Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

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John Ruggero
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Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by John Ruggero » 25 Feb 2016, 03:40

Inspired by the recent discussion of a decline in music engraving standards in the thread "Re: Posting non-PD music", even with publishers like Henle, I decided to compare the original edition of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor at:

http://ks.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usim ... 0piano.pdf

with the same piece in the recent Henle edition of the Complete Preludes, which may be viewed by clicking on "Look Inside" at:

http://www.henleusa.com/us/detail/index ... ludes_1200

Anyone who wishes to follow my observations in greater detail may open both scores from these sites. I have also compared these two editions with the composer's autograph.

Page 1. Despite his promise to preserve unconventional stem direction when of interpretative importance, the Henle editor has changed the LH stem direction throughout the first page. The original edition, following the MS, gives the lower LH octave melody with up stems, and the off-beat chords with down stems, as seen in this example. This very intelligent notation avoids placing the stems and beams of the very high and low ledger line notes facing outward on the staff:
Rachmaninoff Prelude 1.jpg
Rachmaninoff Prelude 1.jpg (108.11 KiB) Viewed 6627 times
The Henle Edition reverses the stem direction, so that the high stems, beams, and articulations push the two staves apart. This would be counterintuitive for many pianists, because the two hands are interlocked throughout these chordal sequences. Many would wish for the staves to be closer together rather than farther apart.

Someone might say (and this was possibly the editor's reasoning) that Rachmaninoff was forced into this stemming by the pre-printed staves of his music paper, which do not allow enough room for high beams between the staves. While this is true, it does not mean that he would have stemmed it differently if he had had the ability to move the staves apart. This is born out by his use of an up stem for the tied eighth note in measure 7 which actually creates a crowding issue. [For this reason, the first edition changes it to a down stem (see the red arrow).] This is further supported by the original down-stemmed LH off-beats in the last two measures of the middle part where there is no crowding issue at all. This is also changed in the first edition as shown in the following example at the X's, as well as in the Henle edition.

Pages 2-3 Rachmaninoff writes in every triplet number with a slur until the alternating hands passage at the end where there are numbers only. This could be a vestige of his student days; he had only just graduated when this work was published. While the triplets are preserved exactly as in the MS in the first edition, the Henle editor rightfully eliminates the needless clutter of the triplet numbers, but considers the slurs to be real legato markings and includes them all. Internal evidence suggests that this is correct.

Henle places the turn on page 3 immediately after the last two measures of the middle section, after system 1 in the example below, exactly as in the MS and as in most recent editions. It is a far better choice than in the first edition where the decision to put the turn after system 2 in the example below seems dictated solely by the effort to engrave the piece on four pages.

Pages 4-5 In the final part of the piece, Rachmaninoff draws the barlines through all four staves. However, he uses two sets of braces: a pair on the inside to show the RH vs LH and a large one on the outside to group them. The first edition wisely did away with this complication, and shows the RH vs LH with the two “inside” braces only and by breaking the barlines, allowing the left barline to show the unity of the system, as seen on the 2nd system of the following example:
Rachmaninoff Prelude 2.jpg
Rachmaninoff Prelude 2.jpg (164.12 KiB) Viewed 6627 times
The Henle edition draws the barline through the all four staves but uses only the one large brace, omiting the two inner braces. With this selective authenticity, the editor gives us the worst of all worlds: no visual distinction between RH and LH at all except the m. d. and m. g.

Because there are only two systems on each of the last two pages, Henle spreads the staves to fill up the pages. This creates vast, unattractive, and visually confusing spaces between the staves.

Henle provides a critical report that comments on a few errors in positioning dynamic markings in the first edition and a few inconsequential divergencies in the notes between the different sources. It mentions that Rachmaninoff’s autographs are quite clean and correct and that he was an excellent proofreader as seen by extant proofs of the op. 32 Preludes. This born out by the remarkably few corrections listed in the critical reports for the op. 23 and 32 Preludes.

The Henle engraving lacks the austere beauty that I associate with this publisher. Many of the longer slurs are strangely shaped and some are too bowed for my taste. The first notes in many of the measures are much closer to the bar lines than in the first edition. This creates an issue on the last 2 pages where sFFFF symbols appear on downbeats and the long four-stave bar line must be broken to fit them in.

The original edition is much warmer in appearance than the Henle and appears guided by human rather than machine intelligence. The engraver of the this edition seems more aware of the musical and engraving issues involved.

Neither edition is perfect, however. The Henle has the advantage of hindsight and scholarship; the original edition is closer to the source and speaks of a time when warmth and soulfullness were a required ingredient in musical works, both played and engraved.

