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Bill Stevens
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   Posted 10/11/2014 10:41 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
The online magazine "I Care If You Listen" has an piece about hand written versus digitally engraved music. Whether you agree or not, it makes interesting reading.

http://www.icareifyoulisten.com

Look for the article in the column on the right, under "Read our most popular posts".

Bill


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David Ward
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   Posted 10/11/2014 11:42 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Yes, very interesting.

Although he was then getting a bit off his original subject, as soon as I saw the two Waldstein examples, I compared the Peters edition which I have here, which, like the Henle, claims to be Urtext. What is strikingly different is the distribution of the music between the staves.

For much of my career, musicians have been playing from my or a copyist's MS (or photocopy of same). I think most musicians to whom I speak now prefer computer versions, although they often tell me that badly laid out 'Sibelius' parts are more of a hazard than all except the worst MS scrawls. (In the UK 'Sibelius' has become a generic term for computer typeset music, just as 'Hoover' and 'hoovering' is for a vacuum cleaner, even if actually a Dyson by make).


David Ward
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Peter Thomsen
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   Posted 10/11/2014 11:50 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks for sharing this, Bill.

Such thoughts are too seldom discussed here.

Peter


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Dr. Wiggy
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   Posted 10/11/2014 11:53 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
A good score is a good score, be it handwritten or machine produced. I've seen some beautiful handwritten scores and some awful ones; some beautiful engraved/typed scores and some shocking ones.

My personal bugbear is singing from an ms where all notes on ledger lines are written with noteheads at the same height, but just with more lines underneath them. Arrrrgh.

Then again, some of the scores on the CPDL makes me burst in fury. "Technology is no substitute for talent."


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Motet
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   Posted 10/11/2014 1:50 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Here is a better URL

www.icareifyoulisten.com/2012/03/handwritten-vs-digitally-engraved-scores-an-opinion-post-by-r-andrew-lee/

Sorry to be negative, but I'm afraid I found the article underwhelming. Yes, the manuscript and engraved editions are different--what a surprise!--but he says nothing about why that matters, other than the handwritten score seems more personal. It would be interesting to examine why. If it's more expressive, rather than just different, how is it so? If you just say it's "better," you're just expressing a not terribly self-aware opinion.

The Waldstein comparison seems even more pointless. Yes, the modern Henle edition is nicer than the cheap Dover reprint of a 100-year-old edition. If you compare the size of a note between the two editions, it becomes much less mysterious how Henle managed to get more music on the page. (I'm not sure "Urtext" extends to where the system breaks are, David. The Henle edition also benefits from decades more scholarly research than the Peters edition. If you look at the notes, not only is the autograph consulted, but early editions in which Beethoven had a hand as well.)

The composer's manuscript shown in the article is quite beautiful, though, unusually so, I think, for a composer as opposed to a copyist who has been trained in matters of spacing, etc.


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Post Edited (Motet) : 10/11/2014 11:25:48 PM (GMT-5)

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Saffron
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   Posted 10/11/2014 3:12 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Interesting. In musical theatre (my main working field), handwritten scores and parts are still commonplace. Some are very hastily scribbled; others, laid out more carefully. One by one, shows are being re-engraved, usually in Finale, in MOST cases, I find the results LESS appealing and harder to work from than the older, hand-written scores. Subtle variations in spacing, strength of strokes, and so on, is absent in the computer-generated output from Finale or Sibelius; stuff that either hand-writing copyists of traditional engravers could do instinctively, is either difficult or impossibly time-consuming to achieve in software.

Brian


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David Ward
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   Posted 10/11/2014 3:26 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Motet said...
I'm not sure "Urtext" extends to where the system breaks are, David.
I wasn't referring to the system breaks, but rather to which notes were on which stave within the system. The Peters edition is strikingly different from the Henle in this respect, although both claim to be Urtext. As it happens, they both appear to have the same system breaks (unlike the Dover reprint).


David Ward
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Motet
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   Posted 10/11/2014 4:32 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Ah, sorry I misunderstood you. But I don't know that Urtext extends to distribution of notes between the staves, either. I'm not a pianist, but isn't it the case that left/right hand and top/bottom staff can't always be followed? With something like late Beethoven I'm guessing that inner voices must at least in part left up to the discretion of the player. But I suspect the differences between the two editions is more the engraver's call, and doesn't have anything to do with Urtext. But if it does, the notes in the edition would probably mention it.


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soundartist
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   Posted 10/11/2014 10:52 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Agreeing with Wiggy and Motet.
The article is very interesting where the pianist suggests a more intimate connection with a handwritten score. The article goes much too far, though—to an absurd degree—when referring to the different Waldstein printings where the writer asks to "consider how these breaks might alter the perception of the piece and its performance. " Where system breaks occur, or how many bars there are in a staff is totally irrelevant to how a piece is interpreted and performed—unless I'm misunderstanding the article. In his Dover and Henle examples, bottom-line is that the information is exactly identical—notes, dynamics, articulations. A score should be printed clearly, regardless of the means—common sense.

