Note8 Music Typesetting and Publishing FAQ

Who are you?

The sole proprietor of Note8 Music Typesetting and Publishing is David Larrick.  A page of this website gives various personal information about me, including my performing arts credits and my upcoming performances.

Gilbert and Sullivan credentials

I have conducted every opera in the canon except Grand Duke, most with full orchestras, a few with reduced orchestrations which I prepared.  Onstage performer, pit musician, and stage technician for over three decades as well.  I'm proud to have been recognized as a Yeomen of Regard by the Sudbury (Mass.) Savoyards, so my proper title is "Sir David Larrick, YR".

Other music credentials

Piano, tuba, trombone, and percussion player; singer; traditional jazz (Dixieland, blues, swing, ragtime), concert band music, theatrical pits.  My BA is in Music, concentrating on composition and music for the stage.

Music publishing credentials

I was involved in the early days of desktop publishing, as part of Digital Equipment Corp's collaboration with Adobe Systems to integrate the PostScript graphical protocol with networked computers and laser printers. 

Beginning with the edition of The Sorcerer which I produced for my own use, I have been selling Sullivan orchestra materials on this website since 1992.

What's with the name?

Since my business is all about music notation, it's a pun on the word "notate". 

When technologically and typologically feasible, the digit "8" is properly formatted as a subscript, as in "take it down an octave", reflecting my fondness for bass clef instruments.

Why are some materials offered only for purchase, some only for rental, and some for free download?

It's a combination of what form the materials are in, U.S. intellectual-property law, and my knowledge of my customers' needs.

As a former rental customer myself, I know that rentals are a pain. Time limits, quality and condition issues, panic when that one last book is missing, costly shipping. And the next time you produce the same show – common in Gilbert & Sullivan specialty companies – it's the same thing all over again.

So I built a personal collection of Sullivan orchestra parts, by buying them from Kalmus, for productions which I was conducting. These handwritten parts exist as physical books, not online. I offer these sets of parts for rental at below-market rates, for these reasons:

All other materials on this website exist as online files, edited and engraved/typeset by me using Finale professional music engraving software. I distribute these materials as PDF files, to be printed and bound by customers, in whatever quantities and formats they require. Offering these parts for rental would just not make any sense.

I have chosen to offer many of these online materials for free download, directly through my website. Others – primarily the Sullivan full scores and orchestra parts – are offered for purchase. The website contains samples for you to view or download, and I'm always happy to answer any questions you may have. Once you've decided to buy, pay via PayPal, and I will send you the PDF files as email attachments.

Note that a few of my materials are subject to performance royalty. In these cases the purchase price includes the PDF files, plus rights for a specific number of performances, at a specific location, on specific dates. The PDF files and copies printed from them are the purchaser's to keep, and to share with others, but subsequent productions must contact me for performance rights.

Why are many of the materials so expensive?

Surely this question refers to the full (conductor's) scores and sets of orchestra parts to some of Sullivan's least-known operas:  The Sorcerer, Princess Ida, Utopia (Limited), and Cox and Box.  These materials are the result of literally thousands of hours of specialized work, in data entry, reconciling conflicting sources, layout design, and performance-testing.  In some cases they are not available anywhere else.  They are far more accurate and legible than the antique manuscript materials on which they are based.  Yet I charge less to purchase them than commercial publishers charge to rent similar materials! 

I welcome comments on my prices, and on the practices of my competitors.

Do you offer discounts?

Generally, no. I believe that my prices are fair and competitive, as described immediately above. And most of my customers represent various Worthy Causes – charities, schools, churches, other nonprofits. Favoring selected Worthy Causes with discounts wouldn't be fair to me or to my other customers.

There is no cost advantage to ordering multiple items at once. In fact, I encourage productions to obtain a full (conductor's) score early in the production process, and to use it to plan cuts, transpositions, and other details which might affect the parts. After those details are decided, it's time to order parts.

I do offer a discount-like practice in support of programs of selections. An evening of selections from the entire G&S canon, with full orchestra, could easily cost many thousands of dollars for parts, purchased or rented as full operas. Or sometimes certain books in a company's library have been damaged or lost, and I will supply individual parts in this situation. Contact me for a quote for exactly the selections you need.

Should I be concerned about sending you large sums of money?

Any sensible person would be! But you do have several protections:

Even if you do not already have a PayPal account, the PayPal website guides you through the quick, secure payment process. It accepts credit cards, debit cards, and bank account transfers.