All things being equal, however, I would rather play from the old Schirmer edition. I prefer it to both of these editions.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 25 Feb 2016, 16:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by MJCube » 25 Feb 2016, 13:57

I couldn’t agree more, John. At first glance the reversed stem directions look as if the editor misunderstands the purpose of layers or voices in software in the first place: The point is not that Voice 2 has to be below Voice 1 in register, it’s simply that the stems default to opposite directions. So for mm. 3ff in the LH I would use Voice 1 for the long notes and Voice 2 for the eighth notes, and RH is the reverse. Easy! Now I suppose the editor was more thoughtful than that, and perhaps reasoned that LH should be done the same way as RH (for a foolish consistency). After all, we’ve got those tremendously low C#s in RH with stems down. But the eighth note chords in RH go as far below the staff as above, so there isn’t the same justification for pointing all the stems toward the staff as in LH. The function of the opposing stems is just to show two separate “voices” and they do that equally well up-down in LH as they do down-up in RH. And then of course in m. 8 LH there is no room, so we have a brief exception (for a note which is not even struck, but only tied).

I find it interesting that in the original edition all accents are placed above chords, while a more recent Russian edition and the new Henle edition place them on the notehead side where possible. This makes the most difference at the climax of the piece, where in O.E. the LH accents actually get in the way of the (maximal) dynamic markings. What do you think of the way the Henle edition separates the dynamics on the four staves? Obviously clearer in terms of a “2-voice” concept, but again it separates the staves as if this were ensemble rather than solo music.

I am quite against having the first beat of a bar appear “glued” to the previous barline, as spacing algorithms in all current software do. The barline is a divider between bars, not a component of the first beat of a bar. Lyrics in vocal music point up this horizontal spacing problem even more than huge dynamic markings (even though the barlines of vocal staves are usually disconnected such that lyric syllables may safely overlap them). When Rachy goes to 4 staves I would rather see what we find in that Russian edition: One big brace enclosing staves barred in pairs. (It even dispenses with the m.d. and m.g. markings.) But this is actually difficult to achieve with Sibelius (and Finale?) because the barline connections are global within a file. I think the Henle goes too far in trying to center huge dynamic markings under a chord.

I would very much like to see this manuscript one day. The gigantic conflagration this notation seems to portray was frightening for me to contemplate as a child, and sffff would seem to indicate the greatest possible explosion that one could produce with two hands on any piano. One might imagine such music to be scribbled in fury like a Mussorgsky or Beethoven MS, but from Rachmaninoff I expect I will still see dignified and clear notation.

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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by Knut » 25 Feb 2016, 15:22

I agree with all your assessments, John.

One thing you didn't point out, though, is how the Henle edition breaks the beam between the first two 8th notes in m. 7. I'm not sure why, but this decision wouldn't work well if both l.h. voices were stemmed down.

The humongous gap between the staves on the last system of p. 1, brought on by the conventional stemming in the Henle edition is a real eyesore. In addition to all your other points, it's quite clear, even from the first page, that the engraving of this edition is not on par with the quality associated with Henle.
MJCube wrote: The point is not that Voice 2 has to be below Voice 1 in register, it’s simply that the stems default to opposite directions. So for mm. 3ff in the LH I would use Voice 1 for the long notes and Voice 2 for the eighth notes, and RH is the reverse. Easy!
Not to be pedantic, but I would have to disagree with this statement. Rachmaninoff doesn't alternate between different voices for different note values, but as John pointed out, simply flips the stems to create more vertical space. It's true that the two primary voices defaults to different stem directions when they are divided, but the register does indeed play a part in determining the distribution of voices. Although voice crossing may occur, the generally highest voice is always stemmed up and the lowest voice is stemmed down. In this example, the inclusion and position of rests makes it clear that Rachmaninoff uses this same distribution for the left hand, even though the stems are flipped to accommodate comfortable distance between the r.h. and l.h. staves.

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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by John Ruggero » 25 Feb 2016, 17:25

Thank you so much, MJCube and Knut for your comments. It is always feels great when one's reactions are so closely shared by others.

MJCube wrote:
I find it interesting that in the original edition all accents are placed above chords, while a more recent Russian edition and the new Henle edition place them on the notehead side where possible...
At this point in his life at least, Rachmaninonff seems to prefer placing all accent and tenuto marks, including those amazing sFFFF markings above the notes.This is what happens in the MS of this prelude and also in the Elegy from the same opus. The only exception is where it is absolutely impossible to do this, as when an inner voice receives the marking as at the end of the Elegy.

