The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Recommendations, opinions, and reviews of books and sites.
User avatar
MarkSealey
Posts: 11
Joined: 26 Apr 2018, 19:06

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by MarkSealey » 30 Apr 2018, 22:11

Have now received both books.

Our worry was that the Kelly (Capturing Music) was something of a 'show' book… all presentation and less/insufficient substance.

Far from it!

Yes, it is indeed beautifully produced: the paper is very glossy. There are multiple colored illustrations; in fact few pages contain only text.

Some of the illustrations are plates on their own; most form part of Kelly's narrative.

Fittingly, other aspects of the visual appearance of the book are due to an imaginative and striking - though never gratuitously 'flashy' - design. This is published by Norton, after all.

At just over 200 substantive pages, it's neither exhaustive/comprehensive nor overtly scholarly… but there is a smattering of notes, texts (with translations into English) and an index.

Kelly occasionally uses language which some will find a little off-putting. He writes of notes as 'weird shapes', explains them, then writes 'Is that clear?' [page 190]. And entitles one of his chapters 'Franco Figures it out'. Nor does he stint from offering authorial opinions… 'It might be worth pausing for a moment…' [p95].

So Kelly's style is chatty; perhaps even a little self-indulgent in places; veering towards the kind of approach which put us immediately on the alert for 'dumbing down'.

The important point, though - and the reason why I now understand why so many respectable and knowledgeable folk recommended it so highly - is that it's packed with a well-organized, carefully-presented and accessibly-illustrated history. It's dense with facts, developments in the long story (as the author might have it) of how music is notated. I shall certainly learn a lot from the book. And am glad I bought it.

Note that it really is heavily weighted towards Mediaeval music with an odd 'postscript' occupying pages 200 to 208 which suddenly looks at mechanical and digital recording, then Alban Berg.

But in the absence of anything more detailed (Williams' 'The Story of Notation' is about a third longer, much more sparsely-illustrated, begins with the Greeks, was written over a hundred years ago, yet is equally deserving of the attention of anyone interested in learning about marks on the page, and eventually the staff), I think we were right to anticipate a sturdy, well-written exposition on notation from Capturing Music. Unless you're already a specialist, this book seems to me very unlikely to disappoint.

Happy to amplify and answer questions if anyone is curious.

(Thanks for 'listening' :).)
--
Mark Sealey
Music lover and listener for over 50 years.
Composer (formerly Logic, Sibelius) now Dorico - on Mac); writer on music; reviewer for Classical Net and MusicWeb; poet; educator; web developer (retired).

benwiggy
Posts: 179
Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by benwiggy » 04 May 2018, 08:29

I have "The Notation of Western Music - An Introduction" by Richard Rastall, (a new digital print of the original 1983 publication). It covers everything from Early Christian neumes up to 1970s avante garde.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1271
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by John Ruggero » 12 May 2018, 15:21

Thanks, benwiggy. I will look into that one.

What I am really looking for is something that will cover every element of our system and show its development from first appearance to the present. For example, who invented the staccato dot, how was it first used and positioned, how did various composers use it, how was it engraved by different publishers and positioned in relation to other elements etc. That would be a fascinating book.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 13 May 2018, 15:28, edited 1 time in total.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
MarkSealey
Posts: 11
Joined: 26 Apr 2018, 19:06

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by MarkSealey » 12 May 2018, 15:41

John,

That's exactly what I've been looking for. Such encyclopedic details doesn't yet seem to have been aggregated into one volume, or (online) source.

Of those books of which I am now aware - thanks to the kindness of posters here - the Abdy Williams seems to come closest. Its Appendix C, for instance, in which we learn that inn 1322 there was a Papal Bull to suppress the semibreve and minim… the latter had been 'invented' (first used?) half a century earlier by Walter Odington.

Abdy [p190] explains that the staccato 'sign' (?) first appears in Couperin, JS Bach and Rameau as we now know it; and in JC Bach as a dot or upright stroke according to the 'degree' (presumably of length) required.

I suspect (I haven't seen it) that the Apel is more comprehensive.
--
Mark Sealey
Music lover and listener for over 50 years.
Composer (formerly Logic, Sibelius) now Dorico - on Mac); writer on music; reviewer for Classical Net and MusicWeb; poet; educator; web developer (retired).

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1271
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by John Ruggero » 13 May 2018, 15:47

As you said, none of these books has the kind of detail that we seem to be looking for. And the Williams stops just when things would be getting most interesting, at least for my purposes.

If anyone wants to write such a book, I would suggest starting with Gould and researching backwards. Then arrange it in chronological order.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
MarkSealey
Posts: 11
Joined: 26 Apr 2018, 19:06

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by MarkSealey » 13 May 2018, 18:48

John,

I agree: the three most prominent books tend to concentrate on the early development and tail off at the Baroque. There obviously really is a golden opportunity for someone here.
--
Mark Sealey
Music lover and listener for over 50 years.
Composer (formerly Logic, Sibelius) now Dorico - on Mac); writer on music; reviewer for Classical Net and MusicWeb; poet; educator; web developer (retired).

benwiggy
Posts: 179
Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by benwiggy » 14 May 2018, 13:51

John Ruggero wrote:
12 May 2018, 15:21
What I am really looking for is something that will cover every element of our system and show its development from first appearance to the present. For example, who invented the staccato dot, how was it first used and positioned, how did various composers use it, how was it engraved by different publishers and positioned in relation to other elements etc. That would be a fascinating book.
Something like this?
fullsizeoutput_c39.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_c39.jpeg (2.92 MiB) Viewed 800 times

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1271
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by John Ruggero » 14 May 2018, 14:21

Thanks for the example, benwiggy. That is what I am looking for, but with far more detail. Instead of "For most of the Baroque period" there would be examples of the first known hand-written and engraved staccato dots and then many more examples of its continued development through the Baroque to the present. There would be discussion both of its interpretation and the way in which it was engraved and coordinated with other symbols like slurs, and examples of interesting special uses of the symbol.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
MarkSealey
Posts: 11
Joined: 26 Apr 2018, 19:06

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by MarkSealey » 14 May 2018, 14:38

Actual timelines would be useful too :-)
--
Mark Sealey
Music lover and listener for over 50 years.
Composer (formerly Logic, Sibelius) now Dorico - on Mac); writer on music; reviewer for Classical Net and MusicWeb; poet; educator; web developer (retired).

benwiggy
Posts: 179
Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: The Critical Editing of Music : History, Method, and Practice

Post by benwiggy » 14 May 2018, 15:37

MarkSealey wrote:
12 May 2018, 15:41
inn 1322 there was a Papal Bull to suppress the semibreve and minim… the latter had been 'invented' (first used?) half a century earlier by Walter Odington.
That's interesting. Thomas Morley wrote:

"The invention of the minim they ascribe to a certain priest (or who he was I know not) in Navarre, or what country it was that they termed Navernia; but the first who used it was one Philip de Vitry** whose motets for some time were of all others best esteemed and most used in the church."

** (c.1290 - 1361) His Ars novae notandi was written in 1322, which is a match for the papal bull.

Post Reply