Engraving Convention

Music Notation and Engraving

The site is concerned with:

  • Music Engraving
  • Music Printing
  • Early Notation
  • Traditional Notation
  • Modern Notation
  • Computer Notation Software Resources
  • Music Fonts

Have a nice reading :wink:


What is the purpose of the site, please?

Those dot-matrix-printer-level images though. I feel like I’m back in the 80’s.

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I think the purpose of the site is apparent. Sadly, many of the topics are not available and links to some of the graphics do not work.

This site dates from the earliest days of the internet. It was a project of some music students from Colorado College and one of their faculty advisors. Clearly, it’s an attempt to provide musicians who were using last century’s computer software with the basic notation rules used in music engraving. This site enjoyed some popularity 20-25 years ago, but clearly has been replaced by better internet sites and publications.

It would have been better to say this was of possible historical curiosity. I wasted several minutes reading, expecting it to be valuable. I even started to write a comment to complain that no units were given with measurements in a table (but didn’t send it).

No. That’s where they lost me.

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It looked to me as if the site was only very partially constructed.
If it is intended to give agreed conventions in musical notation and discuassion of them, surely an internet site is of far more use than having to purchase a book which pushes the personal agenda of the writer.

Yes. As I said, many of the topics are not available (links broken). When the site was fully accessible, it was fairly complete and sort of a Reader’s Digest version of the Ted Ross book. The work of college students, but not entirely without merit.

Music Notation Style Guide – Composition Department

There are a few free reputable resources out there too. The Music Publishers Association (MPA) has a booklet titled Standard Music Notation Practice available as a free PDF. The Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) also has some good info. Their Guidelines for Music Preparation is useful if you want to know what is expected when doing orchestral work, and it has been translated into a bunch of languages. Some of their other resources are also helpful as well.

Most of us are probably aware of the following, but the big 4 books on engraving conventions IMO are Behind Bars by Elaine Gould, The Art of Music Engraving and Processing by Ted Ross, Music Notation by Gardner Read, and Music Notation in the Twentieth Century by Kurt Stone. Gould is probably the current “state of the art” but she doesn’t address jazz, commercial, or musical theater conventions at all, so just be prepared if that’s the type of work you’re interested in. The Ted Ross book is out of print but available on CD from NPC Imaging. For jazz and commerical conventions, Clinton Roemer’s The Art of Music Copying is excellent, but long out of print so you’re probably stuck with eBay or used book sellers.


The Art of Music Copying is available here, to view or freely download as a PDF.


But the trouble with the approach of style manuals when they are used to inform permissible ways of notating in a program like Dorico or the others is that they embalm conventions and make it difficult to notate in any way other than that which they specify, leading to users being encouraged to follow the rules regrdless of their lack of use.

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That link is almost certainly to an illegal copy though, at least in the US anyway. I have the 2nd edition but it lists the copyright date of the first edition as 1973, which is obviously well after 1926 (the current public domain cut off).

Probably all the books mentioned are available from some download site. I was just trying to keep it legal.

I appreciate your concern. Roerick Music as well as Clinton Roemer do not appear on internet searches of “White Pages” sites or any general Google search (I tried). I think it’s reasonable to download a copy for one’s own personal use. It does no good to keep valuable sources of information hidden under a bushel basket. My 2¢.

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I meant it more from Steinberg’s perspective. Certainly anyone can google “title free download pdf” but if this thread ends up with a bunch of links to pirated material, the mods will probably just delete the thread.