Unrelated, but regarding "Urtext": I performed Beethoven's op. 109 on tour a few years ago. In one concert series, a musicologist was hired to write the program notes and he gave a pre-concert lecture (his doctoral thesis was about the history of Urtext editions). I knew that Urtext was a highly deceptive term, but didn't realize to what degree until reading his notes. Bottomline—if a composer's markings are failed to be exactly reproduced, or if little information exists about what the composer's intentions were (in documents other than the score), a publisher cannot rightfully claim the given piece as "Urtext". Goldenweiser protested this state of affairs and produced his own edition of the Beethoven sonatas where he's very careful and ethical to examine every sonata in detail in terms of in fact how much or how little documentation exists about Beethoven's intentions. The other side of this coin is that Urtext may also refer to a printing of an edition that exactly reflects the best-known manuscript or first-edition print on an "as is" basis, regardless of what the history behind the source is—so that if manuscript's history is ambiguous, edition is still Urtext because it faithfully reproduces whichever document remains. This is a totally legitimate designation for Urtext, but most people instead have been seduced by the authoritarian "dogma" of the first definition—a "blind trust" in a publisher's claim of authenticity, and publishers have capitalized on this.

The musicologist presented a document where Beethoven found many errors in the first printed edition of op109, but these corrections were never communicated to the publisher. The piece has since continued to be published, unaltered from its original printing—and yet, Henle, Barenreiter and others claim it as an Urtext edition. Practically all of Henle's editions of Bach's keyboard works are claimed as Urtext—a huge error, considering how little is known about many of those manuscripts. Big difference between faithful scholarship and dogma.
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BobRock
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   Posted 10/11/2014 10:58 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Regarding Beethoven: do we have someone on the forum, able to tell from which edition Waldstein sonata is played - just by listening to the recording?
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Zuill
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   Posted 10/11/2014 11:18 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
All I know is, when engraving hand written scores by the late Fred Katz, I was told by the performers how much easier the engraved scores were to read. In fact, some of the hand written scores were unreadable. The printed scores saved unmeasured hours of prep time for the performers. Maybe the hand done script had an artistic flair, but if a performer can't read the notes, the music is dead in the water.

Zuill


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Motet
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   Posted 10/11/2014 11:51 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Take a look at a facsimile of Mozart's or Beethoven's autograph sometime--practically illegible. I once had to consult the autograph of the Barber of Seville to clear up something and it was horrible. Mostly they composed the music and then handed it over to the publisher rather than making a fair copy.

If you read the notes at the beginning of an Urtext edition of Beethoven you'll discover that the autograph is full of mistakes and inconsistencies. So the editor must rely on common sense, early editions, corrections of those by the composer, and letters between publisher and composer. In some cases it will be a judgement call. A good edition will note where such a choice had to be made and mark the spot with a footnote. I'm not sure why Goldenweiser is any more trustworthy at this task than other editors.


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Zuill
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   Posted 10/12/2014 12:33 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Wiggy said...

My personal bugbear is singing from an ms where all notes on ledger lines are written with noteheads at the same height, but just with more lines underneath them. Arrrrgh.
I noticed some of those in the manuscript of Ann Southam in the article referenced in this thread. I suppose that is part of the artistic attraction to manuscript. Never mind readability.
 
Zuill


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soundartist
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   Posted 10/12/2014 12:38 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Am long familiar with some of those manuscripts—they're common knowledge.
That was precisely Goldenweiser's point, that because of so many inconsistencies and mistakes, the term Urtext is pointless if it means "authoritative" edition. As far as I've examined, he's the only editor who's made a point of conveying that. Example of poor "editorship" of Beethoven is Schnabel's comments—his claims are much more Schnabel than Beethoven. This can actually be fine, if his claims are limited to only his playing, in performance or recording where interpretation is highly subjective—but this is not scholarship. His edition is basically a description of how he plays.
In general, a truly fine editor who tries to "dig for the truth" while offering a convincing interpretation, is rare. Highly delicate process, to balance subjectivity with truth. Mugellini—a mighty example.
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Saffron
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   Posted 10/13/2014 5:39 AM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Certainly true about autograph manuscripts - on the rear cover of one of my copies of Beethoven's OP 27 No 2 (Moonlight Sonata), is a facsimile of one of the pages from the manuscript. It's well nigh impossible to match it to any of his sonatas, let alone the one engraved in the earlier pages!

Brian


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Ronwass
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   Posted 10/13/2014 10:22 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
What's manuscript?


Ron Wasserman
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Zuill
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   Posted 10/13/2014 10:38 PM (GMT -5)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Remember? A chisel and a stone?

Zuill


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