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Instrumentation: Score Presentation

Score Presentation and Submission Checklist

Follow these instructions and you won't go far wrong, at least technically.


If you are submitting a revised score, please follow the following guidelines:


  1. Use an appropriately sized paper with plenty of space;
  2. Use a template and photocopy it;
  3. Use templates for sketching;
  4. Use all instruments throughout the piece;
  5. Scores entirely in C except:
  6. Use a pencil and a ruler! Use a ruler for all barlines, and if possible, for note-beams too. It makes a huge difference.
  7. If you have already performed a piece in a workshop, you may well already have been assessed. As you know, you are able to revise work, but you must let me know if you have done so, and if you have, what you have revised. Please include this information on a separate sheet. If details are not given, I will assume that the work has not been revised. Please bear in mind that revision is not a guarantee of obtaining a higher mark than the initial assessment. You may well consider that it is more worthwhile ensuring that subsequent assessments are given more time.
  8. You must retain a copy of your work, ideally the original. You should submit a copy. In the event that you need to resubmit, I cannot guarantee to be in a position to return your work, and in any case, will require the original to compare with the resubmission.


Here are some points from experience, these are things that people have done persistently incorrectly:


  1. Please check that you have used appropriate spelling of notes (in other words, c sharp where appropriate instead of d flat). If you're unsure of a spelling, ask, or consult a music theory book;
  2. Use appropriate manuscript paper;
  3. Leave a space between instrumental groups and between systems. If the paper's not big enough to fit these, get some more appropriate paper;
  4. Use note stems correctly;
  5. Bars' rests should be semibreve whatever the length of the bar, the rest should lie in the centre of the bar (left to right) and 'hang' from the second line of the stave. They should be clearly visible, but not enormous;
  6. Bar lines should not cross through instrumental sections. Barlines should cross between instruments within a section;


  8. Be especially careful when notating rhythm. Remember the difference between triplets and two semi-quavers and a quaver! Ensure that your alignment is correct!;
  9. Avoid anomalies, for instance if your notation suggests one thing and a subsequent passage does not need this, include a nullifier even if it's not absolutely necessary


  11. Use dynamics constantly and consistently throughout every part;
  12. Use articulation constantly and consistently throughout every part;
  13. Align dynamics to parts. An instrument cannot 'crescendo' if it isn't playing! Nor, for that matter, can it play piano or forte!
  14. Use bar numbers and use them correctly;
  15. Notate rhythms strictly within the time signature you have used - for instance, 6/8 is different from 3/4 and should be notated differently;

    Instrumental and Vocal Writing

  17. Use double stoppings for stringed instruments, but use them correctly;
  18. Watch out for instrumental ranges, especially for viola;
  19. Be careful of boring use of instruments and especially automatic and easy responses - think of the instrumentalists playing the music;
  20. Be careful when using the double bass. It is considerably less manoeuvrable than other instruments;
  21. If you intend to use voices, you are strongly recommended not to use 'oohs' and 'aahs' (etc.) instead of 'real' words (unless, of course, you are required by me to do so!). Consider using poetry or a religious text, maybe in a language other than English.


  23. Be careful of inappropriate use of techniques;
  24. Be careful, when transposing, of altering chord inversions. In general and when in doubt, leave the bass as the bass;
  25. Avoid repeat marks, da capo, dal segno signs, etc. If you want to 'repeat' a section, consider ways in which it might be re-written. Change the instrumentation, the harmony, the inversion the atmosphere. Credit will not be given for repeated material;

See also Score Layout and Workshop Information