Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

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MJCube
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by MJCube » 08 Feb 2016, 00:18

Ach – My apologies for denigrating your work, John! I assumed it was that critical edition. I should have seen that it’s made from a screen capture rather than a scan. (It seems to me that scanning a mere couple of bars of anything constitutes “fair use”.)

Okay, since it’s your work, some other questions come to mind: What do you think of the modern triplet bracket vs. the old-fashioned slur-like curve? Technically the same meaning, of course, but it seems the clarity of the bracket sacrifices a certain visual flow. And I notice in the first ed. 4 bars earlier is another triplet in 2/4, but lacking any “3”! I wonder if that was deliberate on Ravel’s part? Perhaps one just plays the LH scale as fast as possible, and it will still be slower than the prevailing tempo.

A trivial question: This score begins, unusually, with half a bar of 4/4. Would we number that bar 1 or 0?

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John Ruggero
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Feb 2016, 01:34

No apologies necessary, MJCube. I didn't feel you were denigrating my work, just pointing out some errors. I should have made it clear that I was illustrating what was in the edition with this example. Everything in the example is exactly as in the Peters (except those pesky precautionary sharps) and that includes the triplet bracket. I personally don't care for it in this case for the reason you mentioned: it doesn't flow. The tiny slur used by the original publisher cannot be mistaken for a legato slur and works well. The missing triplet marking 4 bars earlier is the one error that I was referring to in a previous post. It is certainly not anything intentional by the composer.

An incomplete bar beginning a piece is generally not included in the measure numbering. I have never seen an exception to this. First and second endings are a different case. Some publishers include them in the consecutive numbering and some don't. I prefer the former.
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cGilmore
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by cGilmore » 08 Feb 2016, 07:53

John Ruggero wrote:I am very concerned about copyright issues and posting examples from music under copyright.
Is it wrong to post short snippets of the actual published music? I can understand an entire page or whatnot, and I understand the fuzziness of "how many bars are too many bars before it becomes wrong to post". But would you consider it the same as using a <30second snippet of recorded audio for educational purposes? I can see the slippery slope of making sure this AWESOME forum doesn't become a repository of copyrighted music, waving the banner of "for educational purposes only", but I'm just wondering if we should be as hesitant for a few bars of music.

Is there a guideline this forum should try to adhere to regarding posting snippets of copyrighted music?
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by Knut » 08 Feb 2016, 10:49

John Ruggero wrote:I agree most of your comments but didn't understand: "You're probably right that the most important misconception of the engraver is the grouping of the notes." I meant to say that the engraver seems to be following the composer's MS (which I would love to see) in positioning the notes as they are engraved and was right to do so.
I was referring to the engraver of the new edition and the effect of the tuplet number on the grouping of notes.
John Ruggero wrote:I am sure that Gould understands tuplets as well as anyone but is having a problem expressing it clearly, something that does happen occasionally in her book.
MJCube wrote:As for Gould’s definition of a tuplet, “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” [popular version of Roger Sessions’ paraphrase of Einstein]
You are right, of course, and it was probably overzealous of me to suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, I think Gould is guilty of something more than oversimplification, as implied by the Einstein quote, with this definition. Her book is a very good reference text, especially compared to other titles available on the subject. It is not without it's faults, however, both in explanation and the level of thoroughness with which certain topics are discussed. And while this is undoubtedly something almost any text on the multi-faceted subject of music notation can be charged with one way or the other, I just can't help seeing her misrepresentation of such a basic principle as something of a symptom.
MJCube wrote:Okay, since it’s your work, some other questions come to mind: What do you think of the modern triplet bracket vs. the old-fashioned slur-like curve? Technically the same meaning, of course, but it seems the clarity of the bracket sacrifices a certain visual flow. And I notice in the first ed. 4 bars earlier is another triplet in 2/4, but lacking any “3”! I wonder if that was deliberate on Ravel’s part? Perhaps one just plays the LH scale as fast as possible, and it will still be slower than the prevailing tempo.
I personally have no problem with this edit. I don't think it interferes with the musical flow, and I see it simply as a reflection of the modern practice of clarifying the scope of a tuplet (even though it might not always be absolutely necessary). The slurred number style used in the first edition was the default style used by Durand (and many other publishers) at the time, but is rarely if ever used anymore. I see no reason for a modern edition to adopt it. Strictly speaking, even the style adopted by John in his reengraving is a bit old-school. The most recent version would be a broken bracket with the number in the middle, but I think either way is fine.

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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Feb 2016, 14:01

Knut wrote:
I was referring to the engraver of the new edition
Sorry, Knut, I get it now. For some reason, I am thinking of the editor as being the instigator of the numbers, not the poor engraver, who probably protested but was overruled. :)
...something of a symptom.
I have the same feeling about Gould at times. But what really bothers me is the ahistorical approach. It is not easy to explain music notation as if it began yesterday. And there is the lack of musical examples from the actual literature...But, of course, the book intends to be a style guide, not a history of music notation.

