The webmaster is posting the following "insider" information from Dr. Charles Norman Mason, who was Chairman of the Music Department of Birmingham Southern College and Chief Staff Executive of The Living Music Foundation, Inc., as a service to members and anyone interested in submitting scores and tapes for competitions, conferences, festivals, or other composer opportunities listed regularly in "LIVING MUSIC journal" Mason is now Executive Director of The Living Music Foundation, Inc. We expect an update momentarily:
Having served on several selection committees as well as having submitted to numerous competitions, concert committees, and performers and from discussing these issues with my colleagues, I offer the following information to other composers who may want advice on submitting scores.
First of all, scores that are easy to read with a professional looking cover have a better chance with selection committees whether or not those committees are made up of composers or performers. It is to your advantage to submit scores that look professional. When selection committees receive over 300 submissions they are unlikely to take the time to figure out what the score sounds like if it does not look like the composer cared about how it looked. Today the standards for score appearance are much higher than they were before desktop publishing became accessible to everyone. I estimate that fifteen years ago it was common to have 99% of submissions to be scores that were handwritten. Now, maybe only 5% are not done on computers and these are usually by composers who are already established and who will be programmed simply because of their reputation.
That being said, simply having scores notated with the aid of computers is not sufficient to make the score look professional because computers are basically stupid when it comes to notation. Expect to spend hours editing a computer-generated score. In fact, I have found that it takes me just as long to notate a score on the computer as it did when I carefully used rulers and ink pens. In spite of its steep learning curve, I use Finale because it is the most flexible. In addition to all of the proof-reading that goes into finishing a score, composers should carefully check page turns, spacing within measures, adding reminder accidentals where necessary, inserting rehearsal numbers and making sure enharmonics are easy for the performer to understand and play.
Although composers use many of the same computer notation programs, I see characteristic differences from the scores of one composer to those of another. This simply means that a great deal of design and editing still goes into putting the score together over and above that which a computer will automatically do for you.
Scores should be bound. There are several ways to bind, but avoid stapling, paper clipping, or loose binding (as one might do submitting a book manuscript). I have never been on a committee where I looked at an excerpt removed from a score. Sometimes it is appropriate to send only a page or two of your score if you are doing a mass mailing to numerous performers. But if you are submitting as a result of a "call for scores" submit the complete score.
On the cover or the title page, give your name, address, phone number, and E-mail address, and inside the cover give duration and program notes. Of course, this is a general rule which does not apply if the work is to be submitted anonymously.
As far as tapes are concerned, whenever possible, submit a tape only when it is a good performance, and put only one piece on each tape. Remove the cassette's tabs so that it is not accidentally erased or recorded over. I also use a computer to print out the cover of my tapes. This may not be absolutely necessary, but it contributes to professional appearance. In any case, make sure the tape has the title of the piece, the composer's name, address, and phone number.
I would further advise you never to send in a tape of a MIDI realization or a recording of a poor performance. I have found that not including a tape is usually better than including a tape that is a poor representation of the piece, and for the most part, MIDI tapes are poor representations. I have heard of selection committees that immediately rejected submissions that included tapes of MIDI realizations.
Personally, I never use Noise Reduction, although I am sure many composers do. The reason I do not is that I am afraid that the person listening to the tape may not know the difference between the various types of Noise Reduction and may use the wrong one to decode my tape. I am more certain that if they are told No Noise Reduction they will know what to do than if they are told Dolby C or B or DBX.
Attach to each score a cover letter with your bio, address and phone number, and a list of what has been submitted. I sometimes include SASE (self addressed stamped envelopes). Sometimes I do not, depending on deadlines and how much time I have to put the package together. Of course, if an SASE is not included, the composer should not be offended if the scores are tossed in the trash.
- © 1997 Charles Norman Mason
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To: Dwight Winenger
- Date: 14 Jul 1997 13:10:04 PDT
- Subject: Re: score submission
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