It’s essential to proofread your score before publishing. Proofreading any printed piece of music is challenging; however, proofreading an orchestral score on your own is a monumental task. If you have a ninety-piece orchestra, you must proofread the conductor’s score and orchestra parts. My last orchestral score was around six hundred pages; that’s a lot of proofreading. You can expect to miss a few minor mistakes when proofreading something that large yourself. I think it’s just an unfortunate reality.
If you compose in the DAW as I do, it’s tempting to think if it sounds fine, it is fine, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you’ve ever seen a DAW render your performance to notation, you know that’s not the case.
First, let’s talk about timing; a lot can go wrong. Quantizing your tracks before sending them to your music notation program can be both constructive and destructive. If you don’t quantize the track correctly, you can take the note farther away from your intended target than closer. Also, in some DAWs like Logic X, there is quantizing on the track level and quantizing on the notation level. This means the sounds produced by Logic X can differ slightly from what the DAW is notating.
Another consideration when scoring in the DAW is that the recorded instruments may be sounding in a different Octave than those played in the DAW. Some virtual instruments are sampled and transposed up or down an octave. The bases in the orchestra sound an octave lower than written; sometimes, it’s compensated for in the virtual instrument, you play a note, and it sounds in the lower octave. Synthesizers are prone to doing this as the oscillators can be tuned down or up by 5ths and octaves. So keep in mind to check the notes you’re writing are the ones being heard.
To proofread as accurately as possible, I listen to each track of my composition in the DAW while reading the notes to ensure the rhythm and pitches are correct before exporting the mxml into the music notation program. It takes a lot of time but can cut down errors significantly.
It can also help to proofread everything once or twice, then put it on a shelf for a while. Then return to proofread the composition in a week or so, it can seem fresh, and you can catch errors you may have missed.
Another option is if you know someone who can proofread your composition for you, give it to them. A fresh set of eyes is valuable in this process. If you can get help, it helps.
These are just a few ways to reduce errors when preparing your music to be published. Putting your music out into the world is a big deal; try and have fun when doing it. I’m just a music teacher having fun; catch ya on the next one.