What's up with the “shareware” materials?

As a composer and arranger, I'm eager to get my works onto the music stands of musicians worldwide, in hopes that they will sightread and perform them. But as an editor and publisher, I try to earn a fair return on my efforts, and to protect my works from intellectual-property piracy. For many works on this website I have decided that I'm more interested in exposure than in income and control, so I offer these materials for free download.

I'm grateful to those musicians who contact me to express their appreciation for my work, often including details of performances and audience reactions, and sometimes with suggestions for improvements or for additional works. The business side of my personality is also grateful to those who choose to express their appreciation in terms of US dollars. The generic PayPal button on my homepage has “voluntary shareware payment” as one of its choices for this purpose.

How much to pay? No amount is too small. If a work becomes a regular part of your library, or especially of your performance repertoire, please consider how much you would have paid a commercial music publisher for a similar work, and pay up accordingly!

As noted in the copyright notice of each work,

Do you accept Purchase Orders?

No. But for each order I do provide a paid-in-full Invoice for your recordkeeping or reimbursement purposes.

How quickly do you fill orders?

Typically the same day I receive payment, often within a couple of hours. PayPal payments usually clear immediately, but sometimes there's a verification delay in PayPal's process.

Sometimes travel, computer trouble, or Real Life will prevent me from filling an order promptly. Don't be shy about contacting me to check you order's status.

As a gigging musician myself, I understand deadlines and time crunches, and I will do what I can to help rescue you when necessary.  But please understand that printing and binding take time (whether you or I do it); that express shipping costs more; and that I may already be racing against someone else's deadline.

Do you sell printed materials?

Yes, but rarely. In recent years the vast majority of my orders have been for online delivery – PDF files delivered as email attachments, for the customer to print and bind locally. Paper delivery orders have become so rare that I have removed those options from my website.

Contact me if you need paper delivery. Please note that paper delivery will include extra time and costs for printing, binding, and shipping.

For technical details of online delivery, including printing considerations, click here.

Are the Sullivan scores and parts authentic?

These materials make "no pretense to intellectual eminence or scholarship sublime". They are based on the manuscript parts available for rental or purchase from Kalmus, which has been the standard commercial source of Sullivan orchestra materials in the U.S. for decades.

The provenance of the Kalmus editions is shrouded in historical mystery. The most plausible theory, in my opinion, is that they began as sets of parts used by D'Oyly Carte touring companies in the U.S., and that these parts made their way into the Kalmus library by some means, legitimate or nefarious. They are clearly NOT the work of those talented American musical “pirates”, who created and sold their own editions after witnessing authorized performances, and who inspired the subject matter of The Pirates of Penzance. I have studied the products of some of those “pirates”, and while remarkable, they simply didn't fully capture Sullivan's brilliance.

The Kalmus editions, in my opinion, do capture that brilliance. They may differ from Sullivan's autograph materials due to copying errors and touring-company variants, and these differences are of intense interest to scholars of Sullivan, but they are of little practical importance to musicians who perform his works. Thus the Kalmus editions, and the Note8 editions based on them, are solid performing editions.

Actually, the above characterization of errors as un-important to practicing musicians is simply not true. Errors consume rehearsal time, undermine performers' confidence, and compromise performance quality. In preparing the Note8 editions I corrected hundreds of errors and inconsistencies, in an informed and sensitive manner, but not necessarily a scholarly one.

I also ensured that my Note8 editions are fully compatible with the Kalmus ones, in such matters as rehearsal letters, and sequence and numbering of selections. Many productions have successfully mixed Note8 and Kalmus materials in the same pit.

Are the Sullivan materials compatible with other publishers' editions?

My Note8 editions are fully compatible with the Kalmus editions on which they are based, in such matters as rehearsal letters, and sequence and numbering of selections. Many productions have successfully mixed Note8 and Kalmus materials in the same pit.

Pagination is quite different. In general, my typeset editions contain more music per page than the manuscript Kalmus ones do, resulting in fewer pages and fewer page-turns. I have also gone to great efforts to make my page-turns practical for pit musicians.

Mixing Note8 orchestra materials with those of other publishers (besides Kalmus) is not recommended. Exception: the new Mikado materials are compatible with both the Dover and Kalmus materials.

