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New Score, New Head-Baton, and Ready to Make Some Noise! / 3 May 2016

Photo of James Rose's baton. Photo supplied by the artist

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This is my last blog article before the conducting development week at The Royal Academy of Music and things are hotting up. The score is ready and we now have a brand new version of the head baton.

It has been interesting preparing the parts for the four instruments all be it challenging at times when my computer decided to freeze before saving the work I'd done! One of the many tasks I completed this weekend was to tidy up the layout for each of the parts, minimising the clutter of unnecessary dynamic markings. This was time consuming but also a great learning experience on logic, in terms of creating a nice, easy to read score.

The next stage is to mark-up the score in order to remind myself which instrumentalist I might need to encourage or hold back at different points in the music.  Having had a few lessons from Sian, I allocated different colours to each instrument (or voice) and highlighted the first note of each of the instrument's entry point.  

Now, I had to find a way of doing this digitally. As I'm unable to fluidly handle paper in a practical manner, I could have dictated my markings to my assistant who could mark them on the pages. The issue I have with dictation is that it can sometimes lead to my mind becoming disassociated with the creative process, especially if it requires me to subsume myself with it. A weird bit of psychology there!  

As a result, I used Adobe Acrobat's highlighter and textual commenting features to mark-up PDF versions of my score. In addition, I used Microsoft Word into which I copied and pasted the text from the text boxes I created in Acrobat.  

This enabled me to re-format the text before cutting and pasting it back into Acrobat.  Otherwise, all of the text mark ups I added in Acrobat would have remained the default format: Helvetica, sized 12, and Red in colour. A clunky but effective workaround!  Whether my mark ups make sense in the sessions is yet to be discovered, as I have done it purely based on common sense and how I think the players who I've yet to meet will naturally interpret their parts. It's likely that my initial mark-up will change to fit the reality once I start working with the players.

The other big news, as previously mentioned at the start of this post, is that I now have the latest version of my head-baton!  I am so grateful for the support from everybody including Drake Music. Drake has been key in developing the head baton.  

Particular thanks to Gawain and Luis both of whom have put so much work into the design and build of it. The fact that it started as a clunky head pointer, the design for which has now been developed into something so light and tiny is amazing. Through this process, I have got to know a community of music technology enthusiasts through DMLAB - a Drake Music group who meet up every month and discuss various inventions which they've been working on to make music creation more widely accessible. 

I've been going along to these sessions for the past year and a half and I keep being amazed with the ideas and gadgets people come up with. The new head baton is really light and is transferable between different glasses. This minimises the weirdness of having something attached to my head.

This is so important as I need to do as much as I can to 'fit into' a role which is surrounded by pre-defined ideas and traditions. By saying this, I don't deny the fact that what I'm doing is inherently questioning the pre-conception of what a conductor looks like, but I just need to look like and be human being. And Drake is helping me with this!

Right, that is it for now! I must go and make last minute preparations before actually starting the project. I'm so excited!

Thanks to DAO for hosting this blog for me – they’re amazing!  You can follow my twitter account @jamesrosetweets where I’ll be posting updates during the Conducting Development Week in week starting Monday 2nd May using #jroseconducting. Further details on the project can be found at http/:/

Keywords: access


James Rose

22 May 2016

Thank Sophie, it went amazingly. Photos coming soon! Hope you're well..........x

Sophie P.

10 May 2016

Glad it's going well! :-)