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Conductors, publishers: midi-renditions– what is your reaction?

Good Day,
There is currently interesting dialogue <>; concerning the value of midi renditions of choral works when composers submit them along with scores to conductors with hopes of having their music performed. This is by no means the first time this topic has been bandied dack and forth in the Composer Community. What are your thoughts on this?
Is it better to have a midi-rendition than no rendition at all? When it comes to the crunch, would you prefer a midi-rendition to a recorded not-so-good live performance?
Your thoughts will be valuable and very helpful for composers.
Thank you!
Donald Patriquin
Donald Patriquin
Replies (11): Threaded | Chronological
on January 24, 2016 5:18am
Writing from a publisher's point of view, I don't expect a MIDI version of a piece to sell it, whereas a good live performance may attract a potential purchaser's attention. That said, we do provide a MIDI rendering for every piece in our catalogue (as well as performance recordings when we have them, so not for every piece). There are two reasons:
1. Anybody browsing our catalogue can see, or download and potentially print, a full perusal copy for any piece that they're interested in. Some people can make a decision simply by reading the score. Others like to play it over on a piano. Hearing the MIDI version while reading the score can be a useful convenient substitute for "playing it over".
2. Any director or singer with a little technical competence can easily derive learning/rehearsal aids from the MIDI version - e.g., extracting individual voice parts.
In short, the MIDI can't sell the music, but it's a useful service to our customers.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on January 24, 2016 4:35pm
Points well taken, John. Thanks.
Re "MIDI": The corollary is true, I'd say, that LIVE performances (recorded or not) can sell music. Something to aim for!
on February 22, 2016 2:02pm
Since this thread was put up exactly a month ago there have been a lot of hits, but only a single (and instructive) comment, though none unfortunately from conductors. This tells me one thing at least, and in a way I hope I am right! This is, that conductors are not too concerned about what format performances are heard in. I think they generally recognize the reality of the situation. Many experienced conductors quite possibly feel they can tell from the score alone whether a piece is suitable or not for their ensemble.
Anyway conductors, if you feel differently and strongly enough about it, please do let the composer community know your feelings! You may like to make your response respose to a current forum at Lots of composers are reading it, so I KNOW it will help the 'cause'!
on February 23, 2016 6:09pm
A score will sell it. For something rhythmically complex, a recording is helpful. However, for publishers out there...
I get extremely frustrated when you show only an excerpt of your score and have a partial recording. Perhaps, for people working with older groups, they can say with certainty that there group can perform pretty much any material that's not in the excerpt. However, I work with young kids that are particularly fussy about what harmonies they can sing. It is so frustrating to look at part of a score and think, "they can do this," only to discover that the excerpt didn't show some musically significant section that is too hard for my choirs. Usually, it's some passage with really pretty parallel thirds. My third graders don't really do parallel thirds successfully.
I know that there are some people out there who are photocopiers who do not buy music. However, I think that a creative publisher can find ways to make this less attractive without depriving me of a way to insure success for my singers.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 23, 2016 8:02pm
Good points, Seth. I've had an inner debate for years as to how much of a score to send; I used to send partial scores, which some conductors felt was a little insulting as it implied a lack of trust. (We have a real history of music piracy here in Quebec, but it's starting to wane). I appreciate that partial scores are not conducive to eventual purchase so rarely send them out these days, but often send (lightly) 'watermarked' scores. There should be no problem with complete recordings. Thanks for mentioning this. Given advances in technology there are generally ways around previously annoying restrictions, watermarks being one of them. Let's hope traditional and desktop publishers keep up with technolical progress!
on February 24, 2016 2:42am
I put full scores on my website (with a minimal watermark that won't interfere with the music), and people can print off a perusal PDF if they wish - I have no record of anybody performing my scores without permission yet, and quite a few people who I'm sure have bought a piece because they can see every note in it.
on February 24, 2016 9:27am
It's even worse when, of the 2-3 pages available for preview, half of it is intro, followed by a unison entrance. That is no help at all.
I need to see the range of the parts, the kinds of harmony used in the piece, the contrasting section, etc. I remember looking at a preview, which seemed ok, and later discovering there was an entire section of speech choir.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 24, 2016 10:20am
I am a conductor of an auditioned community chorus.  While I prefer a live recording, I also appreciate a midi.  I Am not a strong pianist, so recordings are helpful.  I will also chime in on the perusal score comments: I implore composers and publishers to make the complete score available -- unethical people will find away to make illegal copies.  A conductor in the process of perusal to programming need the full piece to decide.  Besides, conductors are the composers' best advocate, and it seems shortsighted to offer a score with gaps rather than a complimentary perusal copy of the entire work. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 24, 2016 7:38pm
You're right, Mary. Thanks for making a strong case for complete scores. I'll loosen up on this!
on February 24, 2016 2:26pm
I'll send a MIDI snapshot along with any work of mine that has never been performed, or on request if a work of mine has been performed but I have no recording or no good recording.
Robert A. M. Ross
on February 25, 2016 3:05am
Some websites allow you to see the whole of a score when considering whether to purchase a piece. One such site is, where every score can be seen in its entirety. Also most of them are accompanied by live recordings.  Music can be printed to order or, in the case of choral music, a license can be obtained to download and print as many copies as you need. It's an attractively laid out site, and music can be searched by composer, genre, voicing, etc. All the composers represented are self publishing - well worth a look!
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