It seems as if the job of purging scores of errors, correcting text underlay (in the case of the songs), and preparing parts with all the necessary tempo indications, cues and so on JUST NEVER ENDS! Beethoven made a similar comment once that the published versions of his string quartets are full of schools of little errors like schools of fish! One wonders how many of them are still there today. Last week I noticed that one measure in my published Four Pieces for violin and guitar that is all in harmonics, was missing the indication that the notes are all harmonics!
In the piece for violin and piano, I was disconcerted to discover that one, I thought, clever passage a piacere turned out to be a real problem when I extracted the violin part. You see, how it works is you compose in score, that is to say, all the parts aligned vertically so you can see the relationships. This is what composers have done since, oh, the 17th century. But the next step is to pull out the individual parts because it is simply too cumbersome to play from score. There is a page turn every few seconds! In the case of my piece for violin and piano, it is six pages in score, but just two and a half pages for the violin part separately. But passages like my a piacere (which means, "as you please", i.e. to play it rhythmically freely) become impossible because the players have to see what one another is doing as they are tossing a motif back and forth. So what I have to do is insert "cues", miniature versions of the piano part, into the violin part so she can see what is going on in the other part. The pianist plays from the score, so she doesn't have a problem. Luckily, my music software has a feature that enables you to do this pretty easily. But obviously it is the kind of thing you would have to handle completely differently in an orchestral context!
My main failing as a composer, I find, is to leave out some things in the notation because I am too quick to assume that the performers will know what to do even if I don't make it explicit. This probably comes from my long career as a performer where a frequent problem was "over-determined" scores where the composer insists on notating every detail to the point where virtually every note has a dynamic, articulation, expression and so on. You can barely see the forest for the trees! I put up a post about this here.
You can expect a lot more posts on Messiaen, in fact one on his compositional technique is in the works right now. So let's have a little Messiaen to end today. Here is a piece he wrote in 1937 for six Ondes Martenot, an early kind of electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot. Messiaen also used it in his Turangalîla-Symphonie and other pieces: