Two last warnings about score layouts, traps into which composers may easily fall.

  1. In the top example, Percussion 1 is changing from a triangle to a snare. Sibelius will blithely omit the blank staves and play back the correct instruments – but the conductor’s eye may glance across the page and think that the triangle should still be playing. That is why I have indicated the change of instrument with text and then with percussion symbols.
  2. In the bottom example, note that I have left the blank cello staff amongst the strings. Why? Because in the staff system before, there were no basses. The conductor may read along, peripherally keeping track of the bottom cello staff, and then see the basses take their place in the next reduced staff system without noting the instrument change.

Now, some may argue in both cases that a truly attentive score-reader who took the time to really learn the score would not a have a problem here. After all, don’t other classic orchestral works break these rules all the time? The answer is that your work (and mine) is not a classic – yet. You cannot count on getting the same amount of focus on your work, and it’s foolhardy to rely on it. Besides, anything you can do to make the conductor’s job easier is always appreciated. If you think you’re overworked, try picking up a baton.

Lastly, I’m noting a drop off in attention to the past couple tips dealing with score layout. But actually, this is such an important topic. You have to be your own engraver, publisher, and copyist nowadays. If these tips have slipped under your radar, please please go back and read them in full. The score you save may be your own!

Scores - Layout Traps