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NEED: Music Notation Help For A Memorial

This project has been sitting in my "to-do" list for quite a while, but after cleaning up my desk here a bit, I decided I better do this before our next concert season comes up. This involves music notation questions and solutions for a score I'd like to produce for in memory of a percussionist who passed away a few years ago, so I'm putting this in the extended entry for this. Feel free to skip if this is totally out of your league or over your head, or click below if you're interested.

A few years back, the Cascade Winds had a percussionist in the group named Eric Franz. He had been playing timpani in the group for many years, and he was a fun guy to have around. He was a great musician, playing in local bands all around Bend, as well as writing music for groups.

One of the pieces he wrote was a percussion ensemble entitled Sunjammer: Sailing The Solar Wind. A 5MB, 5-minute, MP3 of our only performance (back in 2001) can be downloaded here (understand that this is a piss-poor recording and we had a percussionist screw up her wrist just before the concert so she couldn't play). It was a great piece, and fit well with the dynamics of our section, and it was a lot of fun (you'll hear the ad-libbing in some spots). While I've played several percussion ensembles with a variety of groups, I enjoyed that one the most of all.

Eric passed away a couple years later after, from what I understood, a fight with cancer (correct me if I'm wrong, local folks who knew him -- it's been a couple years, so I can't remember -- heck, I just had a brain fart and can't remember the exact year, even). Digging through my old concert programs last year, I found the program that had his piece listed on there and I wondered to myself "What happened to that score?" After a bit of digging, we found the hand-written score in the COCC music library (we all read off hand-written scores). I have the handwritten conductor's score for the piece (with dirt and stains and all) and, as a memorial for Eric, I'd really like to get the piece converted into good, printed, music notation that we can perform again (the hand-written pieces are barely readable) and keep at the college for safekeeping among the already purchased percussion ensembles.

So I'm on the search for music notation software. My college roommate used Sibelius, and I've played with it a bit, but since this is probably a one-time thing, the $599 price tag is a bit too steep for me. A couple of the conductors at COCC have the software on their computers, but it's not transferable (it's an educational license), nor do I really want to hang out at their house to do this.

Finale has a free version of their software but it's too basic for what I need to do here, as it doesn't really support percussion parts too well, nor does it support time signatures other than quarter-note based, and we have some 6/8 and 9/8 in the piece, as well as some complicated repeated bars and weird percussion-specific notation (changing of types of sticks, instruments, etc...).

I came across LilyPond, which, I have a feeling will do everything I want to do and print out very nice music, but it's a script-based input system which is going to really complicate things (as it appears to take a pile of lines of code to do basic things -- my complicated stuff is going to get really ugly. The available GUIs for the program (NoteEdit and RoseGarden are both Linux-based, and I really don't want to setup a whole Linux install for this type of thing.

I'd really like to do this, and I don't feel comfortable handing over the only copy of this that I have to somebody else for them to convert. I'll happily photocopy it for somebody, but it probably won't be a great copy. Is somebody out there a whiz at LilyPond that could pop this out in like five minutes that might want to help me with this? Does anybody have any ideas or have a copy of some fancy software that they no longer need? Anybody who puts any sort of work into helping me with this will have their name put onto the score, just FYI (though Eric and the college reserve all copyrights to the piece, obviously).

Posted by Jake on 08/16/05 @ 05:23 PM
Posted in Jake | Permalink



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