Comments on readability please.

Pianists who are good at sight-reading: I have a huge request.

If you would change the .zip extension on the attached file to .dorico, and then open it in your Dorico 3 app, any edition, and let me know if you have any comments on readability. I am particularly concerned about whether the 3-voice style used in the first two full measures is easier to read, or whether the 2-voice style used in, for example, measures 65-68 is. I’m having a hard time deciding which approach looks better to my eye. (You’d play them pretty much the same, whichever way it’s printed, always using the right hand to catch some of the ‘left hand’ notes.)

I composed this in 2002 as a tribute to my late wife (who died in 2006), using Sibelius 5 and 6. I input the whole thing into Dorico 3 Pro this last week, from scratch, as a means of learning more about my now-favorite software. (And, yes, Leo, this is the piece where I ran into the Pedal line versus slur issue you answered so thoroughly in another thread.). I’ve played it hundreds of times, but have never been comfortable with the style of notation I used, and still doubt myself on that issue every day.

If anybody who knows piano at all has any suggestions for how to notate it better, to better achieve the net effect (which does play back pretty close to the way I play it), please let me know. (Although I play it with a lot more rubato than Dorico does.)

And thanks, in advance.

–Len (511 KB)

I have to hit the hay but I’ll take a look in the morning…

Looks very nice overall, Len. A worthy tribute to your wife.

  1. You might consider taking out the slurs in the LH. They’re superfluous. That’s a matter of opinion, but I like to see a clean score, and you’re already asking the player to pedal there. The phrasing would be implied.
  2. Either the 2-voice or 3-voice format is fine. Both are totally readable, and I don’t think you have to be consistent. I would make it a matter of which hand is playing what. If it’s part of the bass clef arpeggiation, select the higher notes that the RH will play, and send them to the upper staff by pressing N. It seems like you really have two voices throughout… if so, I would use N to avoid all the rests in the RH. Only use those if you want a true counter-voice in the RH in addition to the LH accompaniment.
  3. I suggest you remove the pedal marks and simply write con pedale at the beginning. In general, pianists prefer to do this themselves and don’t want marks everywhere, unless a specific spot should be pedaled or not pedaled.

Beautiful piece Len, and I agree with Dan re: pedals and slurs. In bar 21 I would put the top line into its own voice, so the F natural can be a quarter note instead of two 8ths tied together.

Len, this is a reminder of how much pleasure can be had from software. I’m glad I looked at your post.

First thoughts:

Throughout – Switch to ‘End on first note in tie chain’ (Engraving Options, Slurs, Tied Notes)
Bar 1 would then look more like bar 5 and I think the score would generally look less cluttered.

Throughout – Omit the pedal markings.
The pedalling will come naturally to a pianist.

Throughout - Reduce the number of voices you’ve used (ten down-stem voices in the right hand alone) for ease of maintenance. Turn on View, Note & Rest Colors, Voice colors and then use Edit, Voices, Change voice to simplify things.

Throughout – Get rid of some of the rests in voice 2 in the right hand (Use Starts Voice and Ends Voice in the Properties panel)
Some of the rests are useful; some are clutter.

Copyright notice – Uppercase C for the word copyright.

Dedication – Use a warmer typeface perhaps and use en (Alt+0150) dashes or em (Alt+0151) dashes rather than hyphens (and perhaps add spaces).

Bars 16, 20, 40 etc. – Perhaps use staccato marks on the repeated notes beneath the slurs to indicate portato. A slur looks odd over repeated notes without this I think.

Bar 20 – Change A# to Bb.

Bar 21 – Separate some of the notes into two voices so that the F natural can be a crotchet.

Bar 33 – The F natural should be an E sharp.

Bar 35 – Introduce a second voice for the last three quavers in the right hand.

Bar 36 – It might be better to write a B sharp rather than a C natural.

Bar 38 – Use two voices for the right hand.

Bar 40 – Change the key signature to E major? The change could also be made two beats before.

Bar 45 – The G natural should be an F double sharp.

Bar 47 – The D natural should probably be a C double sharp and the F natural should be an E double sharp. It might perhaps be better to change the key signature though: Ab minor in bar 44 then back to E major in bar 49?

Bar 65 – If necessary, change key signature back to D major?

Bars 81-82 – Use two voices in the right hand.

Bars 85-86 – Ditto (and there’ll be other instances I haven’t mentioned).

Bar 91 – Use fewer tied notes in the left hand: either a dotted crotchet instead of the second quaver or a dotted minim on the second beat.

Hope this is helpful.

[Edited for afterthoughts.]

All of the above (from everyone, I think), though I’m not sure I agree with tristis’s first point about end slurs at the starts of tie chains (in general).

At the risk of irritating Ms. Gould and some of her disciples, I find some of the Note Grouping a bit pedantic for music that’s written on a grand staff. Yes, I know that theoretically the half-bar in 4/4 should never be hidden, but in this example (and many others) it’s clearly visible in the top stave, so why split the long note in the bottom stave?

Try switching this Notation Option - I’m pretty sure it doesn’t result in anything offensive (at least not to me!):

I wouldn’t want to divert this thread and don’t have strong feelings about any rights and wrongs of the treatment of slurs and tie chains but (1) ending a slur on the first note is common in printed literature and manuscripts (by chance the last three songs I’ve looked at – one by Brahms, two by Fauré (I was using the new Peters critical edition) – have slurs ending on the first note), and (2) opting for ‘End on first note in tie chain’ makes a huge difference (beneficial in my opinion) to Len’s score.

Nice, romantic piece of music Len,
Payable as it is, 2-or 3 voice both okay, long or shorter slurs fine to me and no pedal markings, con ped will do for me. If you want to publish, perhaps look at the remarks of Tristis.

Everybody: Thanks!

Tristis: I originally wrote it (in Sibelius) with no key signature at all, as it does tend to go all over the place, and, for example, in measure 48 the first half of the measure was clearly in Eb major, and the second half in B major, a shift I found quite exciting. But then on further looking at it all (instead of playing for a change) I realized that if I thought of the piece as being in D major rather than some weird sort of atonality or perhaps multi tonality, the first half of that measure is really in D# major (if there is such a thing) and thinking of it that way makes the relationship of the two keys clearer, so I put in a key signature (in Dorico) and made the appropriate spelling changes here and there. And missed a few, as you have noted, and thanks for catching those typos. (And also, having no key signature really clutters up the whole piece with hundreds of accidentals which otherwise aren’t needed.)

Leo: I agree about the half notes, and will make that change. Gould to the contrary notwithstanding.

And about slurs and ties. Sorry folks, I just can’t do it. I was taught (vehemently at times), at Juilliard among others, that a slur ALWAYS goes to the far end of a tie chain, and the shorter way (though used by many composers and publishers) just looks WRONG and I can’t do it! I’d rather just leave the slurs out entirely as to do that. Which several of you have implied would be an improvement anyway!

As to pedal markings, the one sport I feel I HAVE to have one is at the end of measure 91 where the pedal has to be released just at the crossing of the barline in order for the harmony to resolve as the c# is played. Or would most pianists automatically know to do that?

Again, thanks all.