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When And Where To Optimize

In response to several readers’ inquiries, this week we will examine the topic of optimization in the recording environment. Optimizing is a proprietary term (first coined by Finale) referring to the elimination of empty staves on a score or part to save space. As usual, the default settings with most software packages let you do […]

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February 26, 2008

Last week I said a shocking thing, so it’s probably worth repeating: So entrenched is the sequence-then-notate priority that, to succeed and survive, this generation of industrial composers has come to define compositional limits not as what they can purely imagine, but as that which they can coax a machine to perform. Thanks for your […]


February 19, 2008

Initially, notation software was just a set of tools to get us away from pencil, pen, and paper, and to get us closer to a look and feel of our output that had been standardized hundreds of years before. The advantages for desktop publishers (self-printing in any quantity, ease of transposition/editing, rudimentary MIDI playback, etc.) […]

Music Prep Strategies, Part 3: “Not-So-Common Courtesy”

February 12, 2008

This week, we kneel again at the altar of “Our Lady of the Perfect Read-Through,” at which we must be ever vigilant for anything that can help our players worship with us. Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. The full text of this article is now available in the updated and expanded eBook […]

Taking A Button And Sewing A Vest On It

February 5, 2008

I’m sure that reader Douglas Romayne spoke for many in our fraternity when he wrote me inquiring about orchestrational strategies (without sampler skullduggery) that will coax the thrills of a big orchestra out of a more modest one. In his letter, he agreed that “a good orchestrator can make 40 players sound like 60, while […]

Keeping The “Orchestra” In “Orchestration

January 29, 2008

I recently attended a symposium featuring a panel of noteworthy composers for video games. In listening to demos of their latest scores, I noticed a couple of things which may prove insightful. For backup, I discussed these observations with several friends active in that wing of the industry. Thanks for your interest in The Chart […]

When Great Is The Enemy Of Good

January 22, 2008

There is a well-known but seldom-discussed truism in philosophical circles concerning when headlong pursuit of the optimum is a barrier to the successful achievement of even the minimum. In some quarters it’s called “analysis paralysis,” the mental block built out of oppressive expectations, perhaps traceable to our traditional institutions which cradled our career training. They […]

Slip Slidin’ Away…

January 15, 2008

No, I’m not referring to one of Rhymin’ Simon’s great early hits. I’m referring to one of the most easily recognizable instrumental effects available to the orchestrator: the trombone glissando. Hand a youngster his first trombone and invariably it’s the first sound that gets made. It was for me. It’s fun. It’s also uniquely useful […]

Some Random Thoughts,” er, “Some Thoughts on Random

January 8, 2008

The other night I saw a documentary on legendary Las Vegas cheats that included a profile of a video slot machine manipulator whose “success” in unfairly beating the machines was based on insider knowledge and experience with the software which ran them and inspired insight of his own into how computers work. Included was his […]

A Path to Quick and Reliable

December 18, 2007

It happens to all of us eventually. A client makes a request of you, way late or even after the game, that forces you to do things out of sequence and, therefore, inefficiently; sometimes very inefficiently. You have a choice, deal with it and get it done or make an issue out of it and […]