact me if you want to know more.
That was always there, but I will reiterate it here: if you need any piece arranged for any ensemble, you know where to find me!
Three editions have seen the light of day during the month of September (a fourth was planned, but was then cancelled for political reasons).
Dotzauer Op. 156
The fourth instalment of the Dotzauer Project is out, and we are nearing the completion of its FIRST PHASE, which I plan to complete in October with Op. 63 (again, if there is interest, I will also accelerate the revision of Opp. 58 and 159). There have been some exciting developments for this project, but until this is set in stone, I would rather not fly too high. If this works out, it will be huge, though.
I have published a detailed article about the publication of Op. 156, which is once more made up of twelve pieces for two cellos, this time six fugues and six national airs. It is possibly the funniest collection of them all. If you want to hear how the French anthem—La Marseillaise—sounded like for two cellos, I have made a video about it.
This edition is available in a standard and collectors’ edition as usual, the latter including also the more recent—and heavily edited—edition by Carl Hüllweck, and the single piece included by Johannes Klingenberg in his collection.
Bach Suite I for cello and piano
This is a piece I had wanted to publish for a very long time and, finally, I have been able to do that. Accompaniments for the Bach Cello Suites have been written by several composers throughout time, but they are seldom more than mere harmonisations. This, though, is different, and I hope you will love it.
You can hear how the two Minuets sound, here’s the video (I know, in bar 21 there is a wrong note, which is actually right, just read the comments there). I have written about it in this article, and it is available for purchase here. It included the cello and piano score, and the cello part with bowing and fingering suggestions by Piatti himself, which are fascinating. I wonder if Fournier knew about this when he made his edition.
Eternal Father, Strong to Save
I am sure you know the piece, but the inspiration for arranging it came from a piece I am engraving for a composer. He quotes the last verse’s melody and text in his composition (”For those in perils on the sea”), and I loved it so much I decided to try something out.
This is my first attempt at a mass arrangement, and it was also a good challenge to see how much time did it take for me to arrange and publish a piece without sacrificing my usual quality. In the end, not that much, as I could realise the original version for SATB choir, a version for voice and piano, and arrangements for cello, trombone, saxophone, string, woodwind, brass, and horn quartets, plus publishing in less than 9 hours. No surprise there are people able to publish 3-4 arrangements per day if they just use software defaults, do not design covers, etc. …
I am quite proud of the result, and you can hear the cello quartet arrangement in this video. The score and parts are available for purchase here, where you can choose your arrangement or even purchase the full bundle if you’d like. Since this is my first try at this, I have encouraged prospective purchasers to suggest new keys for the arrangements, which will be added for free.
With all this spare time, I could finally get back to learning new skills. I have completed the ”Become a Graphic Designer” path on LinkedIn Learning, where I met just the best teachers ever: Jim Kraus (for colours) and Tony Harmer (for illustration). Besides, also Nigel French (for InDesign) and Sean Adams (for general design principles) have proven invaluable sources of inspiration. I look forward to expanding my skills in that direction, even if my question remains: if not through freelancing, where can I put this to work? I would love to create books and magazines for publishers, but besides taking them one by one and writing emails like I did for music publishers, I don’t know how to approach that.
Furthermore, I have started to learn about 2D animations through Adobe Animate, a fascinating software. I hope this will help me create even more compelling videos.
Finally, I could go back to study programming. I have paused with Objective-C because I could no longer convert the Swift apps I was building in the course. I plan to get back to it once I finish this course. It seems that, after all the dust SwiftUI raised in the Apple developer community, UIKit and AppKit are coming back to the foreground as the most stable and reliable frameworks to use. It is nauseating to see how many resources were created for SwiftUI, just because that would have brought money to those creators. True developers, though, those who work in the field of building true apps that will eventually ship, knew better, and they kept using what was 100% reliable. This does not imply that SwiftUI has no advantages but, for example, on my already quite powerful computer, I cannot compile apps in it without waiting for ages. So, even if this has been available for three years, it is still the toy of those with the latest machine, and little more. Of course, this is my opinion, and I am just a hobbyist developer, nothing more at the moment.
I have—finally!—got back to my cello, and loved every moment of it. Going back to open strings, to the vibrations of a slow bow near the bridge, to scales, and then, of course, to Bach VI Suite! I just love this piece, and its Allemande is possibly the only piece that can give me peace wherever I am.
In the end, that’s who I am: I am a cellist! All the rest is what I do for a living, but that’s a different thing!
This October I hope to be able to put out at least two new editions, one being Dotzauer op. 63 and the other one, well, a surprise. I am working towards making the jump into something big, but I have still to complete all the necessary preliminary researches. I hope, by the end of the year, to have some good news to share. As always, you can find my updated catalogue here. In the next few days, moreover, a great update to my MetaGrid Pro viewset for Sibelius should come out. Stay tuned!
I will practice my cello, learn new skills regularly and, hopefully, get some assignments to work on.
The mailing list version of this episode will get the product list with the discounted links. Should you want to join that, feel free to insert your e-mail address here. We are steadily growing!
Thank you for reading through all this, I have tried to make it briefer than usual. I sincerely hope that you found something useful in it.
I wish you all the best until the next episode.