In preparation for tomorrow’s String Project gig at The Cellar (advance tickets still available today – otherwise £5 on the door, which is still excellent value for the strength of the bill), I am getting my music in order. Last week I mentioned that I was working on the idea of fixing quarter sized scores to the side of the double bass with masking tape but I’ve since come up with a few refinements.
Firstly, that masking tape thing. It doesn’t seen to have caused any damage but I can see that it might build up a sticky residue over time. Instead of this, I have now tied a “necklace” of string round the upper shoulders of the bass which the scores can be hooked onto.
Secondly, there was the issue of illumination. As it turns out, someone forgot to turn off the house lights for our set last week but, during the rehearsal, I was reminded that stage lighting is designed to look cool rather than make it easy to follow music. The string serves a second purpose, allowing me to add a small reading light, just enough to keep my place even when the main lights go down.
Thirdly, the A6 size was a little on the small side, particularly for pieces that flow onto two pages. I am now creating copies of the music I need on A4 sheets but with larger margins (6cm at the top, 2.5cm at either side and 1cm at the bottom) and then adjusting the music to fit on one side within this constraint by a combination of shrinking the score size and using tricks like “percent repeats” (a space-saving way of indicating that a phrase is played multiple times). The output can then be folded to fit neatly between the ridges at the front and back of the bass body and with a large tab at the top to drop behind the string and keep the score in place.
In all this formatting and printing of music, hats off to Lilypond which gives me extensive control of how my music is “engraved”. This morning’s invaluable discovery has been that I can use external snippets with a \include directive. For example, I can now set up the margins by calling on a predefined snippet instead of typing the commands in full in each file. Should I decide that I only need a 5cm margin at the top, that means I only need to redefine the layout in a single file and can then regenerate all the relevant scores with another short command. I probably should mention at this point that Lilypond requires a certain degree of programmer mindset but that is perfect for a geek like me!