Rachmaninoff's handwriting is spindly and gaunt, just like the composer. It is very clear but also unfussy. The note heads are quite small, the stems are long, and there are idiosyncrasies, for example, all ties go in the same upward direction; inner stems on beamed notes are not long enough to meet the beam, but stems on ALL ledger line notes touch every ledger line!

I wish that I could post the autograph, but I don't know the copyright status of published autographs like this one.
Here is the information:

Published: Moscow = Moskva : P. Jurgenson = P. I︠U︡rgenson, [2014]
Edition: Urtext & facsimile / edition prepared by V. Samarin
Copyright Date: ©2014
Description: 1 score (31 pages) : 12 facsimiles ; 29 cm
ISBN: 9790706392622
OCLC Number: 906678306
Publisher Number: 0145 Jurgenson
Publisher Number: J 0145 Jurgenson

It should be available at a good music library near you. It is in the Duke University music library.

Knut, Sorry. I didn't understand your comment about measure 7 in the Henle. There is a beam phrase break in measure 8, but that exists in all versions.

Now it is I who must be forgiven for being pedantic: IMO the designers of music engraving software have done a great disservice by redefining some previously accepted musical terms. One example is the term "voice", which formerly meant ONE sung or played tone at a time (without or with octave duplication), and still means that to me. The term "layer" is a great "new" term for several different VOICES moving in the same rhythm. I bring this up because I recently came up against a related confusion when exploring an Inspector item in MuseScore, and one of the forum members insisted that engravers now consider a "chord" to consist of ONE or more tones!
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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by cGilmore » 26 Feb 2016, 07:18

I'm with everyone for the most part.

A small decision that Henle made that had a big impact was in the second page. Henle keeps three bars per line instead of squeezing in 4 bars like the original. I prefer the spacing of Henle for these pages FAR more than the Breitkopf (except for measure 22. why is it so wide?). Doing so meant having to spread out the 4-stave section over two pages instead of one, and like you pointed out, I get why they're so spread out but that doesn't mean I have to like it. ;)

However, doesn't this decision make the page turn better in the Henle? Maybe that was their thought process? Although, I guess the original edition, the way it's laid out doesn't require a page turn going in to the last section.

I don't play piano, so there are a few things I have a question about with the final section:
- Shouldn't the dynamics be between the two staves for each hand like the original? Henle puts them below the bass clef staff.
- Along those lines, going back to bar 6, why is the mf inside the tie? Isn't there room below the whole note between the staves?
- While I'm sure this might be the composer's wishes, but are 4 staves necessary? I don't see anything special about the music that couldn't easily fit on a typical piano staff.

As a final thought, the naturals canceling the dbl sharp next to a sharp is annoying/messy to look at. Again, I get it, but I don't have to like it. :cool:
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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by Knut » 26 Feb 2016, 11:43

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, Sorry. I didn't understand your comment about measure 7 in the Henle. There is a beam phrase break in measure 8, but that exists in all versions.
Looking at it again, I think I confused two different measures in the editions. Sorry about that. I meant to comment on measure 11, but on the first chord of this measure, layer 1 is also flipped in the first edition, and it works. I do think the flipped stems work better when one layer is beamed, though, because it creates a stronger visual contrast between layers.

Regarding voices vs. layers: I used the term 'voices' mostly because MJCube used it in this way. (In Sibelius this term is also synonymous with 'layers' in Finale, btw.)

I agree that a voice can be a single note in a chord, but only if it is part of a melodic line, polyphonic or otherwise. For an isolated chord (e.g., at the end of a phrase), you could argue that the melodic line splits into several voices, but I think 'chord tone'' works better in this situation.

I also agree that there should exist a term specifically to distinguish down-stem voices or tones from up-stem voices or tones. Finale's term 'layers' works to a certain extent, but it becomes synonymous with voices when each melodic line is written on a dedicated stem, and can therefore be confusing. To me, it also speaks more to something three-dimensional, not to the upper and lower levels of notes with different stem directions as used in Finale.

All this is to say that I think a more unanimous terminology of chords, simultaneous melodic lines and stem directions are definitely in order.

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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by John Ruggero » 26 Feb 2016, 16:19

cGIlmore, thanks for pointing out my error concerning the page turn in the original edition, where the piece is laid out on two pairs of facing pages, with one impossible page turn in the middle of the fast section! This was so inconceivable to me and so different from most other editions that it completely eluded me.

The three measures to the line is logical in the middle part, given the logistics, and reads well. The original edition needed to gain a system and resorts to 4 measures a line, which is cramped.

The old system of canceling a double sharp is now obsolete, thank goodness.

The few dim. marks in the Henle are between the pairs of staves at the end, but uncentered, as in the MS. As I mentioned, R. put all accent marks above the notes (or stems). Henle brought this into customary usage: on the note heads side. Whether this is a good thing can be debated.

