These are general guidelines put together by many experienced composers,
performers, conductors and programmers who have worked with spnm. Follow
them and you shouldn't get many complaints about the way your performance
materials are notated – leaving the performers free to get on with
Remember that some of these guidelines will not apply if you are submitting
your score to a call for pieces which requires it to be anonymous!
Cover must include title of work, name of composer
Inside cover must include:
title of work
name of composer
list of movements if applicable
instrumentation: number of performers should be clear, all doublings given.
State whether transposing instruments are written in C or transposed.
Include instructions on preparation required in advance (e.g. for prepared
piano), non-standard instruments, any acceptable alternative instrumentations,
specific requirements for electronics and amplification
specific performance requirements, e.g. stage layout
notation: glossary of all non-standard terms
instruments / voices should be listed in standard order unless there is
a specific reason otherwise (e.g. an orchestra divided in two distinct
instrument / voice names should appear by each stave; in full on first
page and in an abbreviated form on all others. Abbreviations are not necessary
on small scores for standard instrumentations, e.g. string quartet
ensure that notes are vertically aligned between instruments
tempi should be given with metronome markings if possible (give a range
if you don't want to be specific)
choirs prefer to sing from a vocal score, not from individual parts
text should appear below music and should be laid out clearly in line
with the notes. Dynamics should be above
time-signature changes should appear on all parts –not just above
the top part
singers appreciate having a full copy of the text at the start of the
Scores and parts
be scrupulously clear at all times!
if in doubt as to whether a marking should be included, put it in –especially
performers often appreciate a short programme note printed in their part
present scores in a standard size and layout. Parts should be in portrait
format and usually no larger than B4.
firmly bind performance materials, ensuring that pages can be turned easily
time signature changes must be very clear, with a cautionary indication
at the end of the previous stave if the change is over a line-break
show the beats in bars such as 5/8 and 7/8 – /\ & |–| symbols
if key-signatures are used they should appear on every line. Use cautionary
indications as for time signatures
provide clear and frequent bar numbers, and rehearsal letters if they
would be useful
articulation markings must be unambiguous – particularly distinguish
between slurs, tied notes and phrasing
use white paper, heavier than normal photocopier paper – preferably
if computer-produced, avoid using fussy or unclear fonts for any text.
Use italics for dynamics and expression marks, roman for technique (e.g.
never send off original hand-written scores or parts without taking a
good-quality photocopy. If possible (and definitely if they are in pencil)
use the photocopy for performance materials as originals can smudge and
fade. If using pencil use a dark lead so that it photocopies clearly
use waterproof ink
include relevant information on doublings, instrument preparation, non-standard
terms, etc. as they appear on inside cover of score
each page should be numbered and include the instrument name
spacing is important – give each note within a bar the space equivalent
to its duration
give as much time as possible for page turns, leaving blank spaces at
the bottom of a page if necessary
give cues if these could be useful. Make sure that they are clearly marked
as such and that they appear after rather than before any page turns.
Remember that it's not always the cue most obvious to the audience which
is actually the clearest to a performer. In complex unconducted music
a separate cue-line is useful. Always make sure that cues are in the transposition
of the part you are producing
in instrumental parts dynamics & expression markings appear below
the stave; tempi and techniques (e.g. arco) above
if possible avoid parts which fold out to more than three pages
strings: mark instructions such as open strings (use a zero, 0), harmonics
(use a small circle, o) and double stops clearly and unambiguously.
if using a computer, stave size 6.7mm is good for parts. If the music
is particularly complex use 7mm.
don't change clef unnecessarily!