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  • Writer's pictureDavid Winkler

The Work of An Editor

When I moved to Nashville in 1997, I didn’t know exactly what kind of work I would be doing.  All I knew was that I was responding to the call of God to move there. I had written some arrangements for several publishers and had a bit of success with orchestrating, so I figured I would continue to develop that line of work. While I had some very nice opportunities in these areas in my early Nashville years, eventually I fell into working more as an editor than as an arranger/orchestrator. With the advent of online home officing, I’ve been able to continue that work even after moving away from Nashville, first to North Carolina, and then back to our home state of Texas.

What is an editor, you may ask?  Think of a book author. He or she writes the basic text of the book, but others come alongside to help shape the work in many ways before it goes to press. It’s a team effort that involves executive editors, research assistants, typesetters, graphic artists and proofreaders, as well as friends of the author who may read and review the manuscript. The process is similar in producing music for choir and orchestra.

In my editorial work, I’ve focused mainly on music for orchestra, though I've also done entire choral books, with piano transcriptions included. With orchestra music, usually someone else has written the score, others have typeset it, produced a demo recording, and prepared the choral part.  My part involves combing through the many details required to get the orchestration ready for publication. This includes items such as making sure that the choral part and the orchestration match each other musically, correcting occasional wrong notes, checking that the dynamics and articulations are consistent between all the parts, editing the bowings for the strings, and doing lots of “clean up” of the written page. It also involves creating all the supplemental parts needed for a church orchestra, fleshing out the often very minimal rhythm parts, and adjusting the page layout.  In addition, I listen to the demo recording several times, often finding things that have been changed in the studio "on the spot" which then need to be noted in the published music.

After many years of directing church orchestras, I can usually look at a score and see what is going to work well in the arrangement, and what may be problematic. My name’s not on the music, but I’m always thinking of the directors and players who will be using it. The goal is to make everything “user friendly” so that the ministry of instrumental music and the worship of our Lord can be enhanced. 

Besides working with publishers, I’ve had the opportunity to assist a few individual writers from time to time in helping to improve their arrangements from an editorial standpoint. So, if I can ever assist you in this way, please let me know.


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