The position of the mF in measure 6 is actually a correction in the Henle to follow the MS which intends this marking for the chords, not the downbeat octave.

While the last two pages could have been written on two staves, I think it reads better in the original. It also suggests visually the monumental impression of the ending.

What to do about spacing in a case like the last two pages of the Henle is an interesting engraving question. The staves appear too spread apart, but what can be done? Two possibilities present themselves: neither, perfect:

1. Get rid of the extra space between the staves and place two measures on a line for 5 systems, as in 3 of the 5 systems in the MS. This yields three systems per page. Three systems can fit, as we see in the last page of the first edition. Of course the music is now very spread horizontally, but the sFFFF markings might justify this visually, especially if the music were not so close to the bar lines.

2. Take out the extra space between the staves, leave the existing space between the systems, and enter the whole allowing more space at the top and bottom of the page.

Knut, I did realize that you were simply following the terminology of the thread. And I know about "voices" in Sibelius and MuseScore (having done a little exploring of that software recently)— and, of course, Finale also uses the term "voice" incorrectly.

New technology needs new terminology, but I think that it is better if new terms are added rather than old terms redefined in confusing ways. "Layer" is a great example. This was only a vague descriptive term before Finale began to use it in a technical sense and it works perfectly for what it is describing: the Rachmaninoff is written with two layers of music in each hand. The layers consists of various numbers of voices, merging and expanding freely, as happens in keyboard music.

The LH octave in measure 11 is also an up stem in the MS as in measure 7, so that all the LH octaves are up stems on the first page of the original MS. Rachmaninoff appears to have been a very logical person.

In the MS, there is a huge encircled asterisk at the beginning of the last section referring to a comment in Russian at the bottom of the page. For the engraver? I would love to know what it says!
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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by MJCube » 26 Feb 2016, 19:57

No objection from me about the misuse of the word ‘voice’ (Sibelius’s term). ‘Layer’ works fine for this purpose.

@Knut: I tried it in Sibelius, and I have to admit in this case your way ends up easier, only because the articulations are on the note sides (unusually for 2 layers). Normally I still would rather not flip ALL the stems in a passage. The page doesn’t care what layer music is entered in; it’s a private matter, if you will, between the software and the operator (and perhaps the copying house which may have policy about such things).

Is the first half-bar of this piece also to be numbered zero? (If so, then I should have written “m. 8” instead of 7 in my other post.)

What does everyone think of horizontally centering the whole note in (what I now realize is) measure 1? Before the 20th century this was universal practice where all staves contain only a full-bar note, and no music software so far does this. I have been faking it in Finale and Sibelius for over a quarter century. Does anyone agree with me that the old-fashioned centered way looks better? It’s clearly centered in the first example in this thread, the new Henle edition glues the note to the left barline (which I hate), and the Russian edition I referred to above (1947 or 1955) looks sort of halfway between.

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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by John Ruggero » 26 Feb 2016, 22:34

Great, MJCube! Three votes for "layer" instead of "voice". But now how do we convince the rest of the musical world?

Initial incomplete measures are never included in the measure numbering.

With your comment on the centering of the whole note, you have hit upon a subject dear to my heart. See the following:

http://forum.makemusic.com/default.aspx?f=6&m=453925

Yes, by George, the first edition centers the whole note in the civilized way and the Henle does not.
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Re: Engraver vs Engraver; Editor vs Editor

Post by Knut » 27 Feb 2016, 14:58

John Ruggero wrote:New technology needs new terminology, but I think that it is better if new terms are added rather than old terms redefined in confusing ways. "Layer" is a great example. This was only a vague descriptive term before Finale began to use it in a technical sense and it works perfectly for what it is describing: the Rachmaninoff is written with two layers of music in each hand. The layers consists of various numbers of voices, merging and expanding freely, as happens in keyboard music.
Agreed.
MJCube wrote:@Knut: I tried it in Sibelius, and I have to admit in this case your way ends up easier, only because the articulations are on the note sides (unusually for 2 layers). Normally I still would rather not flip ALL the stems in a passage. The page doesn’t care what layer music is entered in; it’s a private matter, if you will, between the software and the operator (and perhaps the copying house which may have policy about such things).
I suspect we were using the term voices (now layers) in different ways here. My objection wasn't to the technique used to replicate the example in a scoring application, but rather how your original description seemed to imply that the chords on the written page alternated between layers. Regardless of the how the music is entered, it is clear that the upper chord still should be termed layer 1 and the bass notes layer 2, even if the stems are flipped opposite their default directions.

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