These are a few of our Favourite Things

6 essential tools for any serious composer or musician

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Each week, Making Waves Co-Curators Lisa & Peggy meet and talk music on Skype for hours! One of our greatest pleasures is to start our chats comparing notes on the latest news, discoveries and must-have composition tools.  Here we’re delighted to share with you six of our favourite things! Unsure of what to buy your musician or composer partner, friend, child or parent this festive season? Then look no further as any one of these items would surprise, delight and inspire us to get to work!

We’re thrilled to be working with our wonderful and industrious friends at CutCommon and Rehearsal Magazine to offer the Making Waves community special pricing on their staple resources.  We’ve also scoured giants Amazon and eBay to deliver some top picks via affiliate links, saving you the hard work.  And last but not least, we’re debuting some Making Waves merchandise, the fabulous MW tote bag in several designs!

A disclosure, just so we’re clear: a small portion of every sale via links or coupon codes on this page will directly support the activities of Making Waves in shining the spotlight on Australian composers, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for supporting us in this way!

1. Making Waves Tote Bags

Matthew says

“In which bag shall I carry my election night wine and cheeses? This plush Making Waves tote of course! May the votes for parties with progressive (or indeed any) arts policies be as numerous as the thread count of this bag.” – Matthew Lorenzon

What does it do?
It’s a tote bag! It holds fun things like scores and wine (42cm x 42cm). Plus, it supports new music and it’s a bit of a fashion statement! (just saying)

Why we love it?
Well for one, it holds A3 scores and that’s no small feat! It’s also makes us feel rather indulgent with its reinforced shoulder straps, 320 GSM and 100% cotton canvas. Not to mention that we enjoyed developing all the beautiful designs (and are particularly proud of the one with all of the names of composers featured in 2015 & 2016!) and the fact that it’s printed by a small local business in Melbourne, Australia.

How can I get one?
Which design will you choose? Once you’ve decided, it’s simple, click on the Paypal button for that design below.

Price: $35 each, including postage within Australia. No GST charged.
Email us if you want to order one to be posted overseas.

Making Waves Logo
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featured-composers-dec-10th2015-16 Featured Composers
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A World Without Arts…
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Tote Bag: Theres Never Been a Better Time to #makenewmusic…Time to #makenewmusic
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Tote Bag: Music Speaks Where Words Fail Music Speaks …
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2. Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, by Elaine Gould

Lisa says

“I have two copies! Is that greedy? I don’t care. Elaine Gould is a genius and I can’t tell you how many times this guide has saved my sanity in the midst of a deadline.” – Lisa Cheney

What is it?
It’s THE musical notation Bible. This is the book (or e-book) we all turn to for guidance in creating perfectly formatted, industry standard scores! It’s not just for composers either, conductor Sir Simon Rattle described Behind Bars as

“…an extraordinary achievement…I would pray that it becomes a kind of Holy Writ for notation in the coming century…”

Why do we love it?
It’s a cornucopia of wisdom that no legitimate composer should be without. From choosing the right staff size for your instrumentation to confirming the correct way to beam irregular rhythms, guidance on harp pedals or recommendations on notating extended techniques, Behind Bars deals with it all. There’s rarely a commission that gets completed by either of us without referencing at least one of the 704 pages. Logically presented, this work includes 1,500 music examples ranging from Bach to Xenakis.  If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, you can thank us later.

How can I get it?
We recommend grabbing a hard copy of Behind Bars via Amazon here:  Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation (Faber Edition). We’re also excited to announce that Faber have recently released a highly anticipated e-book copy of Behind Bars on Kindle. Check it out here: Behind Bars The Definitive Guide to Music Notation Kindle Edition

Price: Approximately $65 AUD for Hardcover and $45 AUD for the Kindle edition. Prices up to date at the time of publishing.


 3. Cut Common Manuscript Books

Marlene's desk looks incredibly inspiring with this groovy Cut Common manuscript design!

The CutCommon manuscript book is in good company on Making Waves intern Marelene Radice’s very respectable desk!

What is it?
Cut Common offer environmentally friendly A5, 60pp manuscript booklets with funky designs. Use them for jotting down your next stroke of musical genius.

