Thursday, May 13


Work is interesting. I love my job (I'm a Music Editor and Engraver for a music publishing company in San Diego), but it can just get way too hectic sometimes. Like right now. We've had people coming in and out of the office, helping us look over what will soon be our newest offering to the school band community. Just a whole lot of busyness... productive busyness, but it's difficult to manage the volume of it all.

But anyway, that's just life, I guess. You may be wondering what exactly my job title means. Most everybody does when I first tell them. So I'll explain it here, in my third blog entry, so nobody will ever have the opportunity to wonder.

I actually have two jobs that can be construed as two aspects of the same thing. Usually, though, it's two people. Basically, when a composer submits a manuscript to our publishing company, it is first reviewed by all of the Editors on the staff so we can decide whose work we will agree to publish. Once the contract is done, we generally let the piece sit on someone's shelf for about a year before we get around to working on it (kind of kidding here, but it's happened!).

When an editor finds the time to work on a manuscript, he/she will look through it and correct all of the mistakes in "musical grammar": i.e. the distance between notes, the length of note-stems, the distance between noteheads and articulations, etc. It can get pretty technical, but it's not unlike what an editor does who deals with language.

After the editor has "prepped" the manuscript (or marked it up in red pen), he/she sends it off to the engraver. The engraver takes the music and the corrections and makes a professional-looking piece of sheet music. Most of the time these days, engraving is done by computer. I use a program, developed by MakeMusic! Inc., called Finale. It is basically a graphics program, set up to work with and control all of the fine details that go into music notation.

Once the engraver is finished with the first draft, it is sent back to the editor for proofing. A few rounds of corrections and proofing ensue, and finally the editor decides it's ready and hands it over to the Art department. The artists place the music on the page, insert all of the text in the fonts we use, and set it up to be printed. Our company has its own print shop, and it's pretty cool. I can't tell you a whole lot about the printing, though. I visited the print shop once, not too long after I started here, but that's really not my area of expertise.

Anyway, after the piece is laid out and printed it sits in the Shipping warehouse, which is in the same facility as the print shop. From there, it gets sent out all around the world to music dealers who sell our music.

And I'm there in the first part. I've edited some music (mostly college-level Concert Band works) and I've engraved some music (mostly high-school level Concert Band and String Orchestra works), but rarely have I edited and engraved the same piece. I've done this on two separate concert band tunes, but both times I've brought in another editor at the first-round proofing stage just to get someone else's eyes on it. Editing your own work can be disastrous, you know... it's good to give it to someone else you trust, from essays to term papers to music notation.

Well, I've spent about 15 minutes writing this, and I'm at work, so I should finish up my busy workday. Only 45 minutes left, and then only one more day 'til the weekend!

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.