April 26, 2009

music librarian hell

In yesterday's rehearsal we discovered that the banda parts from the opera's opening scene were, in many places, missing. It was something the conductor and I had been concerned was a possibility. These are parts originally written for an offstage band, frequently played from the pit instead (because rarely is a second, backstage orchestra very high on the financial priority list). Often they come as a separate set of parts, which the librarian has to embed into the music, but sometimes the publisher takes it upon itself to include these parts in the pit parts, "in mancanza della banda" (in absence of offstage band). This was the case with our parts for Rigoletto, which are freshly purchased and on loan from New York City Opera. In this case it's difficult to know what you're getting, because the score continues to show the banda in a reduction, which doesn't tell you what instrument is playing at any given time. We discovered yesterday that there's an entire 32 bar section which lacks anything but a bass line and one lone clarinet player. There's supposed to be a full band playing.

For the record, this is one of my worst nightmares.

In addition, there were sections where chords were missing their inner notes, and sections where inexplicably no tuba part was written. Much of the missing music could be culled from previous sections of the music, but 17 bars of it occurred nowhere else in the score and had to be arranged by hand. Our rehearsal yesterday ended at 1; we began again tonight at 7. With the exception of roughly 60 minutes of staging rehearsal and 6 hours of sleep, I spent every moment in between rehearsals rewriting and arranging new parts in time for tonight's rehearsal.

Things ingested in this process:
3 creme eggs (one large, two small)
1 foot of Bubble Tape (I considered trying to put all 6 feet in my mouth at once, just for a diversion)
McDonald's cheeseburger and fries
two bowls of oatmeal
9 cups of coffee

Tonight (just moments ago) we reached the banda and before I had a chance to make a joke about saying benedictions, our assistant conductor caught my eye from the front of the room and made the sign of the cross. "Here we go!" the conductor called, smiling as I bit my nail.

We made it through without a hitch. A librarian miracle!

I have to say a word about Sibelius here. Thankfully we installed it last week, though I hadn't had a chance to try it out at all. This was the software's trial by fire. It's a testament to Sibelius's ease of use that I created banda parts from scratch in 24 hours without having ever worked on the system before. I had a couple of mishaps -- problems I would most likely never have encountered if I had had the luxury of time and a clear head in which to teach myself, like accidentally erasing half my woodwind parts because I was working in part mode instead of score mode and I erased a bunch of measures, forgetting that they were all interlinked. But once I got the basic keyboard shortcuts and navigation, I was pretty set. Obviously I just scratched the surface of what the software can do, but I have to say it really saved my butt.

And now I'll spend the rest of rehearsal quietly trying not to fall asleep. I worked 14 hours MORE than I expected to work since yesterday at 8 AM, and I'm pooped.

p.s. I've been meaning to write at length about what exactly it is a music librarian does. #1: bite nails in rehearsal.

1 comment:

  1. It may be hell, but at least it's a hell of your choosing!