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Musical Examples

Musical examples should be clear, easy to read, and accurate; in other words, think them through carefully before you set them up. Sloppy notation and slip-shod diagrams or tables ruin even the finest research or thesis papers.

Avoid simply xeroxing, cutting and pasting your examples into the text. Effective examples, whether copied by hand, xeroxed from printed scores, or processed electronically, should be reduced (and sometimes edited from their original sources) to fit the proportions of the text and page, then pasted and recopied (or electronically imported) into the text to give a polished, "printed" appearance.

You will find that examples copied in ball point pen reproduce better than those copied in pencil or calligraphic ink.

Notation software solves many of the old problems in this regard, and it is worth the effort to learn to use programs such as Finale and Sibelius. Whichever system you use, be consistent and strive for clarity above all. Remember to cite the sources for your examples in all cases.

No absolute rules for setting up musical examples have been established. Instructive suggestions are found in Helm and Luper, and in Holoman. Some general rules to follow:

  1. Place an example in the part of the text that refers to it, or as near to it as you can, but never before you mention it in the text. You may also place all examples in an addendum to your paper. Keep examples within the margins of the text.
  2. Examples must be labeled (i.e., Example, or Ex. 1, etc.). Captions may be centered above or below, or placed flush with the left margin. Measure numbers for excerpts should be shown in some manner, i.e., at the beginning of each line, every five bars, or as a unit (mm.1-5). Using an image from a Pdf of a score is an easy way to select a section of the music, take a snapshot, and paste the music into a paper.
  3. Instrumentation should be abbreviated in the singular and capitalized.
  4. Fl. Hn. Timp. Vla.

  5. Give rehearsal numbers and letters in boxes.
  6. Give translations of texts in vocal works below the example, to the left.
  7. Be consistent with stem and slur direction. For other matters of notation, see Gardner Read, Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice.
  8. In vocal works, make sure the lyrics correspond to the notation and can be read easily. Make syllable breaks according to the practice of the language (see The Chicago Manual of Style or Webster?s Dictionary ).

Nicknames of scenes can be given in quotations.

When two or more texts are sung simultaneously, they appear as:

Nuper rosarum flores/Terribilis est locus iste by Guillaume Du Fay

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