Entry #7 – Trom. Concerto – Jennifer Higdon

October 1

The short score is done! This means I basically know how the piece
goes, with lots more decisions to be made as I orchestrate these notes.

I have completed what is known as a part extraction of the solo
trombone part to send to Pete Sullivan, so that he can take a look and
see if I’ve written anything that is not playable (remember my
statement about the difficulty of working with the slide positions?)…

all instruments have limitations and the idea for a composer is to
make the instrument sound good, make it playable and yet make it
challenging so that the player is engaged, is interested, and also
feels like the work is worth putting the time in to learn (so there’s
some sort of emotional payoff for the performer). All performers
(including myself) have had to learn pieces that have taken
extraordinary amounts of time to practice… only to discover that the
hours preparing didn’t feel worth the final product…this is something
that I want to avoid!!!!

I’ve also created a blank score on which to do the orchestration
(this will be the final full score when it’s done). This means putting
in the correct instruments, correct number of measures and all of the
time changes (this piece has a lot of those). There are a lot of things
to set up: the size and location of the measure/rehearsal numbers
(singular numbers at the top of the score on the first measure of each
page and then every measure number marked at the bottom of the score);
how big the orchestra is going to be (will there be 2 or 3
percussionists and will there be a keyboard? how many winds?); size of
the metronome markings (you don’t want them to be too small and you
want all of these things to come out clearly in the parts when they’re
extracted); starting clefs for instruments that have several clef
options; format on the page (all the staves must fit on an 11 x 17 inch
page). It’s amazing just how much there actually is to decide that
doesn’t have much bearing on the music itself, but does determine how
easy or hard it is for the conductor and musicians in reading the music.


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