There are always multiple ways to notate something. One of the most important (and overlooked) parts of the composing/arranging process is choosing how to notate it. Forget theory or pretension – the only question you should ask is, “is this the easiest way to read this?”
A few quick examples:
1. In Richard Gregory’s “Christmas Medley” he plays with metric modulation as a comedic element. However, the meters he choose aren’t always consistent with the underlying beat patterns. I do not conduct the measures as in the score, because they don’t make rhythmic sense with what he wrote. This was a big challenge when we collaborated with the Battle Creek Symphony on this piece.
2. In one of the piano/vocal charts I used for the recent RHS Cabaret, there was this pattern in the drums:
However, the score author chose to halve the rhythmic value of everything (thus fewer measures). They also did not notate the melody.
The results was the drummer had to read this:
The drummer was a pro and it went fine, but could have been a train wreck.
3. Another easy fix: a different Cabaret score had a repeated section. To save 1 measure of printing, the open repeat started one measure before the chorus. When looking quickly, it’s easy to assume that the double bars and the repeats line up, which again could have been a train wreck. One extra measure of notation would have clarified everything.
The goal is for a smart musician to read literally on the page what they would expect intuitively.