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Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation

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Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, conventions and themes to complex instrumental techniques, empowering the reader to prepare music with total clarity and precision. With the advent of computer technology, it has never been more important for musicians to have ready access to principles of best practice in this dynamic field, and this book will support the endeavors of software users and devotees of hand-copying alike. The author's understanding of, and passion for, her subject has resulted in a book that is not only practical but also compellingly readable. This seminal and all-encompassing guide encourages new standards of excellence and accuracy and, at a weighty 704 pages, it is supported by 1,500 music examples of published scores from Bach to Xenakis.


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Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, conventions and themes to complex instrumental techniques, empowering the reader to prepare music with total clarity and precision. With the advent of computer technology, it has never been more important for musicians to have ready access to principles of best practice in this dynamic field, and this book will support the endeavors of software users and devotees of hand-copying alike. The author's understanding of, and passion for, her subject has resulted in a book that is not only practical but also compellingly readable. This seminal and all-encompassing guide encourages new standards of excellence and accuracy and, at a weighty 704 pages, it is supported by 1,500 music examples of published scores from Bach to Xenakis.

30 review for Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book is absolutely superb. Anyone who works with creating music notation - be they composer or copyist - should have this book on their shelves, in my opinion, because it covers pretty much everything. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read the blog post I wrote about it here: http://caitlinrowley.com/journal/2011/03/07/awesomeness-behind-bars/ This book is absolutely superb. Anyone who works with creating music notation - be they composer or copyist - should have this book on their shelves, in my opinion, because it covers pretty much everything. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read the blog post I wrote about it here: http://caitlinrowley.com/journal/2011/03/07/awesomeness-behind-bars/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Ms Gould's lengthy reference has rightly become the bible of music notation, the standard that most people in the industry (music engravers, publishers, and composers) regard as most comprehensive and most authentic. Like any style guide, it is not officially sanctioned to the point that it is beyond question, but, as with language style guides, it is taken seriously because the author has both personal experience dealing with the issues (widely regarded for her own work as an engraver) and beca Ms Gould's lengthy reference has rightly become the bible of music notation, the standard that most people in the industry (music engravers, publishers, and composers) regard as most comprehensive and most authentic. Like any style guide, it is not officially sanctioned to the point that it is beyond question, but, as with language style guides, it is taken seriously because the author has both personal experience dealing with the issues (widely regarded for her own work as an engraver) and because recommendations (not rules) are so well thought out and clearly argued with strong reasoning points. Any notator of music who knows better on any given issue is, of course, free to do what he or she pleases. By way of background: I have been close to classical music my entire life, was at one time a composer of complex music, and I spent twenty years of my working career doing mostly music engraving for a living. (The term "engraving" is a misnomer, as it's been a very long time since anyone has etched metal plates to set music, but the term has stuck in the industry even up to today, where almost all printed music is set electronically.) As a result, I considered myself somewhat of an "expert" on the subject of music notation when I first opened the cover of Ms. Gould's book. But I'd failed to recall that the problems of music engravers extend way beyond the principles of how to read music that everyone's old lady piano teacher taught him in early grade school years. Engravers must also deal with problems of layout (for page turns and other concerns), part extraction, cueing, coordination, and today an enormous array of special techniques that have arisen in the written music of composers during the last fifty years or so. Music notation is an art form, very much intrinsic to music composition, but also a discipline worthy of the highest respect on its own. It has been my experience that Behind Bars, even as a fairly new publication, has earned itself a place at the top of publications that are dedicated to explaining the art's current practice. The book is as close to complete as one could imagine and extremely well written and edited (in British English style -- I'll admit that I still have not been able to adjust to the use of stave rather than staff for a single instance of the horizontal lines that music is written on). Of supreme importance, the graphical presentation is superb, with examples immediately following (or sometimes preceding) examples, or in some cases well cross-referenced. There is, of course, an extensive index, a feature that is indispensable in a reference work of this type and magnitude. It took me a long time to get through this book, reading just a few pages at a time, but I did read every page. I'm sure not everything stuck in my brain, but at least now I know where to look for advice if and when I have questions about problems in music notation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Mego

