Help:The perfect edition

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Thank you for wanting to contribute to CPDL by submitting an edition of a public domain work or one of your own compositions. Below are guidelines for creating an edition of a choral or vocal work for submission to CPDL, followed by some general tips about layout and design considerations, in the hopes that they help improve the readability of scores on CPDL.

What to include in your editions

  • The full title (including opus or other catalogue number if applicable), subtitle and composer's dedication at the top of the first page of music in the order: dedication, title, subtitle (from top to bottom)
  • The full name of the composer, with his/her years of birth and death in parentheses, aligned right, below the subtitle.
  • The name of the editor of the work preceded by the phrase "Edited by", below the name of the composer, aligned right.
  • The full name of the lyricist or source of lyrics, with his/her years of birth and death in parentheses, aligned left, below the subtitle.
  • The name of the translator or editor of the text preceded by the phrase "Edited by" or "Translated by", below the name of the lyricist, aligned left.
  • Source
  • Edition notes
  • Text and translation(s)
  • Performance notes
  • Copyright notice
  • Title page if work is long

General tips about layout and design considerations

Please keep in mind that scores might be used under a variety of circumstances, including poor lighting, or possibly sight-singing a piece on no or little rehearsal. For example, this is not uncommon in weekly Sunday church situations where a choir might rehearse new music once on the Thursday before Sunday, or even just read through it once on the Sunday morning before performing it. Similarly, a substitute may be called in to cover a sick singer's voice part and may have to perform on little or no rehearsal. Anything that helps tell the singer's eyes where to go after they've just turned a page, or helps make the notes and words clearer, is a huge help.

  • Font size or notes that are too small may be difficult to use. This can often be done even without taking up any greater width.
  • Many singers punch holes in their music to use 3-ring or similar binders, so leaving adequate room in the margins prevents holes from interfering with viewing notes.
  • Leaving more space between systems than there is between staves provides an important visual cue to help singers find their own line on the page.
  • Using brackets or braces to visually associate similar voiceparts helps singers find their own part (e.g. in SSATTB music, using braces to visually associate the two soprano and two tenor parts).
  • Labeling staves on the left side of the page with the associated voice part also helps singers find their own line on the page. This is especially useful when there is a change in the voice parts (e.g. a new page starts a new section with 3 voices, when previously the work had 8 voices).
  • Avoid tragic page turns. Most editing software will let you select where to put the page break, so singers do not have an awkward transition once they've turned the page.
  • For speedy group referencing in rehearsal situations, include page numbers on each page in predictable locations, and also include periodic measure numbers (once at the start of each system usually works well).
  • Use horizontal spacing that is proportional to note values, and line up parts vertically. E.g. avoid having the second half note of the soprano line up over the second quarter note of the alto.
  • Use beaming that makes it easy to count the measure (e.g. subdividing the beaming for sixteenth-note clusters may make it easier to count than beaming five or six of them together).
  • Indicate visually which accidentals are editorial, cautionary or courtesy.
  • Attribution:
    • Make clear which sources have been used for an edition.
    • Make clear what you have changed with respect to your sources. If you have changed key, clefs, rhythm (some editors, e.g., half all note values), add an editorial note explaining what the original key, clefs or rhythm was.
    • Print the licensing terms (e.g. CPDL license or Creative Commons) on the first page of your edition, so that choirs can easily find out whether they may use the score for a public performance.
    • Include information to help someone trying to find the softcopy, such as that it can be found on CPDL and/or the editor's name.

(Note: the style of barlines to use is a controversial topic due to variation in user preferences, approaches for different eras or styles of music, etc. So we are avoiding that topic for this page.)

Additional resources

This page is part of the CPDL Help system.
View main help index