I started transcribing tunes back in the early ’80s—jazz heads, MoTown tunes, reggae rhythm charts, tons of pop and rock, a cappella arrangements… It’s what I did when I wanted to put together a new band. My m.o. was 1) get the gig, 2) pick the song list and assemble the book, 3) rehearse a band and do the gig. That last part was often a single long day! Afternoon rehearsal, then do the gig at night. I do not suggest working this way, but it taught me a lot.
By 2002 I had had enough with hand-written scores and made the move to software notation, beginning with Finale Notepad. It was no time at all before the limitations of that freeware became unbearable, and I was eager to jump into the Pro-version. I consulted with a musician colleague – a trumpet player I had done a lot of gigs with in Denver and southern Colorado, and who just happened to be a professional music copyist working with a large publishing house. He gently suggested I take a look at Sibelius before making the investment. I checked their website, read the user feedback, and was sold. That was a great recommendation.
I have been using Sibelius ever since. I love the esthetic of the typography, the scale of the lines and graphics, and the sophistication of the integration of all the musical elements involved in music engraving that Sibelius offers. I have done literally thousands of scores, charts, lead sheets, educational handouts, and arrangements, and I published my own jazz piano method book using extensive music graphics created with Sibelius. The feedback I get from other musicians is that my charts are refreshingly clean, accurate, and easy to read. Mission accomplished!
A huge part of why my charts are successful with professionals is that I have been reading and playing charts for over forty years, and I have come to appreciate the value of a reliable score. From my own experience, I want to support other musicians by providing great musical manuscripts so they have the best shot at giving their best performance possible. Regardless of the style of music, there are a few crucial factors for all printed music, summed up in a single word: CLARITY.
I can’t count the number of lead sheets, keyboard parts, rhythm charts, or vocal scores I’ve encountered that contained confusing notations, lacked important directions, or were just plain wrong! There is no frustration like that felt when you are cold reading a mystery chart on the gig, and the director shoots you that look after you’ve played exactly what was on the page, only to be told “that’s the wrong note/chord/repeat.” Or, similarly, when you get to the end of the form and there is no indication where to go from there. Arghhh!
Eventually, I decided I would like to help raise the bar by putting out only the most legible, accurate, and easy-to-read charts possible. I’m starting to get busy enough now to justify this website, and I appreciate your taking the time to visit.
SF Music Services is a vehicle for me to give back to musicians and to the music profession by offering great and affordable music copying and transcription services. I look forward to helping you with your music needs, and I invite you to leave a comment on the CONTACT page.
Steve S. (owner, SF Music Services)