If you are a frequent visitor to the Sloan Music Center, you may have noticed a new display in the building’s lobby. The music department has kindly allowed the music library to take over the display for a few weeks to exhibit a touring collection of award-winning scores. These scores have been deemed “outstanding examples of graphic design,” and are recipients of the Music Publishers Association’s Paul Revere Award, which “acknowledges publishers for their efforts in creating art for the music industry.”
“Why Paul Revere?” you ask? Well, Paul Revere did more in his life than just go on late-night horseback rides through Massachusetts. He dabbled in several business and political ventures, including engraving. You would probably recognize his engraving of the 1770 Boston Massacre, based on a drawing by Henry Pelham. The MPA’s Paul Revere Awards are not meant to recognize compositional or inherent musical value, but instead recognize quality publishing and graphic excellence.
Categories include Cover Design, Book Design, Publications for Electronic Distribution, and Notesetting (for choral, keyboard, guitar, piano-vocal, solo, chamber, and full scores). Notesetting is comparable to typesetting; it is the process of engraving music. This may sound easy, especially now that computers can typeset both text and musical notation for us, but engraving is a tedious process that requires a high level of skill and editorial judgment. Notesetting is of the utmost importance to musicians, especially in performance, wherein the clarity and accuracy of a score are essential to the production of intentional sound.
Here are two editions of the same Bach prelude. The score on the right is much clearer and significantly more playable than the one on the left.
I hope you’ll come see our display. We will have this collection of scores until the end of April, when it will be sent on to the next institution for display. Additional information and more award-winning scores are available in the music library. See you in Sloan!