    I'm not sure this is a book you "finish", but one you read over and over in bits and pieces. But what you want to know is why you'd ever want to pick it up, right? Let's be clear... You WILL want this book if you are: A Composer. A Copyist (if you don't know what this is, you aren't one). A Music Librarian (there are such things). Have any interest or cause in writing any music onto paper OR engraving software for any reason. You will NOT want this book if: You consider yourself a "hobbyist". You I'm not sure this is a book you "finish", but one you read over and over in bits and pieces. But what you want to know is why you'd ever want to pick it up, right? Let's be clear... You WILL want this book if you are: A Composer. A Copyist (if you don't know what this is, you aren't one). A Music Librarian (there are such things). Have any interest or cause in writing any music onto paper OR engraving software for any reason. You will NOT want this book if: You consider yourself a "hobbyist". You don't understand traditional western musical notation reasonably well (or are learning). You don't really see yourself writing down music, or if you do, are more about using sequencing software or non-western notations instead. Why all this? Because this book is the end all, be all, first stop and last resource for those who have the serious need for engraving rules and techniques. I'm a composer. This is like God coming back with an extra four thousand commandments with the apologetic handwritten note, "Sorry the last bunch didn't include all the ones to make your life way easier!"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Acer Pseudoplantatus

    The subtitle "the definitive guide to music notation" is definitely earned. Except for ethnic/folk instruments and electric guitars, pretty much every instrument is covered. And not just that, everything covered is covered well; conventions are not only shown but explained, alternatives are often given, as well as advice on when to best use them. The print and paper-qualities are perfect, the notational style as well. The structure is logical and navigating the book is as convenient as can be. M The subtitle "the definitive guide to music notation" is definitely earned. Except for ethnic/folk instruments and electric guitars, pretty much every instrument is covered. And not just that, everything covered is covered well; conventions are not only shown but explained, alternatives are often given, as well as advice on when to best use them. The print and paper-qualities are perfect, the notational style as well. The structure is logical and navigating the book is as convenient as can be. More than worth every cent.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    It doesn't have everything I need in it, but it's indispensable nonetheless.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Elliott

    THE music manuscriping reference work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Bryla

    Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, conventions and themes to complex instrumental techniques, empowering the reader to prepare music with total clarity and pr Behind Bars is the indispensable reference book for composers, arrangers, teachers and students of composition, editors, and music processors. In the most thorough and painstakingly researched book to be published since the 1980s, specialist music editor Elaine Gould provides a comprehensive grounding in notational principles. Behind Bars covers everything from basic rules, conventions and themes to complex instrumental techniques, empowering the reader to prepare music with total clarity and precision. With the advent of computer technology, it has never been more important for musicians to have ready access to principles of best practice in this dynamic field, and this book will support the endeavours of software users and devotees of hand-copying alike. The author's understanding of, and passion for, her subject has resulted in a book that is not only practical but also compellingly readable. This seminal and all-encompassing guide encourages new standards of excellence and accuracy and, at a weighty 704 pages, it is supported by 1,500 music examples of published scores from Bach to Xenakis. This is a hardback book, with dust jacket. Contents: Section I - General Conventions: Ground Rules; Chords Dotted notes Ties; Accidentals and Key Signatures; Dynamics and Articulation; Grace Notes, Arpeggiated Chords, Trills, Glissandos and Vibrato; Metre; Tuplets; Repeat Signs; Section II - Idiomatic Notation: Woodwind and Brass; Percussion; Keyboard; Harp; Classical Guitar; Strings; Vocal Music; Section III - Layout and Presentation: Preparing Materials; Score Layout; Part Preparation; Electroacoustic Music; Freedom and Choice.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    My go-to book for all notation questions. The Strunk and White of music engraving.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Loew

  10. 4 out of 5

    Harkins Loh

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bob Hayden-Gilbert

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tanner Pfeiffer

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

  15. 4 out of 5

    Logan Cain

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aldrin Jason

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Call

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave Roche

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  21. 5 out of 5

    Greg Pfeil

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charles Weaver

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Galik

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Castellani Jr

  26. 5 out of 5

    Georg

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  28. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark McGlinchey

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