Odyssey – The Coda

Although I haven’t actually signed a contract yet, I expect that Odyssey will be published later this year. Woo-hoo! I thought it might be useful to let you know the process post sending it off to the publisher. So,

  1. I send the piece to the publisher for their consideration. I emailed a pdf version of the score, a mp3 generated by Finale and a brief description of the piece. Because I have a relationship with this publisher, I didn’t include any material introducing me.
  2. The publisher wrote back with a couple of minor suggestions (“have you thought about maybe doubling the Glock part on chimes”) and was enthusiastic about the piece.
  3. I looked at the suggestions and by and large incorporated them. I then sent back a revised score and a much higher quality mp3 recording generated using East-West Symphonic Orchestra samples (I’ll list details of how I did this at the end)
  4. The publisher took the score and recording to an editorial board meeting where they review potential repertoire for their new catalogue. The board liked the piece, but also came back with some further minor suggestions
  5. I looked carefully at their suggestions, incorporated some but not others. I then sent back a revised score and an email detailed what I had changed. Also, quite importantly, I detailed which suggestions I didn’t incorporate and why.
  6. The publisher replied with one last tweak, and we were done.

From here, I still need to sign a contract. The publisher will organise all the recording, publishing, marketing side of things. The first time I would see a royalty cheque would be late January 2015. So the process from writing a piece to seeing some money is roughly about 18 months.

If you want to know more detail about how I used the EW samples, keep reading, otherwise see you next time!

Using the East West Sample Libraries

First, it’s worth saying that if you are sending a piece to a publisher for consideration, try to send the best recording you can. This may just mean making sure you get the best out of your notation program (can you add some reverb?, can you tweak note lengths, dynamics etc to make it play back better?). In my case, it means using some of the sample libraries I own. Here’s what I do:

  • Create a midi file from Finale of my piece. Technically, I could use my samples within Finale (I think), but it’s really, really awkward.
  • Import the midi file into my DAW (digital audio workstation – i.e. Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer, Protools, Reaper etc). I use Cubase at the moment. DAW’s are generally a much better tool for manipulating midi data and mixing tracks than trying to use your notation program. I generally try to use the right “tool” for the job. Notate in a notation program, produce audio in a DAW.
  • Do a bunch of preliminary editing to tidy up the tracks – glue fragments together, delete midi data my sample don’t recognise, copy and paste midi data (where required) to the correct midi controller for my samples, break up the tracks into various sample patch types. This means putting all the staccato notes on one track, all the legato notes on another track etc.
  • Load up the samples from the East West libraries and press play! In my case I’m working on an old laptop that chokes if I try to run an entire band of samples. So I do sections at a time (e.g. all the clarinet parts), check that they work, render to audio so I can unload those samples and load a new set.
  • Mix the tracks
  • Add some reverb (if necessary)
  • Create an mp3 (High Quality mp3 though)

Hopefully that makes sense – let me know if you have questions.

You can read about the rest of the process of writing this piece here, here and here.

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2 responses to “Odyssey – The Coda”

  1. zkidcomposer says :

    I have two questions of interest, if you can answer them please:
    1. Which publisher do you go to when you present your music? After doing some minor research online, I didn’t exactly find many publishers who even mentioned submitting independent work, and I would assume not having a name for one’s self would diminish the chances of being heard by any “big names” in concert music publishing.
    2. For a small time composer like myself, is there any merit in partaking in royalties organizations, such as ASCAP?

    • timfishermusic says :


      I’m currently published by Brolga Music and Grand Mesa Music for concert band works, and Jalen Publsihing for Big Band. You’re right, the really big players generally don’t take submissions, and it’s harder if you don’t have a name – but not impossible. So, start with the mid-sized publishers. A useful place to start is to go to jwppepper.com and look at the editors choice list for the genre and grade level you’re writing for and collect the publisher details. Research the publishers and enquire about submissions. I would also have a few pieces to submit, rather than just one. Be prepared to get rejection letters…they’re not necessarily about your writing. It may be that your piece doesn’t fit with their catalogue.
      2. Yep, I ‘d join a rights org. like ASCAP. I’m a memeber of APRA/AMCOS which does the same thing in Australia. You won’t be living off royalties anytime soon, but they’re usually free to join and they collect money on your behalf. I can’t see the downside.


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