Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

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John Ruggero
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 17 Dec 2015, 16:44

Peter, because of your comments, it suddenly dawned on me that another reason Arnstein's approach was so good was exactly because of meters like 4/2, where one would otherwise be using whole rests with two meanings, as a whole measure rest AND as half a measure rest! OMG

Yes, I understand the queasiness about using "great big" whole measure rests for small meters like 1/16, but Arnstein made no exceptions. And actually (and I hope this doesn't cause consternation), he generally "caused" composers to avoid 1/x measures entirely, and combined such with the previous or successive measures. For example, if the composer had written 2/4 1/8 3/4, this became 5/8 3/4 in the score and parts. After the first rehearsal, everyone thanked him for it too.
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Peter West » 26 Dec 2015, 14:59

Indeed, but I think that any player who sees 4/2 and a whole rest is likely to know that it is a full bar rest (centred) or a measured rest (aligned left with other notes in the bar). I think a player would be having a serious problem not to be able to tell the difference.

I have seen editions of Monteverdi where triple time is notated as 3/1, so a bar may have 2 whole rests and a whole note. The empty bars with a measure rest are not confusing. I think sometimes we have to step back and not over-analyse.

As far as the short bar rests are concerned, I think Arnstein was mostly working for session players who where sight reading and minimum rehearsal were available. In which case I can understand his attitude to situations as the example you describe, though I think "serious" (!!) composers would resist such editorial bullying (as they might see it). In fact, you might find this hard to believe, some composers will write none standard rests in simple time signatures and object when they are corrected, so merging bars would be heretical.
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 27 Dec 2015, 03:11

Arnstein rarely worked for session players, but almost exclusively for the major opera companies and orchestras in the US and abroad. From a previous thread:

"He prepared the parts for orchestral and operatic works by Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Virgil Thomson, William Schumann, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Alberto Ginestera, Krzystof Penderecki, Igor Stravinsky, David Amram, and many others. Works that opened both Lincoln Center (Barber’s Piano Concerto and Anthony and Cleopatra) and the Kennedy Center (Bernstein’s Mass) were handled by Arnstein and his team of copyists.

Yes, the most important "serious" composers of that time actually followed his advice on such matters because he was so respected and had such vast experience. They didn't consider it "bullying", but helping. Of course, with some composers such suggestions were unnecessary.

Continuing from the previous thread:

"Arnstein was an editor and authority on music notation as well as a copyist. He taught music copying at Juilliard from 1960 to1989, and an articles about him appeared in Time Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. The Music Research Division of the New York City Public Library at Lincoln Center houses the Arnstein Collection of numerous scores and parts that were still in his possession at his death in 1989."
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by Peter West » 27 Dec 2015, 21:40

Thanks for that, I didn't know his background.
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 27 Dec 2015, 23:24

You are very welcome, Peter. Arnstein was a copyist from 1926-1989, the year he died. He was a friend of L. Bernstein and had known him since before WWII, when Bernstein was still an unknown.

Peter West wrote:
I have seen editions of Monteverdi where triple time is notated as 3/1, so a bar may have 2 whole rests and a whole note. The empty bars with a measure rest are not confusing.
Not being knowledgable about early notation, I browsed at IMSLP. The impression gained is that modern transcriptions use the whole measure rest and the whole rest side by side as described by Peter West.

However, when we look at a Monteverdi original autograph, we see that the composer did something different: he uses what to me looks like a Iong(us) rest, which differentiates it from the breve and whole-note rest that follow. Judging from a few other examples, Monteverdi's practice seems to make the long rest the equivalent of our whole measure rest, possibly because it is used less frequently than the other rests at its true value. (But see measure 3.) I attach the original and the transcription from the complete works edition.

Note that the attached modern transcription does away with the long and breve rests and divides them into modern whole rests, so that we have seas of whole rests. It would seem that if the choice were between preserving the old note values vs. preserving the rest relationships, the latter would be a better course. To achieve that, the music would be presented in modern note values, which would give the impression of something potentially vital and not something to be relegated to library shelves. There must be many editions that do precisely that.

