Music without ties

In typesetting the music for Cardoso450 the aim is, as far as possible, to replicate the clarity and simplicity of the original choirbooks and partbooks but using the modern score format. To this end, barlines are not used since they interrupt the clear flow of the melodic line and over-emphasise the hierarchy of beats. Some other editions that seek to preserve the visual continuity of melody do so using the Mensurstricht layout, placing the barlines between the staves. The problem here is two-fold. First, the barlines actually become more prominent since they span almost an entire system, and, secondly, they intersect the text. 

In removing barlines entirely, longer notes often present difficulties. In the past, a note whose duration spanned the end of one system and the beginning of the next was dealt with by printing the whole note value and leaving the appropriate gap at the start of the next system. While aesthetically pleasing, this solution was found to be problematic, especially given the way professional choirs rehearse, i.e. immediately prior to the service and often not for very long. The music should be as user friendly and immediately accessible as possible. To that end, the most recent editions have used ties where necessary to connect one system to another, and this hybrid solution has worked well in practice.

The ideal would be to remove the need for ties completely, but this is often only possible using choirbook or partbook formatting. And so, by way of an experiment, we trialed a dual format edition of Morago De profundis on Sunday gone. The motet was available to the choir as both score and choirbook; the choir read from the choirbook and direction was given from the score. Individual lines certainly benefitted from this format; the removal of the safety net of reading the other voices in score created a heightened tension in performance. Undoubtedly the brevity of this motet gave us an advantage; something longer would be considerably more challenging for the ensemble on short rehearsal, to say nothing of the work necessary to create the edition in the first place! But we shall create more dual format editions when possible, perhaps of more extended works in due course.

In the meantime, feel free to download and use the A3 scores here.