OT: Curious to learn more about best condensing practices


I was helped with issues I was having with condensing yesterday, and a person nicknamed LAE was offering advice regarding when and when not to use mid-phrase unisons; from what I understood, having too many “a 2” markings clutters the score, and you should use shared opposite stems in cases where only 1 or 2 intervals in a longer passage are unisons.

I’m very grateful for those suggestions because I realized I’m really not aware of best practices regarding mid-phrase unisons in condensing.

My intuition before was simply that mid-phrase unisons are completely fine and can help simplify your notation, in particular to avoid side-by-side whole notes in the same bar. Now, I’m getting the sense that my intuition was overly simplistic.

I was trying to look through the Dorico forums for other discussions surrounding this topic, and I noticed people hint at a balancing act between too many and too few “a x” indicators.

What rules of thumb do you follow with mid-phrase unisons in the music you engrave? What are the nuances?

In traditional scores you don’t generally see “a2” for only one or a few notes, but for a whole passage. I would use up & down stems for any passage with only occasional unisons.


Just looking to confirm: are side-by-side whole notes seen in published scores or are they considered an exception to this convention?

Doubled whole notes are needed for 2 voices only because they have no stems to show that there are two. Sometimes you see them overlapping a bit, to help show that they’re simultaneous.

Absolutely side by side.

As long as it’s clear for the reader, I don’t see why it should be a problem. Clarity is the key. A 2 markings all over the place are clear, but clutter. Use a 2 on a quite extensive passage where both instruments play the same, or use opposite stems…

Hm, so I suppose the convention extends to whole notes, where doubled notes are prefered to “a 2” markings… I see.