I also prefer the bracket for an unbeamed tuplet. It was just in this one case, that I could see advantages to the older system, and found it interesting that CJCube had felt the same way about it.

cGilmore, I am wondering the same thing: how much if any copyrighted music can one post on the internet legally? The same issue came up on the Beaming thread, where I am actually nervous about posting a Stravinsky quote that is public domain in the US but not internationally.
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Knut
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by Knut » 08 Feb 2016, 14:28

John Ruggero wrote:Sorry, Knut, I get it now. For some reason, I am thinking of the editor as being the instigator of the numbers, not the poor engraver, who probably protested but was overruled. :)
Haha, yes, you are probably right about that too.
John Ruggero wrote:I have the same feeling about Gould at times. But what really bothers me is the ahistorical approach. It is not easy to explain music notation as if it began yesterday. And there is the lack of musical examples from the actual literature...But, of course, the book intends to be a style guide, not a history of music notation.
I think your prior expressions of reservation towards Goulds text on historical grounds have rubbed off on me a bit, especially in the wake of all the 'Engravers vs. Composers' threads, which I have learned a great deal from. ;) I think there should definitely be room for a little more historical reflection within the all encompassing scope that Gould is clearly trying to cover. And indeed, in a few cases, she even seems to go for a more liberal approach than the most current practices, on the basis of history as well as pragmatism.

Regarding copyright: I have a lot of respect for your careful treatment of copyrighted material, John! I suspect you may technically be right in abstaining from publishing even a snippet of a copyrighted score. I'm no expert on the subject, however, and it would indeed be great if someone sufficiently knowledgeable could chime in to help us set some ground rules for publishing copyrighted examples on the forum.

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David Ward
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by David Ward » 08 Feb 2016, 21:26

John Ruggero wrote: E. Gould gives a very strange definition of a tuplet that is to me almost incomprehensible and seemingly incorrect:

"A tuplet is a rhythmic division that does not divide unto standard groups of two or three."
Even if John's minor typo (it should be 'into' not 'unto') is corrected, when taken out of the context of the paragraph which it begins, this definition may seem obscure. However, in its context as the first sentence of a complete explanatory paragraph, it becomes lucid enough (at least to me). I doubt she was trying to create a quotable aphorism.

And let us not forget the different ways in which we may express ourselves in various parts of the 'English speaking world.' On this forum I use 'I doubt' (as typed in the last sentence of the paragraph above) as it might be understood in 'Oxford English', and I presume that the same meaning generally pertains in the US; but here in Scotland 'I doubt' - likely pronounced 'Ah doot' - often has a nearly opposite meaning! In many forms of Scots speech, if you say something, someone might then agree with your statement by commenting 'I doubt that', which would have the opposite meaning if said in England (and also in the US, maybe).

And yet we hope to agree on musical notation!
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John Ruggero
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 09 Feb 2016, 00:01

Thanks for correcting the typo, David. I seem so prone to these that I never saw it after several re-readings of the quote.

So here is the whole thing correctly quoted (I hope):

"Definition

A tuplet is a rhythmic division that does not divide into standard groups of two or three. Such groups are considered to be 'irregular' to the regular two ( :4 beat, etc.) or three ( :4d beat, etc.) division. Their notation relies on adding numerals to show their different division. The difference is conceived as a distortion of the standard values. (Henry Cowell. in his New Musical resources, created an imaginative alternative notation by using different-shaped noteheads for each division of the beat, although he did not apply his theory within many of his works.)" ("Behind Bars" by Elaine Gould, p. 193)

I used only the first sentence because the rest seemed similarly enigmatic and questionable, in particular, the idea that tuplets are a distortion of something, and the digression concerning Henry Cowell in a definition.

However, I quoted Gould not to criticize her book, but because it has become almost a necessity to do it when dealing with notational standards. I was actually quite surprised by the obscurity of this definition, which I hadn't met previously in her book.
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by Knut » 09 Feb 2016, 00:24

David Ward wrote:Even if John's minor typo (it should be 'into' not 'unto') is corrected, when taken out of the context of the paragraph which it begins, this definition may seem obscure. However, in its context as the first sentence of a complete explanatory paragraph, it becomes lucid enough (at least to me). I doubt she was trying to create a quotable aphorism.

And let us not forget the different ways in which we may express ourselves in various parts of the 'English speaking world.' On this forum I use 'I doubt' (as typed in the last sentence of the paragraph above) as it might be understood in 'Oxford English', and I presume that the same meaning generally pertains in the US; but here in Scotland 'I doubt' - likely pronounced 'Ah doot' - often has a nearly opposite meaning! In many forms of Scots speech, if you say something, someone might then agree with your statement by commenting 'I doubt that', which would have the opposite meaning if said in England (and also in the US, maybe).

And yet we hope to agree on musical notation!
Just to add to John's reply,

I'm no native english speaker, but to my understanding, the entire paragraph deals only with subdivisions irregular to binary or ternary note divisions, which is what is basically summarized in the opening sentence that John quoted. In other words, her definition neglects any tuplets irregular to any other value than two or three, which is not uncommon in modern music (e.g., some of the tuplets in the last Xenakis piece quoted in this thread is not considered by Gould's definition: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=95&start=70#p1559. Even though she is right that tuplets, even in the majority of cases, may be characterized by her definition, I consider it a misconception of what constitutes this particular rhythmical phenomenon, particularly by modern standards.

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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 09 Feb 2016, 03:43

Thank you, Knut. That is what the first part of her definition means to me as well. It does not seem to describe the general phenomenon, but only a subset.

I am glad that everyone is enjoying and learning from this forum, the brainchild of OCTO. I certainly am.
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