Why "Serpent" publications?

For an explanation of "serpent" in the sense it's used here, go to
Paul Schmidt's serpent
. For a (not very up-to-date) history of my own involvement
with serpents, go to my
serpent page.

When I wanted a name to do my publishing activity under, I
decided "Serpent Publications" would be the easiest name I could
think of to get a catchy logo for.

The name does not imply that the music is intended to be played
on serpents, although some of it does work. It is mostly music I
play in my group, or solo, and I'll often mention when I put a
piece up whether it's one that the serpent likes.

Is this music under copyright?

The music on this site is all as far as I know not under
copyright. If you believe that you are a copyright holder of any
of this music, and wish to object to its presence on this site,
please contact us.

Even though the music isn't under copyright, there can be a
copyright on an edition of the music. These editions are ©
copyright Serpent Publications, and are released under the href="http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl.html">Gnu Public
License (GPL).

In general, this means that you can use the music for anything
you like, but that if you give it to someone else you must include
a copy of the GPL, and must continue to give credit to Serpent
Publications, and to point to where the sources of the
transcriptions are available.

What software do you use?

The short answer is href="http://www.lilypond.org">Lilypond. This is a free software
project for producing printed music in the tradition of the great
nineteenth century engravers. A number of people in the lilypond
development community are interested
in transcribing Renaissance and even earlier music in lilypond, so
the support for early music features is better than in a lot of
other transcription software.

I originally figured out how to transcribe music like this in
ABC. When I started
using lilypond instead, for some time I still did the note entry
in ABC, and then imported it into lilypond.

ABC is more widely
used and better href="http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/findtune.html">indexed
on the World Wide Web, so when I have an ABC transcription for
something, I put that source up as well as the lilypond source,
even though you aren't going to get anything that looks a lot like
my PDF by using any ABC software.

For most of the books, and even the PDF files with all the
parts for a give piece, I use href="http://www.ctan.org">LaTeX as the publishing software.

Why are there no barlines?

I'm glad you asked that question. You can read an href="http://www.serpentpublications.org/wordpress/?page_id=203">article
about that topic. The short answer is that the people who
wrote and performed this music when it was contemporary music
didn't have them, and that's not how they thought, and so if you
try to impose a barline structure on the music, it makes it harder
to play.

Here's another article about the nuts and bolts of how to transcribe
barless parts in ABC.

Some of your pieces have "G.P." over a rest. What does this mean?

It's short for "Grand Pause", meaning that everyone is resting at the same time. It often means that the value of the rest isn't literal, but that you wait and listen to the echoes and all go on together when everyone is ready.

Some of my users don't like it when I put in rehearsal letters, because they feel that where to start a rehearsal from should be the performers' decision rather than the publishers'. But I really don't think anyone should object to a publisher telling the performers that it isn't just their part that's resting at that particular place.

I sometimes transcribe music for my group. Would you like to
put it on your site?

The short answer is, "Yes, please."

A couple of reasons why that might turn into a "No.":

  • I won't put it up if the music is still
    under copyright.
  • I also won't put up any proprietary format, so if you use a
    commercial publishing program you have to put the music into at
    least PDF form before you give it to me. This seems like a
    terrible problem for some people, but really, if you can print
    it, there is free software that will put it into PDF for
  • You also have to be willing to put some kind of free licence
    on your work. I use the href="http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html">GPL, but a lot
    of people would prefer a href="http://creativecommons.org/">Creative Commons licence
    for this kind of work.
  • I'm not saying this is an absolute requirement, but I
    really prefer to have source with the PDF's on my site. I make
    lots of decisions when I publish and all of them might be the
    wrong decision for some players. I would like these players to
    also be able to use my work, even if I've given them the wrong key
    and the wrong clef and the wrong number of barlines. With my
    work, they can change any of these things easily if they want to
    install lilypond. At the
    least, you should be willing to provide a MIDI file. If you're
    using software that doesn't enable you to do that, you should
    think about whether you really want a career in publishing, and if
    so, you should get software that's better adapted to publishing.