Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stravinsky redone

I've remade the Stravinsky pages so that they are a close match to the 1967 Boosey & Hawkes re-engraving of the 1947 revision. My original pages were based on the Dover reprint of a 1965 Moscow edition that had many errors. Take a look and let me know what you think!

It was an interesting exercise to copy the old engraving. The biggest lesson I came away with was that the old guys really, truly, thoroughly knew their stuff. Every single one of the pages in that edition is a beautifully-set prime example of the engraver's art. Here is a scan of the two pages that I copied.

One of the trickier parts was emulating the type style. They used a version of Century that I could not duplicate very well. The closest I could come was Century Old Style. The problem arose when trying to set type like instrument names or performance directions. They had access to a type weight roughly equivalent to caption -- about halfway between regular and bold. This is a type weight intended to be set at about 6pt and be readable. I chose to use a bold weight for the instrument names and the regular weight for performance direcitons. Even though the thin parts of the font are a bit light at this size, it still created a reasonable look.

Another tricky thing to duplicate was the braces. I posted earlier about trying to recreate these braces in Finale, failing, and having to use Illustrator only to find that Finale's graphics importing doesn't work so well. Even though it turned out that I could duplicate one size of the braces in Finale, stretching that shape to encompass different vertical staff widths distorted it considerably. One of the little signposts of the older engraved style is braces that don't quite match the top and bottom of the enclosed staves They would have several sizes of braces available and match as closely as possible. To preserve that look, I surveyed the pages and found that there were three distinct braces. The larger two were simply scaled versions of each other, but the smaller one was a unique shape. After creating the three types of braces in Illustrator, I brought my pages into InDesign so that I could position them correctly.

Since exporting a PDF from InDesign rasterized the pages and decreased the quality somewhat, I resorted to a fairly circuitous workaround. After removing the pages from the InDesign file, I exported a PDF with just the properly-positioned braces. I then overlaid that file on top of the original PDF exported from Finale. This method preserved the desired vector graphics while achieving authentically-sized and -positioned braces. It's a very small touch, but I think it adds a lot to the feel of the pages.

Post below if you have any comments or questions and I'll do my best to address them.


Aindrias Hirt said...

Hmm. I've noticed that the stem lines are a bit too thin in Sibelius-not really a problem, but it's as though they are opaque and not just thin. I need to do the Sibelius sol-fa text plug-in and noticed that the bar lines (that delineate octave) are too thin/opaque to read. How can I force the solfa notation (the little lines after "d:, r; etc.) to be larger? Increasing the font doesn't work.

Matthew Maslanka said...

You can run find/replace on the "|" character and change the point size to 6 or 7. That may solve your issue. It will strip the bold formatting, though. Going through the manuscript code for the plugin and changing the point size there will be a more durable solution. Good luck!