By Patrick M. Liebergen

Carefully preparing any choral manuscript before submitting it for possible publication is an important part of achieving success as a writer. When creating a manuscript for submission, great attention must be given to every detail on the score in order to completely and clearly represent the musical intention of the composer, editor, or arranger. Additionally, the manuscript must be artistically rendered with appropriate tempo and dynamic indications as well as other markings, such as titles and subtitles, slurs, breath marks, and fermatas.

If the submission is an edition and/or arrangement of a masterwork, the author must be prepared to supply a hard copy of the source with the date of its original publication, which will clarify what has been done to the original version and that the source is in the public domain. If indeed any part of the submission is not in the public domain, then it is the author’s responsibility to provide the publisher information about music or words under copyright.

For over 20 years, I have completed numerous editions and arrangements of choral masterworks for Alfred Music Publishing Company using original source materials. Since each of my editions is readily useable by today’s singers and contains a wealth of information for a modern day performance, this type of work can be considered a “practical edition.”  Based on an original source and staying true to the intention of the composer,  a “practical edition” is in a contemporary format. It may contain additional items for optimum performance, including modern clefs, traditional note values, tempo and metronomic indications, dynamic indications, an optional text in English if an original source is in a foreign language, fermatas at the end of the music, and a keyboard realization of the original basso continuo part. Occasionally optional notes that either fill in chords or provide lower or high-sounding notes as alternatives may also be included. Everything is clearly labeled as editorial either on the musical score with the use of brackets or in the “editor’s note,” enabling the conductor and singer to perceive what has been done to the original version.

In comparison to an edition of a masterwork which stays true to the intention of the composer, an arrangement is a deliberate alteration of either the composer’s original intent or the commonly known musical material, such as a folk song or hymn. For example, an arrangement may involve a total reworking of a particular piece of music for another performance medium (i.e., a solo revised for choral performance) and the basic musical elements (such as melody, harmony, and rhythm) may be changed and new musical material may be added. Additionally, the music may be reset with different words.

Once a piece is accepted for publication, I usually complete a page of editorial remarks for inclusion in the octavo. Depending on the amount of space available, that kind of information may include a listing of where I found the original source (such as in the published music of one composer or in an anthology) and what changes have been made to that source. Biographical information about the composer, the historical background of the selection, a literal translation and a pronunciation guide of a non-English text, usually incorporating a transliteration, are all quite valuable for educating the performer and achieving an authentic performance.

For a complete listing of Patrick Liebergen’s choral publications available from Alfred, click here.

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