Front matter in Dorico

I’m a fan of beautiful scores, and part of any beautiful score is sharp, clean front matter: the cover, title page, and information pages. For years, I have used Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and even Adobe InDesign for doing the text-heavy parts of scores and parts. Of course, Sibelius added text and layout tools for this several versions ago, but they were terrible and frustrating to use. Just last week, I wrote in a checklist on Scoring Notes “Do not try to do this in your scoring app! It will almost certainly end in tears.” I’m pleased to be reconsidering this advice so soon after publishing it!

After a discussion on document layouts on the always-interesting Music Engraving Tips, Steinberg’s John Barron offered to show how Dorico can be used to handle document layout. In this week’s Discover Dorico live stream, John used my piece, Linear Geometry, as an example of how to work with front matter. For fellow survivors of publishing tools like InDesign, you’ll find some delightfully familiar frame tools that you can use right inside your score file.

direct link

Thanks to John for showing me a new thing and using my work as the example, and thanks to the Dorico team for making such a delightful and powerful tool. I’m looking forward to trying this out in future projects.

If you’re a Dorico user, or just Dorico-curious, I can’t recommend John’s Discover Dorico series highly enough.

(Side note: The font John was trying to emulate in my front matter is Museo Slab, a slab serif in the Adobe TypeKit library. Guess I’ll need to find a substitute for that. )

James Tenney: Saxony (1978), perf. Ryan Muncy

This is one of the coolest things I’ve heard in a while, and it was written almost forty years ago.

James Tenney (1934 – 2006)
Saxony for one or more saxophone players and tape-delay system
perf. Ryan Muncy

Note that Tenney wrote this before personal computers could do this stuff. Today, this would be a Max or PD patch, and a relatively simple one at that. In 1978, “tape” actually meant tape.

Also, Mr. Muncy would like to teach you some things about the saxophone.


This past Sunday’s #musochat, hosted by New Music Gathering, was focused on support for new projects. I’m trying to get better at deciding to take on new projects, not take on other projects, and stopping projects that have run their course. It made me think of this talk by composer Martin Bresnick. Some might think of this direct discussion of money as a little crass.[1] But lately I’ve been thinking of “support” in terms of how much time and energy I can devote while maintaining my ideal level of mental and physical health.

This is one of Chamber Music America’s First Tuesday sessions from March 2016. In it, Bresnick talks about how much a composer should charge for a commissioning fee on a new piece of music.

There are three parts to this: you the composer, the next part is the commissioner, and the third part is the work itself.

I read a nice suggestion a while back. If the response to a new project isn’t “Hell yes!”, it has to be “no.”

  1. I might argue that those people are being a little precious.  ↩