The new "Standardization" phobia in music editing

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John Ruggero
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The new "Standardization" phobia in music editing

Post by John Ruggero »

In the quest for an accurate text, some editors "generally refrain...from standardizing dynamics and articulation in parallel passages. We only standardize where a difference in notation is obviously due to carelessness." (from the notes to the new Henle edition of Beethoven's piano sonatas edited by Gertsh and Perahia.) Claudio Arrau's otherwise excellent edition of the sonatas has the same philosophy.

The older approach was to assume that discrepancies between parallel passages were a bad thing and needed to be fixed, but now greater weight is given to the differences, on the theory that Beethoven's creativity sometimes expressed itself through small differences in the performance indications.

It is fascinating to see the way fashions in all matters human seem to swing back and forth between extremes. I am sure that there is some sociological term for this. Being an idealist, however, I don't put much stock in fashions, and just want the truth, which I am sure exists and can be determined.

As I have discussed in several previous posts, I consider that many of the apparent discrepancies in Beethoven's piano sonatas are the result of "progressive correction". Beethoven decides that he doesn't like something, and from that point on changes it to something else. Rather than correcting the earlier occurrences by crossing out or erasing and making mess of the manuscript, he assumes that the engravers will catch on and apply the change throughout. Chopin did exactly the same in his Etudes and probably other works.

Other discrepancies are simply errors by the engraver in reading the manuscript, or oversights by the composer. In my opinion, such inconsistencies should be allowed to stand only in a very few special cases and when they are, they must be explained in the editorial notes.

Here is an example that I just encountered:
op 7 ex 1.jpeg
op 7 ex 1.jpeg (46.27 KiB) Viewed 272 times
op 7 ex 2.jpeg
op 7 ex 2.jpeg (49.15 KiB) Viewed 272 times
In the first movement of Beethoven's piano Sonata op. 7 the slurring at X not only doesn't match Y, but doesn't follow Beethoven's usual practice of avoiding slurring over repeated tones in a melody, which I have mentioned in an earlier post. it also sounds a little strange, for a reason that will be explained below.

Despite this, it is engraved exactly as it stands in Claudio Arrau's edition for Peters.

The following analysis shows that the slurring that Beethoven uses at Y must be the intended one, because the slurring at X completely breaks up and otherwise obscures at A and B the two-note motive (bracketed) that is forming an ascending sequence. This motive is the main idea of the the entire movement and stands out throughout.
op 7 analysis.jpeg
op 7 analysis.jpeg (51.47 KiB) Viewed 272 times
Many older editions, including Schenker's have corrected X to conform with Y. I will do the same. Adherence to the original sources is a very good thing, but there can be "too much of a good thing".
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benwiggy
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Re: The new "Standardization" phobia in music editing

Post by benwiggy »

In Pergolesi's MS of his Stabat mater, he's clearly "up against a deadline", and stops drawing slurs and articulations on repeated figures, but it's obvious that they should be performed in the same way.

I also see instrumental parts of 18th-century concertante works, where only the Violino concertante and continuo parts have dynamics, but again, these should clearly be applied to all the strings. (I put them in brackets, though.)

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John Ruggero
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Re: The new "Standardization" phobia in music editing

Post by John Ruggero »

Thanks, benwiggy. That is a related topic of interest.

It could also be Pergolesi's standard practice to leave out obvious performance indications on repeated figures. I see this not only in manuscripts but in the first editions of the time. It was both a time saver and a way keep the notation as simple as possible as a matter of principle. They almost seem to consider it insulting or obsessive to state the obvious over and over.

My practice is to put anything conjectural or supplementary in brackets or in dashed form (slurs). When the composer omits markings because they are to be applied to immediate exact repeats or in exact sequences, I do not add the markings but place a small (sim.) to clarify the situation for the modern player. This keeps the text closer to the original.
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,
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