Marc Sabatella

Testing, 1...2...3... 4!

published20 days ago
2 min read

Hello! Daylight savings time is now over in the United States. For those of us here in the US, this means it's dark when most of us head home from work. For those of you outside the US, that means my live streams - always 12:30 PM Eastern time - are now 17:30 GMT instead of 16:30. Of course, your own part of the world may also be changing, or may have already changed, so you will still need to do the math on that to see what this really means for you.

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we look at how you can help test the MuseScore 4 beta and how to submit good bug reports for both MuseScore 3 & 4.

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Tip of the Week

Since we're dealing with a time change this week, I thought I'd show you how to change time signatures in your score.

To add a new time signature - or to change an existing one - simply select the measure where you'd like the change to begin, then click the desired time signature in the palette.

This will then be in effect for the remainder of the score, or until the next time signature change. You can also click the "More" button and then "Create Time Signature" to open a dialog box that allows you to create custom time signatures.

Music Master Class

This week in the Music Master Class with Marc Sabatella, we will look at some recently-submitted music, including a song by Colleen VanderHoek and an improvisation-turned-to-composition by Myriam Hunink .

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

In Theory

Of all the things we typically learn about in music theory, one area that gets less attention than it deserves is doubling - the process of deciding how many instruments or voices should be playing or singing each note of a chord. This can be an issue when writing triads in SATB format or solo piano music and just one note needs to be doubled, or when orchestrating for a large ensemble and all notes are played by multiple instruments. There is also the converse problem of doubling unnecessarily and omitting a chord tone as a result.

There's an art to making choices that sound balanced and don't lead to other voicel eading problems like parallel octaves or poorly resolved dissonances.

Consider the following excerpt from a piano piece I'm writing (treble and bass clef):

In the first bar, notice how the LH line rises to a C - the third of the Ab7 chord - just as the RH abandons its own C. The timing of this avoids doubling that note unnecessarily. Then in the next measure with the G7 chord, the LH avoids the third (B), because the RH has it prominently. If it weren't for the doubling concern, a B on the "and" of 2 would have made for better voice leading from the C on the same beat of the previous measure. But in this instance, I think the doubling was more important.

For more on these sorts of issues, check out my theory courses such as Harmony and Chord Progressions and Practical Counterpoint, as well as my Musicianship Skills Workshop.