publishing philosophy 


PPE is celebrating just over five years of publication, and is here responding to various comments, in particular how they differ from editions which first appeared about the time of their composition. Apart from being able to start afresh with an excellent score-writing application and a completely clean palette, I was able to redesign the layout without any limitations, including  paper economy, a non-negligible cost in the past. Always with respect for composers’ wishes I aim to produce clear working texts, and list below some of the basic principles which define it :

  • barlines — sometimes modified to draw attention to changes of metre — use of dotted barlines to show phrase lengths
  • beaming and time-signatures — sometimes modified to facilitate reading and memory
  • key-signatures — sometimes modified to reduce or eliminate accidentals 
  • phrase marks — often eliminated to avoid overloading the page — I believe that these curved lines should serve a more meaningful purpose than mere legato
  • spelling of accidentals — sometimes modified to reduce their number
  • note size — modification to underline melodic or harmonic importance
  • staves — use of one or three instead of the automatic two, generally with a maximum of five per page to improve spacing and clarity
  • page turns and repeats — layout planned to make this easier
  • changes of clef on a single stave — avoidance if possible
  • articulation signs — avoiding overload
  • rests — avoiding the unnecessary
  • fingering — avoiding overload by omitting the obvious
  • dynamics — there are sometimes too many — I believe that artists need more freedom to inspire individuality
  • sustaining pedal — only indicated when not obvious. As Debussy once said… “pedalling cannot be written down. It varies from one instrument to another, from one room, or one hall, to another.”
  • sostenuto pedal — First shown in Paris at the Industrial Exposition of 1844, the invention was not immediately taken up by piano builders. In 1874, is was perfected and patented by Steinway, soon to be fitted on all their grands and better uprights. One obvious commercial reason for not including the sostenuto pedal in musical scores must have been the thought of excluding buyers whose pianos didn’t have it. Debussy and Ravel certainly played such Steinways in the Paris salons. One could say that it took over 100 years for it to become widespread, and PPE suggests its use whenever possible — always within the confines of “good taste”.

Ray Alston  

February 2023

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