Why do we love it?
We love that this is manuscript for the environmentally conscious musician. The paper is Australian made, FSC® certified, Carbon Neutral, and supports Landcare. Pages are 100% recycled on the inside, covers 70% recycled, and their toner uses raw materials including plant-based, organic, and renewable Biomass. We also love the incredibly cute designs and the fact that they fit in our handbags [female composers rejoice!]. Finally, we’re proud to supporting the wonderful work of our friends at Cut Common and thank them for their generous discount to Making Waves readers.

How can I get it?
Browse and select your favourite design from the standard range in Cut Common’s online store here. Once at the checkout, enter the promo code MAKENEWMUSIC for a 15% discount!

 Price: Individual manuscript books are RRP $15 AUD or $12.75 with the 15% off promo code: MAKENEWMUSIC


4. Music Business Basics E-Book, by Rehearsal Magazine

Rehearsal Magazine: 'Music Business Basics'

“This is an invaluable business reference even for those of us who have been freelancing for a few years.  I wish it had been around in 2003!” – Peggy Polias

What is it?
An Australian Music Business Basics e-book written by REHEARSALmagazine  for young musicians and developing artists! The content was put together in collaboration with the accounting firm Colville Williams & Co Pty Ltd. and arts accountant Dianne Steller.

Why do we love it?
We think this guide is a wonderfully helpful and affordable must-read for classical composers and musicians just starting out in the industry. We especially love the spreadsheets and worksheets on subjects as diverse as doing tax, and sending out invoices, reading contracts, copyright, to negotiating payments and reading contracts. We’ve lamented more than once that something like this wasn’t available to us earlier in our careers!

How can I get it?
Follow this link to the REHEARSALmagazine store to purchase and download your copy of the e-book. Make sure you enter the promo code MAKENEWMUSIC to save $5 [aren’t they so nice?]!

 Price: RRP $30 AUD or $25 AUD with our $5 off promo code: MAKENEWMUSIC.


5. Palomino Blackwing Pencils, Trio

Version 2

“These legendary pencils dance across the page, if only I could just choose which one to use today!” – Peggy Polias

What is it?
The Palomino Blackwing is one of the most iconic and celebrated pencils for writers, composers and analogue-creative types. Given the seal of approval by some of the biggest names in writing and music, it’s the highest quality tool.

Why do we love it?
It’s just a pencil? Um, no! All those odes to writing with velvet, melted butter, gliding, that you might have read online – it is true! This pencil will share the journey of your next masterpiece, and give you a reason to join your fellow music nerds in posting with their hardcore composer tools for some ‘serious’ street cred on Instagram.

How can I get it? The three-pack will allow you to trial different versions: Palomino Blackwing Pencils, Trio. If you’re committed to the original, you can grab a dozen: Palomino Blackwing Pencils – 12 Count There’s even a dedicated pencil sharpener: Blackwing Long Point Sharpener

Price: $19 AUD for the trio, $53 AUD for the dozen, and $28 AUD for the sharpener.  Prices up-to-date at the time of publishing.


6. Noligraph 5-line Staff Liner Pen

What is it?image-from-http-item-rakuten-co-jpnakazen10004702
On the run when an idea strikes? Run out of manuscript? Never fear, the Noligraph is here! It’s a pen that draws a 5-line stave (aka manuscript).

Why do we love it?
‘Why wouldn’t we love it?’ is probably the better question. It’s cute, it’s quirky, it’s practical, fun and handy. What composer, musician or theory student hasn’t wanted to jot down a few notes on the train only to realise they didn’t bring any staff paper with them? Need to make an edit in a rehearsal? No problem. Want to write down your own cadenza ideas on a straight stave? Too easy. What about drawing arty and circular graphic scores [the kind Finale and Sibelius make you feel like it’s laughing at you for even considering]? With this fun-sized pen you can get creating.

How can I get it?
The Noligraph ships from Japan and can be bought via Ebay here: Noligraph 5-line Staff Liner Pen (Pickboy; Japan Import).

 Price: Approximately $26 AUD for the Noligraph. Prices up to date at the time of publishing.


We hope you found something in this list of Favourite Things that caught your attention and imagination. We’ll be back again to update this selection with more of our must-have tools, so we recommend bookmarking this page to return to later. Would you like to share your favourite things with us? Has one of the items changed the way you work? Comment below. We would love to know!

Lastly, we thank you for your ongoing support. Making Waves does not receive any funding and our team (Peggy, Lisa and Interns) volunteer our time to raise the profile of Australian composers online. Our goal is to ensure our running costs can be met and you can help us do that by purchasing one the items above or sharing with your friends. We thank you for your support!

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