Compatibility of orchestra materials with piano-vocal scores, and even with libretti, is a more complex problem, and one which producing companies frequently confront. Rehearsal letters are sometimes reliably consistent, sometimes unreliable, and sometimes entirely missing from piano-vocal scores. The sequence and numbering of selections sometimes differ, as do number of verses, and number of measures of intros and playouts. Tempo indications, dynamics, cue lines, even lyrics can differ. Spotting and reconciling these contradictions has traditionally been the responsibility of producing companies, not of editors or publishers. The proliferation of new editions of piano-vocal scores in recent years, while otherwise welcome, has only added to these issues.

Note8 Music Typesetting and Publishing does not sell piano-vocal scores, nor do I recommend specific editions.

In the spirit of helping producing organizations to take advantage of the choices described above, the Note8 editions offer specific features such as:

Music publishing terminology and history

A score contains all the notes sung or played by the entire ensemble.  A part contains only the notes played by a specific instrument or by a small group of instruments.

One purpose of a score is for reference.  It should be possible to determine what note a specific instrument is playing at any time, or whether that instrument is not playing at all.  A full (conductor's) score serves this purpose by presenting a separate staff for each instrument, or sometimes for a few related instruments.  As a result, full scores sometimes contain so many staves that they must be either printed on oversized paper, or scaled to a tiny size, and so little music fits on each page that page-turns occur frequently.

A condensed score addresses this problem by compressing the entire ensemble into a few staves, typically two to four.  Text labels identify which instruments or groups play which lines, but this presentation is inherently ambiguous, and thus unsuitable for reference purposes.

A piano/vocal score contains the vocal lines, plus a piano reduction of the full orchestration.

For most of musical history, scores and parts were handwritten (also called manuscript), and the only way to copy one was to hand-write another.  As with all types of documents, hand-copying was time-consuming and error-prone.  Gutenburg's invention of movable type revolutionized the high-volume production of copy which is organized into horizontal rows (i.e. text); but since music notation is not organized in this way, and since the required quantities of music notation documents are typically low, movable type did not have much effect on musical materials.

For high-volume or highly formal, legible music (as well as for drawings and other non-text copy), the alternative was engraving.  A mirror image of the entire musical page would be hand-carved onto a flat metal plate, providing pockets which would transfer ink to paper.  This process produced perfectly identical copies, both from the initial print run and from later runs.  Skilled music engravers created gorgeous works of printable, playable art, setting a standard to which computer-aided music notation aspires today.  But their efforts were costly, so popular materials such as sheet music were more commonly engraved than orchestral scores and parts were.  (For insights into the engraver's craft, watch a documentary program describing the similar process used today to prepare the plates for printing currency and stamps.)
 
In the mid-20th century, xerography changed everything.  One page could be turned into another, quickly, faithfully, and economically.  The technological revolution continued with bitmapped computer displays, laser printing, desktop publishing, and specialized music notation software, to the point that today's best computer-generated charts rival the engraved materials of centuries past.

But what to call these materials?  Common practice is to call them "engraved", simply to distinguish them from handwritten materials.  But since the modern process does not involve metalworking of any kind, that term is inaccurate, not to mention presumptuous.  "Computer-engraved" might be a workable compromise, but I prefer "computer-typeset" (or simply "typeset"), reflecting the new reality that printing music today is not much different from printing any other copy.

Music publishing today need not involve printing at all.  Almost all of my materials are delivered as PDF files.  Most of these are, in turn, printed locally, but some of my customers view their PDF files on computers or tablets, for reference or practice.  Can the PDF music stand be far away?

Note8 editorial policies

Reduced orchestrations

When budget, pit space, or personnel prevent using a full orchestra, but you want to perform with more than “just piano”, what parts should your pit musicians use? Note that Sullivan's orchestration, unlike (for example) that for some Broadway musicals, was not designed to sound good with parts missing; some harmonies would be thin, some vocal lines would be un-doubled, some countermelodies would be missing, and the balance would be off. The parts do not contain any cues to permit players to cover for missing instruments; the only cues are provided to help players keep their place.  It is also surprisingly awkward to mark up, say, the Clarinet 1 book with selected notes from the Clarinet 2 part. And expecting one player to cover two books is very challenging.

Instead, I recommend using a “reduced orchestration” (sometimes called a “reduction”) which matches your available instrumentation. These are commercially available for the more popular operas, with multiple choices in some cases. A good reduced orchestration will capture Sullivan's distinctive style and sound, will resolve the issues mentioned above, and will include accurate, legible parts. According to reliable colleagues of mine, some of the commercial reduced orchestrations do not achieve these goals, so check references and examine samples.

