Is My Score Finished?

This is a brilliant checklist for anyone trying to do engraving or proofreading of notation. The list has been compiled courtesy of Matthew Karaś of Toronto Music Service, a fine engraver (interestingly, mostly of complex pop music transcriptions) and a major contributor to the group.

Did you…

  • Double check the paper size/margins?
  • Try various layouts (systems per page, measures per system) to best suit the paper size/number of pages?
  • One last check for reducing awkward page turns?
  • Optimize staff spacing (automatic, manually, or both)?
  • Parts match the score? No graphics or text were lost in translation?
  • Align all floating text along the Y-axis?
  • Level all hairpins with accompanying dynamics?
  • Place dynamics are appropriate level from the staff (not straying from the notehead), not so close they’re clashing?
  • If a grand staff, are the dynamics/hairpins in the midpoint of the staff (where applicable)?
  • Right hand to God, did you use the Music Font, the whole Music Font, and nothing but the Music Font for dynamics?
  • Remove redundant text/accidentals/other superfluous information?
  • Kern all necessary measures, noteheads, accidentals?
  • Ensure that dynamics are below the staff/tempo and performance directions are above?
  • Square the metronome mark with the leftmost edge of the time signature?
  • Check all of the slurs, hyphens, and punctuation?
  • One last check for visual crowding/collisions?

5 thoughts on “Is My Score Finished?”

  1. I have a similar checklist. Came up with it about 12 years ago… published it on the Finale Forum back then. I can think of another half dozen things that I add to my checklist as I finish writing my string quartet. 1) look for instances were courtesy accidentals would be appropriate. 2) polish up slurs, especially slurs that go over a system. 3) check position of measure numbers in parts (in the bass clef and alto clef, the measure numbers tend to be “high” over the staff and should be lowered), 4) If you use a running footer (which I do, so that everyone knows what movement is looked at if you open a page randomly) and footer page numbers…. and for those who have different page margins depending up left and right pages…. to make sure that these all line up properly… to make sure that some of the latter pages are not all the same margin because you added them later. 5) remove triplet numbers over the latter portion of a passage when there are a lot of triplets…. because you need the numbers only on the first 3 or 4 triplets). 6) In your parts, make sure that a clef change at the end of a multi-measure rest figure does not overlap with the figure, 7) in parts, do you have cues from other instruments when helpful?, 8) In a multi-instrument work, makes sure that when you have slurs covering similar passages that they all end the same (for example, if you have 10 instruments that have a slur that ends on the first note of measure 85 but in one of the instruments the slur ends at the end of measure 84…. that might look a little funny). 9) Make sure that you define, with dynamics, what you want at the end of a hairpin (at least this applies to most cases… perhaps not for adjoining “bookcase” hairpins.” That is, are you missing important dynamic markings.

  2. Place dynamics are appropriate level from the staff (not straying from the notehead), not so close they’re clashing? Q: should it read “place dynamics AT appropriate level…”?

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