The road ends, but the journey continues...

SwS project status & my basic music score editing process

4/6 'Final Finals' music scores 100% finished!

4/6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores 100% finished!

First off, I’m thrilled to announce that 4 of the 6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores mentioned in the previous post are 100% finished. Nestled in their respective PDFs, each are ready to be distributed in multiple media formats when the time comes. Their timing is intertwined with the release of both the vignette and recorded music parts of related content from the overall SwS project.
That said, the Goat Suite (Saga) scores are not even ‘Final Finals’ yet even though the music has been recorded and ready for mastering since 2017 and the related vignettes are now nearing the formatting stage for publication. The original scores are still scruffy with scribbles from the recording sessions.
Given that Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) will be the first section of the project to be released, those scores are now top priority for beginning the Final editing process. For a sense of what’s involved, my Goat Suite (Saga) is written for 2 classical guitars, mandolin, 12-string acoustic guitar and rain stick. I have the Master Score pretty much done, but the details specific to each individual part need to be entered onto each of the extracted part scores.
Here then, is an overview of my basic music score editing process, as promised.

  1. Enter original hand scored piece in NOTION – just the notes, no dynamics, interpretive suggestions, fingerings, etc.
  2. Fix weird quirks that NOTION places in score regardless of how info is entered (ie-stem direction, rests, location of text info, etc.)
  3. Print it out and play from that score to approach fingerings with a fresh eye and jot down
  4. Add fingerings, and simple dynamics in NOTION, print out for spacing/alignments and jot down by hand extra needs for score as play through it.
  5. Continue with edits (#2, #3 & #4) with an eye for keeping the score uncluttered and easy to read for the player yet filled with the needed information.
  6. Add title, composer, dedication, copyright, etc. info and arrange text nicely on score, sometimes defying NOTION conventions.
  7. If composition has more than one instrument, extract each part from Master Score for individual print out.
  8. Print Master Score and any extracted parts scores to PDF and print out to proof.
  9. Proof as needed.
  10. Repeat #5, #8 and #9 until becomes a true FINAL, then print to PDF.

Using my arrangement of Mo Giolla Mear as an example, here are photo’s of the process continuing from its mention in a previous post.

The following two score photos correspond to steps #1, #2 and #3 of the basic process overview:

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

My hand scored copies alongside (then) newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

Mo Giolla Mear excerpt

The next score excerpt photo corresponds to steps #5 & #6 – check out measure 8 for an easy to see example of a stem direction fix in addition to the overall inclusions of fingerings, dynamics, etc.

Mo Giolla Mear edited excerpt

 This last score excerpt photo corresponds to step #10 and is from the final PDF:

3 Mo Giolla Mear Final Excerpt

 Whew! I hope this answers some of the questions you my readers have asked about what it means when I mention ‘doing score edits.’ Much like literary edits, it can be tedious but the end result is the pot of gold at the base of a very beautiful rainbow.


  1. Jennie L Fitzkee

    Laura, this is over my head. All I can say is way to go, and I’m so impressed!!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, teach!

  2. tierneycreates

    That is amazing!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for taking the time to look over my Final ‘process’ grunt-work.
      The actual creation, recording & performing of the pieces is the fun part!

  3. Annika Perry

    Laura, congratulations!

  4. Marty

    Very interesting, Laura. Back in college, a very close friend of mine was a music major, and I remember how hard she had to work for a course in music theory. It’s really like a language all its own. Congrats on finishing all of this. It must feel good to have it all done.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh yes, Music Theory…actually I really absorbed that class. Lots of work but for me easier than ‘ear training’ (not the same as what is popularly known as playing by ear – rather, hearing pitches, intervals, melody fragments, rhythms and being able to write them down on staff paper and/or identifying what type of interval heard etc….anyway TMI!!!)
      Thanks for the kudos, Marty!

  5. Ally Bean

    Wow! I knew editing music was complex, but have never seen what you shared here. Once upon a time I could read music, played instruments, but I don’t remember seeing anything as multilayered as these examples. Cool bean, says I.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’ll take the cool bean award, thank you kindly Ally!

  6. Mariss Stevens

    Oh well done. It looks like completing a music score is much much harder than finishing a quilt. I wish I knew more about music, but I can say that I love the titles.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Glad to hear the titles grab you!
      Thanks for stopping by, Mariss.

