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© Copyright 2024 Jeremy Aknai

Music engraver, editor and proofreader

I have worked in music engraving, editing and proofreading since 2001. After several years employed at the publisher Stainer & Bell I became a full-time freelancer in 2012. Customers ranged from publishers (Banks Music Publications, Boosey & Hawkes, Gresham Books, Wise Music Classical, Peters Edition, Schott, Stainer & Bell) and institutions (Hallé Orchestra, Royal Opera House, The Open University) to individual composers or their trusts (Anthony Gilbert, Cyril Rootham, Martin Shaw). In 2021 I returned to employment at Stainer & Bell as a Music Editor where I continue to oversee the production of scores to the highest standards.

The many publications to which I have contributed span music from the medieval period to the present day, in a multitude of styles and forms:

My approach in producing music notation focuses on clarity and consistency; to always question whether the music’s essence is conveyed in the most efficient and helpful way. Due attention is given to creating a clear and balanced layout with good page turns, and to the smallest details of positioning and shaping slurs and ties, the subtle manipulation of note-spacing, or the kerning of accidentals in chords. Appreciative of practical aspects going hand in hand with great visual beauty and appeal to draw in the reader, I am never content to rely on the software’s default settings or submit to its shortcomings, but will always find a way to achieve the ideal. An innate understanding of the inner workings of many musical styles informs my keen eye with a knack for spotting errors and incongruities. I take pride in meeting deadlines and accommodating the stipulations of editors and composers, and in using Sibelius combined with Adobe Creative Suite there is almost no limit to the notational requirements I can fulfil. Ever mindful of developments in software, after many years of mastering Sibelius I am increasingly turning to Dorico as my program of choice.

Jeremy Aknai’s work for The Open University has been characterised by excellent attention to detail and layout, prompt turnaround, and patience to cope with the frequent updating of music examples. Neither Schenkerian graphs nor transcriptions by ethnomusicologists were a problem.

Trevor Bray, The Open University

I was impressed by the diligence and attention which you paid to creating the published edition of the full score [of And all the trumpets sounded], and delighted with the result.

Ronald Corp, composer

In work that calls for mental stamina, undivided attention and a creative eye for composers’ intentions, Jeremy is amongst the most meticulous of the generally underrated race of music proofreaders.

Howard Friend, former Managing Editor,Wise Music Classical

Writing as a former Music Editor for Schott, I must say that Jeremy’s proofing work on my most recent composition, beset as it has been by software problems, has been phenomenal in its efficiency, meticulous accuracy, sharp-sightedness and in its creative suggestions for clarity of presentation. I’m enormously impressed!

Anthony Gilbert, composer

The quality of your scores has been one of the undoubted strengths of the relationship with Stainer and Bell!

Morgan Hayes, composer

Your recent work for Musica Britannica has been exemplary. The setting of volumes 93 and 95 in particular must have been hugely challenging, and the result in both cases is not only fantastically accurate but visually stunning as well.

H. Diack Johnstone, General Editor Emeritus, Musica Britannica

Jeremy Aknai’s acute editorial eye for notational errors, omissions and inconsistencies has saved me from many an anomaly. Better yet, as a sometime composer, he well understands that achieving the clearest, most articulate notation is, itself, part of the creative process in conveying the composer’s fullest intentions to the performer.

Bayan Northcott, composer

Below are examples of my engraving and editing, with thanks to Stainer & Bell for their permission to reproduce them.


John Ireland: London Pieces

Piano solo

A fresh engraving made in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics and the fiftieth anniversary of Ireland’s death. I was able to condense the spacious layout of the original in order to reduce the number of page turns. The opening four pages of the first piece, Chelsea Reach, are provided.


Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass

SATB soloists, double chorus and orchestra

This large-scale work, submitted for the Cambridge degree of Doctor of Music, was only recently rescued from obscurity by Alan Tongue and given its world premiere in 2011. My task was to set the full score and vocal score (including transcribing the piano reduction) and extract the orchestral parts. Editorial emendations are indicated by means of crossed slurs/ties, small notes/accidentals, bracketed text etc. The three files below demonstrate the process by showing the same passage from the end of the Credo.


Songs in British Sources c.1150–1300

Musica Britannica volume 95

The illustrious Musica Britannica series is renowned throughout the world for its outstanding scholarship and high editorial standards. Volume 95 was published in 2013 and raised some notable engraving difficulties. As rhythm is not notated I had to reconfigure Sibelius’ note-spacing routine and devise an input method which would ensure logical and consistent note-spacing (there are just three note ‘durations’: normal notes, notes at the end of a phrase which are twice the length, and melismatic groups of notes which are half the length of normal notes – a very different system to conventionally notated music). Furthermore, instead of the usual practice of allowing the natural spacing of the music to determine the layout, the editor required the structure of the underlaid poetry to determine, and be elucidated by, the layout.


Ivor Gurney: Ludlow and Teme

Tenor, string quartet and piano

Philip Lancaster’s new edition was published in 2011. A particular challenge was incorporating the variant passages where Gurney changed his mind, both in terms of creating a workable layout and managing, in effect, different simultaneous time signatures and bar lengths – something not straightforward to achieve in Sibelius. This may be observed in the extract given, taken from the opening of the first song.


Alfredo C. Piatti: Method for Cello Book 1

The perennially popular Piatti Cello Method provides an example of my work in the field of educational publishing. This re-set edition with minor revisions was issued in 2011.


Morgan Hayes: Slippage

Piano and ensemble

My experience in complex contemporary classical music may be represented by the above work, one of many pieces by Morgan Hayes that I have edited and engraved. It was first published in 1999 as an autograph score but recently reissued in this new computer setting.