Photo credit: Genevieve Glick
I recently spoke with Andrew J. Glick, a longtime Finale user in South Riding, Virginia. Like so many musicians, it’s tough to describe Andrew’s musical outlets with a simple title. He’s a music educator, flautist, singer, composer, and arranger — among many other things. It was a discussion of one of those other things that particularly caught my interest.
Andrew described to me a Finale project he’d done using Finale’s scanning capabilities to recreate a piano reduction and instrumental parts for a Mozart opera that had been out of print for many years. I was so intrigued I asked him to share it with you here:
“In early 2003 I got a call from Louisa Panou-Takahashi, then director of the University of Virginia Opera Workshop.
The Opera Workshop was planning to produce Mozart’s first opera, “Apollo et Hyacinthus,” but they couldn’t access the music. Bärenreiter was no longer printing the music and all Dr. Panou-Takahashi had access to was a copy of the full score in the University’s Rare Works collection. Since it was the school’s only copy, they wouldn’t even let her check it out.
They did allow her to make photocopies, however. She spent the better part of a day doing so. The score is 100 pages, double-sided and oversized, so she had to copy it onto 11 x 17-inch paper. Although this was fine for the orchestra conductor, the instrumentalists needed their parts extracted and the singers needed vocal scores.
Louisa had worked with me as a Ph.D. student in composition and knew that I had some fairly sophisticated gear for scanning scores. Could I help?
I was glad to try!
The first thing I discovered was that although the photocopies were readable by the human eye, they were not at all good enough for SmartScore to scan them. Mainly, what appeared to be solid note heads were actually poorly dithered approximations, leading SmartScore to error out from too many rhythmic discontinuities or being unable to read the notes at all. Also, because the pages were so large, I had to scan half a page at a time.
Thankfully, I had been a CGI systems guru in my “previous life,” including teaching a grad course in image processing. So I took the scanned pages into PaintShop Pro where I found the right combination of adjustments to fix the resolution and contrast problems in the scanned photocopies. I created a macro in PaintShop to apply those fixes to all the scanned pages in a batch process.
Music Character Recognition software being what it was in 2003/04, I still had to manually correct about 20% of the manuscript in Finale. However, once that was done, I was able to extract the instrument parts.
For the last step I put on my composer/arranger’s hat to create the piano-vocal score. Although tools like “implode music” were very helpful, I had to decide which parts to implode to make a playable and stylistically appropriate keyboard reduction.
The whole project took a few months; the opera was performed in the fall of 2004. Sadly it was the last project I did with Dr. Panou-Takahashi, as she passed away in 2006.
Looking back today I realize that this had been a really gratifying experience. My hat’s off to everyone at MakeMusic and Musitek for making it possible.”
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