  7. Anne

    It’s a complicated process, and I am in awe of what you do. It seems akin to editing a novel….which makes me wonder if there are sites where musicians can sell their scores. Or doesn’t it work like that?

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yep, there are sites like that and I’m looking into one that other musician buddies use and recommend.
      And you’re right about it being similar to the editing process a novel goes through…

  8. Catherine de Seton

    definitely well over my head, but fantastic that you know and have skill and knowledge base to interpret the initial “sound of song” and then make it flow properly… (excuse my primitive terminology)

    • laura bruno lilly

      not primitive terminology – expressive terminology…
      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Catherine.

  9. Jill Weatherholt

    Congratulations on conquering your goals, Laura. This is so impressive.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hey, Jill…thanks so much. You certainly understand about those literary edits – eh?

  10. Jane Chesebrough

    Although I don’t understand the language of music production , you have helped me to see that it is a long process that takes patience and perseverance.Congratulations on accomplishing this stage of the task!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Jane, I’m thrilled you stick with me on these more technical posts!
      Thanks for the pat on the back.

  11. Lisa

    Whoa Baby! That is very impressive and I have no idea how you can do all this! Way cool and I look forward to listening to our beautiful tune!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, lady!

  12. Deborah Brasket

    How exciting! I know you are enjoying each stage of this journey, but like others, I can’t wait to see the end product. What a long and complicated process writing music!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks, Deborah – I can’t wait to “git ‘er done” either!
      The composing/writing itself is the fun/artistic realm we musicians love to live in!!!! And passing around xeroxed copies of hand scored original compositions to colleagues is usually the way it goes. Trading such pieces and them performing/recording them is part of the fun/artistic realm also, of course.
      The score editing process is more the ‘self-publishing’ aspect of the music that was once only done by professional ‘engravers’ and only for those deemed worthy of publication by sheet music companies…a much more more tedious task for us everyday working musicians. DIY is a mixed bag…more ops to get your stuff out there, but then more time involved in the ‘grunt work’ non-musical aspects of making it so!
      Sorry for the longish mini-info blurb, but my response to your comment seemed a good place to mention this!

  13. Joe Finnerty

    Your blogs continue to inspire and educate me.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I am both honored and humbled by your comment, Joe.
      ‘Tis a blessing to know an Irishman such as yourself…

  14. Andy

    Although a lot of that is over this layman’s head, I’m looking forward to hear the fruits of all your hard work.
    Ps if I can reply to your email here, I’m not a fan if Shalamar and that’s why I had to cheat with Google! Your song selection is by far superior

    • laura bruno lilly

      Whew – glad to hear your stance on (shallow) Shalamar.
      Welcome back to the cool club – heh,heh.

  15. Brigid Gallagher

    Goodness. It is indeed a lengthy process Laura, but worth it for the pot of gold.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, it ’tis indeed, Brigid.

  16. Laura

    Wow, Laura! There is quite a process to achieve a beautiful end result! I don’t understand much of what I am looking at, but thank goodness that does not stop me from enjoying music! 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Absolutely right – kind of like non-quilters enjoying a lovely quilt display. It’s all part of the mix of what it means to be an (he)artist…as you well know!

  17. L. Marie

    Oh my word, Laura! I look at that and thank God for the gift He has given you to play and compose music and so many other things. So much work you’ve done! Congratulations on meeting your goal! And your editing process is very impressive.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I think you and I can easily relate to the inner drive to ‘get it right’ in our respective editing projects – literary or musical!
      Your enthusiastic responses always make my day – thank you, L. Marie!

  18. Roseanne

    Hi Laura! I find this whole process to be fascinating. I guess it’s similar to writing a knitting or quilting pattern although so much for detailed. Since I can’t do any of those things I am thankful to know people who can. Thanks for sharing your process with us! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • laura bruno lilly

      Great similarity examples…gives us a better understanding of why many of our favorite tunes or craft patterns are unavailable for ‘purchase’. Just a lot of work involved. For myself, the motivation is that it needs to be ‘out there’ in some form or another.
      Thanks for your supportive comments, as always.

© 2024 Laura Bruno Lilly

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