Sullivan's full orchestration is in the public domain under US copyright law, but reduced orchestrations are subject to copyright. Thus, in addition to rental or purchase fees, some publishers charge performance royalties, which may vary according to venue size and number of performances.

Preparing your own reduced orchestration would be a time-consuming project, but a fulfilling one for a musician with the necessary skills and tools. Fluent score-reading skills; knowledge of harmony, orchestration, and of Sullivan's operas; a full (conductor's) score; and serious music notation software are the essentials for this effort. The result would be a reduced orchestration exactly tailored for your instrumentation, venue, and cast. It might also have a commercial future; I welcome inquiries about selling your performance-tested reduced orchestrations through this website.

If your reduced orchestra includes a full string section, the string books from the full orchestration are suitable, saving a great deal of data entry. If any of the string parts are played by only one player, note that the parts occasionally call for divisi, and that page-turns which require a stand partner are the norm in some editions. If your ensemble includes percussion, the percussion book from the full orchestration is similarly suitable. Full-orchestra wind parts are less suitable because of the difficulty of inserting notes from missing instruments.

Piano can reinforce or replace a small string section, and the piano accompaniments in commercial piano-vocal scores typically present Sullivan's string voicings faithfully. Those piano-vocal arrangements also contain simplified passages from the wind parts, and you may want your pianist to omit these if your wind players have them covered. There's an advantage to the more percussive sound of a piano, as compared with the relatively mushy sound of strings, to help an amateur cast to hear tempo changes and entrance cues securely. And a pianist who learned the show along with your cast in rehearsal can be helpful in performance, especially in case of trouble.

Note8 Music Typesetting and Publishing offers the following materials related to reduced orchestrations:

What should orchestral musicians know about Sullivan's dynamics?

These notes are intended to help conductors and orchestra members understand Sullivan's use of dynamic markings, and my editing of those markings.

Balance

Sullivan usually indicates the same dynamic level for all instruments. Thus a dynamic marking applies to the ensemble as a whole, and in particular a fortissimo marking does not give brass or percussion players carte blanche to abandon tasteful playing.

As a superb orchestrator, Sullivan knew the dynamic implications of the different registers of the instruments he used. Tastefully played, his voicings should present few balance problems. But note that Sullivan wrote for a substantial string section, a large chorus, and professional solo singers, and that his performance venue had good acoustics and a real orchestra pit. Different performing conditions from these will affect balance, both within the orchestra and with the stage.

Pit musicianship

More significant than the absolute dynamic level of any instrument at any time is the functional role of that instrument in the ensemble. Musicians should be constantly aware of whether they're playing The Melody (solo, with other instruments, or doubling singers), a countermelody, a decorative "fill" between phrases of The Melody, or accompaniment to the above. The markings "solo" or "soli" can provide clues to understanding these various roles, but often only sketchily.

As well as dynamics, these functional roles might determine a musician's choices about tone quality, phrasing, and so forth. Rehearsals, both with and without singers, offer pit musicians the best opportunity to understand these roles and to learn to adjust their playing accordingly. Legible, accurate, typeset parts and full scores allow conductors and musicians to devote precious rehearsal time to this process, instead of finding and fixing problems in the materials.

Mezzo markings

Sullivan appears to have restricted his dynamic palette to pp, p, f, and ff. The mezzo markings (mf and mp) occur rarely enough to be suspect. The dynamic contrast between p and f should therefore be less than in music that uses six or more dynamic levels.

When an instrument enters part-way through a crescendo, mezzo markings sometimes indicate joining the crescendo at an intermediate dynamic level. This pattern occurs frequently enough that these specific mezzo markings may well be authentic.

History

The premiere productions of Sullivan's operas typically ran for several years. His orchestras would play the same opera week after week, apparently with little change in personnel. As the operas matured and evolved, such details as adjustments to dynamics and pauses for stage business would have been marked into the parts only informally, with little incentive to capture them in the master materials accurately or consistently. Sets of parts made up for touring companies might not have reflected these adjustments, or might have developed variants of their own.

These incomplete, inconsistent sets of parts became the basis for the orchestra materials that are available to performing companies today. Using these materials to present an effective performance, let alone an authentic one, demands both good taste and good scholarship on the part of conductors and editors.

What should percussionists and conductors know about Sullivan's drum parts?

Click here.

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