Music Preparation Guidelines

This is a guide for preparing orchestra parts for published Broadway Shows


  • Proofread a book before having it photo-copied.

  • All alterations and additions to the published parts must be photo-copied or prepared by computer onto full-page paste-ins.

  • Full-page paste-ins are pasted into the books with removable doubleStick adhesive or taped at the four corners so as to not complicate page turns

  • Full-page paste-ins must be identified by
    1. Name of the Show
    2. Name of the Song & it's "Big Number"
    3. Name of the book (i.e. "Reed III")
    4. Page number in the book

  • When paste-ins reach close to 40% of the book, a new book should be made, combining the retained pages with the new ones, back to back, with either a sprial or comb binding

  • The music prep person will NOT leave anything in pencil. Computerized changes are to be photo-copied or and pasted in as full-page units. This makes these changes "ink", and thus they are differentiated from any "pencil" added later by the players.

  • The advantages are that the changes cannot be accidently erased, are easier to read (blacker) and the players just "read the ink".

  • When consolidating paste-ins, every effort must be made to keep the copy at the same size as the printed part. NEVER reduce the size of the copy below 94%.

  • Never mark one part differently than the others (i.e. repeats, extra measures, inserted pieces, etc.) all parts must have the same information

  • No matter how small an inserted change/cut/addition might be, it must always be a full-page paste-in.

  • Never print bowings, fingerings, tunings, etc…

  • Avoid "double line" parts (i.e. Violin A &B in the same book) as this causes double the normal page-turns

  • Multiple-measure rests should always correspond to the musical phrasing
  • Transpositions

  • Transpositions must always be done via computer, both for future re-use and for ease of correction

  • When only a portion of a piece is transposed, the transposed portion must be pasted in and then photo-copied into a full-page paste-in

  • Transpositions must be "layed out" in the same format as the original part, including measure & rehearsal numbers as well as page-turns
  • Cuts

  • If cuts are not done on computer, the music prep person always marks cuts by
    1. blocking out the cut measures with white paper
    2. photo-copying the full page for a full-page paste-in.

  • Full page cuts should always be covered by a blank sheet of paper. Multiple page cuts should be taped together to avoid unnecessary page turns.

  • Cuts should never result in large blank spaces between staves -- the music lines must be contigous, with blank space only on the bottom of a page.

  • Cuts/Alterations should NEVER result in pages with only a few measures followed by a cut to another page of similar layout. They should be combined to make normal full-page manuscript, with blank space only on the bottom of a page.

  • When multiple cuts are made in a number, effort should be made to avoid unnecessary page turns by consolidating the remaining material onto fewer pages, with blank space only on the bottom of a page.

  • When blocking out measures, care needs to be taken to make sure that other pertinent info is still visible.

  • NEVER let the tape for paste-ins touch any of the printed matter on the original page.

  • When entering a cut, make sure to not obscure or complicate:
    1. Page turns
    2. Key Signature
    3. Time Signature
    4. Key Signature changes
    5. Time Signature changes
    6. Instrument/mute changes
    7. Arco/pizz changes
    8. measure numbers
    9. Rehearsal numbers

  • If subsequent matters cause the cut to be changed after the books are released to the players, then in the orchestra read the paste-in can easily be removed & the players can mark the changes in pencil.

  • If the music director knows that cuts or changes might be added AFTER the books have been released to the players, the affected pages are photo-copied before the books are released. If changes are made, then full-page paste-ins are given to the players at the reading.
  • Changes & Additions

  • When adding repeats:
    1. NEVER use D.C., D.S., or CODA
    2. NEVER make repeats over page turns
    3. Repeats MUST correspond with the musical phrase
    4. NEVER repeat to a measure containing only the 'repeat preceeding measure' sign
    5. ALWAYS indicate the number of multiple repeats by 'played X times'
    6. NEVER put repeats in any part unless they are in ALL parts

  • When adding measures:
    1. Added measures are numbered with lowercase letters after the original measure number (i.e. 1a,1b,1c,1d and so on)
    2. The measure immediately after the added measures resumes the original number (in this example, "2").
  • If a "tag" requires going back more than a few lines in the part, then it must be written out, NOT "back to measure x for tag".

  • If a number is reprised later in the performance, a second copy must be inserted into the books at that point, NOT "turn back to page x".
  • New parts

  • New parts must be done via computer, both for further use & for ease of correction.
    1. After completing a score, each individual part must be individually formatted.
    2. Never use the score layout for the individual parts.
    3. Always number pages.
    4. Always show measure numbers.
    5. Part layouts must reflect the phrasing of the music as it affects that part.
    6. The number of measures per line must correspond with the musical phrasing.
    7. Multiple-measure rests must correspond to the musical phrasing
    8. Never have a phrase continue over a line if it will fit one one line.
    9. Never have a phrase continue over a page-turn.
    10. Always arrange page-turns to occur during rests or at the end of a number.
    11. Never put a rest after a page turn -- put it on the preceeding page.
    12. Never use key signatures for Timp parts or French Horn parts -- always show the accidentals.
    13. Never use key signatures for mallet instruments when they are part of a multi-percussion set-up -- always show the accidentals.

  • When adding pages into a bound book always have the added pages "bind" to the center binding of the book, never have any "fold-outs"

  • When adding pages into a bound book always be aware of page-turns

  • When consolidating or re-assiging parts every effort must be made to:
    1. Assign parts to an appropriate instrument
    2. Avoid "using up all of the rests"
    3. Avoid assigning parts above or below an instrument's "normal" range
    4. Avoid assigning parts that are "out of character" for an instrument
    5. Identify re-assigned parts so as to help with style
    6. Never require a player to read from more than one book

  • When preparing a part for a "doubler" always leave adequate time for changing:
    1. instrument
    2. mute
    3. reed
    4. embouchure
    5. mallets
    6. bow
    7. Changing from Electric Bass to Acoustic Bass is a major move, & cannot be done quickly

  • When preparing a part for a "doubler" make sure that the instrument being used is clearly indicated.
    1. List all of the instruments needed on the cover of the book.
    2. Indicate “change to inst X“ at the end of the last passage for instrument Y.
    3. Leave enough time to make the instrument change possible
    4. After a change, indicate the name of the instrument above its first notes

    Standard Terms and Practices

  • When preparing parts, the terms & conventions defined here should be observed

  • These guidlines will:
    1. Enable rehearsals to deal with musical matters rather than proofreading of the parts
    2. Save rehearsal time by removing the conductor's need to talk thru changes, & the musician's need to ask about them. Since it is "the ink", there is no need to explain changes -- the musicians just read the dots on the staff!!
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