Revision of a music score might be part of any arranging project.
Sometimes we the arrangers “nail it” on the first delivery, but often you, the client, will have changes you might want to make. We include a complimentary round of revision in our original fee quote.
Revisions can include
- key changes (transposition)
- modifications of instrumentation
- possible omitted musical facts
- a correction or modification of musical facts in a transcription such as meter, rhythm, pitch or harmonic choices.
We rely on you to supply basic guidance, including the desired instrumentation list, any “sounds like” examples you’d like us to consider, along with any suggestions as to style and mood.
We accept a wide variety of submission materials. Client recordings can be subject to interpretation. Professionally recorded material is usually clear, with easily detectable musical facts. Sometimes client recordings can be musically ambiguous, with performance issues such as approximate pitches or rhythms making transcription challenging, often resulting in things that need revision.
(We’ve adopted a policy of 2-stage submission in such cases, submitting a basic version with just the facts of transcription in a one- or two-line score to verify the result before beginning arranging and orchestration.)
Best Practices in Communicating Music Score Revisions
Most helpful in the process are fact-based revision requests, with edit lists referencing bar numbers in the score, or markup of the score itself, with alternate notes, rhythms, metric or bar line placement marked in the score. Revision requests can also be typographical in nature, such as positioning of score elements on the page, or score and parts page size. Markup can be scanned or photographed and delivered with the revision request.
We understand and use proofreaders marks (referenced here in the Chicago Manual of Style) – they’re very helpful.
Some clients prefer to make qualitative revision requests with verbal descriptions. We’re usually able to work with descriptive, subjective feedback – “we want it more ominous starting at 2:10.” Opinion feedback can be counterproductive – “this sucks!.” The most helpful subjective feedback are “sounds like” examples.
Scope of Revision
A revision that contradicts the original brief used for our quote can require a complete rewrite. If the customer asks for “swing,” then changes their mind after delivery to “hip-hop,” or a change in instrumentation, then we’re outside the scope of the revision policy and need to quote a rewrite.
Making marks in the score is “markup.” Basic proofreader’s marks come in handy. Strikeouts, “V” insertion marks, circles indicating deletion or focus regions, and added or substituted elements in a different color are all useful.
This graphic shows how to move bar lines to change a metric scheme, and add notes to chord voicings:
Here, changes were needed in the metric scheme (source was customer midi recorded without a click). Notice the new time signatures and rhythms indicated with stems, beams and dots over the correct pitches in the score.
Some written instructions can be very helpful:
Here’s some markup that is really unclear, and appeared to vary markedly from the client’s submitted audio. In proofreading and musical markup, a circle means “delete this” – unless there’s a line pointing to an instruction in the margin. There were circles all over this markup with no indication as to their meaning:
Here’s a really good, clear professional edit list:
- Bars 5-7: Double that clarinet tremolo in the alto saxes. Same in bars, 9-10: Double· trumpets in flutes, with a trill or tremolo.
- Bars 111-12: There’s a piccolo line in the original that’s missing.
- Bars 21-36: This section is fine, but the melody needs to be more present. It’s only in Clar. 1 as written, and it’ll get buried in the middle voices. Alto sax, Horn and Euph are good places if you want to keep the trumpets in the middle for the “word” parts, and then we can put trumpets on top for the “Fa la la” parts.
Here’s an edit list with subjective notes.
This was hard for us to decode – what are “splashier chords?” (We still don’t know, even after an approved rewrite). How do you inject “pathos” into a written “run?” This markup is not particularly helpful:
- Could you make the chord structure a little splashier in bars 9 and 10
- Think about a little pathos in your run bars 27 and 28
- Could you make the chord structure in bar 43 the same as bar 45 which is the same as bar 47. In the recordings you will hear they are all the same and just build slightly.
- How about a bolder chord statement in bar 38 ?
We make it clear in all our communications that we have a “Policies and Terms of Service” page, and we state our revision policy along with our initial quote.
We have a bit of a dilemma in that we want you to feel comfortable doing business with us – but we also have a policy that we do not release completed scores before payment in full.
We guarantee a round of revision following delivery.
We ask that you review the score, and if you’d like revision, please send either a marked-up score or an edit list, referencing bar numbers in the delivered score with your specific changes. We can complete revisions in one round. We quote further revisions in advance.
The reason for this is we are not in the position to grant multiple revisions at your discretion – it takes time, and we have a full schedule of work. The first one is free !