Perhaps someone with real knowledge of early notation will correct me concerning these matters.
Monteverdi Poppea  MS.jpg
Monteverdi Poppea MS.jpg (563.29 KiB) Viewed 4065 times
Monteverdi Poppea Mod Ed.jpg
Monteverdi Poppea Mod Ed.jpg (143.6 KiB) Viewed 4065 times
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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by erelievonen » 07 Jan 2016, 00:03

John Ruggero wrote: However, when we look at a Monteverdi original autograph, we see that the composer did something different: he uses what to me looks like a Iong(us) rest, which differentiates it from the breve and whole-note rest that follow. Judging from a few other examples, Monteverdi's practice seems to make the long rest the equivalent of our whole measure rest, possibly because it is used less frequently than the other rests at its true value. (But see measure 3.)
I don't think there are any "whole measure rests" in the Monteverdi manuscript example. It looks like Monteverdi is trying to notate all rests with their true value. To understand how and why, we have to know the state of development of notation at that time.

Firstly, bar lines, at that time, were a rather new invention. (Earlier renaissance vocal polyphony was normally written without any barlines.)
Barlines were initially used only as a courtesy to indicate where some heavy beats fall, but it was not required to use barlines consistently or at regular intervals. Barlines at irregular intervals are so common in this era that it cannot have been considered to be wrong (at that time).
If you look at the Monteverdi example, there are 2 measures of 6/1, followed by one measure of 9/1, then again 6/1.
Because measure lengths are not constant (or indicated by changing time signatures), the entire concept of a "whole measure rest" was impossible in Monteverdi's time. One had to notate all rests with their true value.

There is also a remnant of a much earlier notational practice at play here. In earliest mensural notation, dotted notes were not yet used in the same way as we do today. Instead, (to simplify a bit) in triple time, a note or rest could equal three of the next smaller subdivision. Eventually, dotted notes came to be used as we do today, but for some reason this practice was not extended to rests. In triple time, an undotted rest could still equal the value of the corresponding dotted note. This practice can be observed until long into the Baroque period, and this is what we can see in the Monteverdi manuscript.
In measure 5: one breve rest = 3/1 (one beat).
In measures 1, 3 and 6: one longa rest = two breve rests = 6/1 (two beats).
In measure 2, the first rest equals a dotted breve, while the second rest is a regular whole rest.
(In measure 4 there seems to be some mistake.)

Well, I haven't analyzed other Monteverdi manuscripts, so I might be jumping to conclusions here, but this is what it looks like to me.
John Ruggero wrote: It would seem that if the choice were between preserving the old note values vs. preserving the rest relationships, the latter would be a better course. To achieve that, the music would be presented in modern note values, which would give the impression of something potentially vital and not something to be relegated to library shelves.
It is highly surprising to hear such an opinion from you, John. Elsewhere, you have been strongly demanding that modern editions must preserve the original notations of the old masters such as Beethoven. Why should we treat Monteverdi differently from Beethoven?
I'd think that entirely changing all note values is much more invasive than the occasional modification of some rests. In fact, the Monteverdi example in question could be made to comply with modern standards of notation simply by adding editorial dots to some of the rests.
And can you explain why a 3/1 meter, like here, could not possibly be vital? (It was a very common meter in the 16th century.)

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Re: Arnstein and the "whole measure rest"

Post by John Ruggero » 07 Jan 2016, 02:16

It might have seemed like an out-of-character remark, Ere, but I did say "...if the choice were between…"

Actually, there does not have to be a choice between the note values and the rests, and that is why I object to the edition above; it is neither fish nor fowl. A modern scholarly edition of this work should preserve the autograph faithfully, with no changes to the note values OR rests. Specialist performers who wish to read from the original text are then able to do so.

But a practical performance edition might with benefit intelligently modernize the notation so that what a performer sees today corresponds with what a performer saw in Monteverdi's day: the notation "normal" for their time. What information is lost by making dotted longs into dotted half notes; whole-notes into quarter notes, half-notes into 1/8th notes? If there is such information lost, I withdraw my suggestion. What is gained, however, seems great: ease of reading and in comprehension so that the spirit of the music is not clouded by an "antique" impression.

Thank you for your explanation of the rests in the autograph. I had hoped that someone with greater knowledge than I would chime in. I need to look through your comments with greater care; but cannot do that at the moment, unfortunately. However, it appears that you are actually making my case for me as regards Peter West's comment. If your interpretation is correct and I am understanding you correctly, Monteverdi is not using longus rests as both whole-measure rests and with their normal meaning (or in our terms whole-rests used with two meanings), because there are no whole-measure rests present at all—all rests are receiving their normal value. It is only the imperfect transcription that gives the impression of whole-rests being used in two senses.
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