Condensed Scores, Thickened Lines and Part Extraction
When I first started studying orchestration, I ran across a book on film scoring by Frank Skinner titled Underscore. As was common procedure, Frank scored films using three or four staffs, and handed the score over to his arranger, who did the grunt work of extracting the parts and filling in the missing bits and pieces. Instead of staffs being assigned by instrument, they were assigned by function. The breakdown was:
* Rhythmic support (chords)
For example, when the melody was passed from the flute to the clarinet, the score simply indicated the change by writing clarinet in the staff.
This is no doubt obvious to all of you folk, but it was a complete revelation to me. Instead of being a confusing mess of dots, it was clear what each different instrument was doing. Since that point, I've been looking for music notation software that would support this sort of compositional approach.
Here's a portion of a condensed score from Henry Mancini's Sounds and Scores:
Here's a portion of the piano arrangement of the same song:
As is typical with much "pop" piano music arrangements, the piano right hand takes the melody, and harmonizes it with block chords. Having the software smart enough to do this seems to me to be a useful feature. So the "auto block voicing" would make sense, even without the first two features. (Band in a Box has such a feature).
So the set of features that I'm looking for are:
1. Dynamic reassignment of instruments to staffs (i.e.: flute+oboe, or oboe+flute/clarinet)
2. Dynamic reassignment of harmony voicings to a staff (i.e.: in thirds, octaves, close block)
2. Automatic extraction of parts;
It seems to me that having software that could support and automate the process of converting sketch into a full orchestration would be very useful to a subset of users. I don't recall seeing other music software that takes this approach.
Being able to reassign the instruments, and even the voicings on a sort of meta level would make orchestration much simpler than it currently is. For example, changing a line from 2 clarinets in octaves to 2 flutes in 6ths would be a matter of changing the instrumentation from:
and the harmony from:
6ths and 3rds
As a lazy orchestrator, the idea of having software do much of the grunt work appeals to me.
On the other hand, I'm not sure how good a fit this would be, since MuseScore is very much WYSIWYG, and this sort of approach is aimed more at composition than transcriptions.