Editing Music for Performance
Notation and Editing 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
Students taking the course will transcribe and edit a variety of music, some vocal and some instrumental from the 17th to the 19th centuries, from reproductions of original sources. Some sources will be in score and others in parts; some will be manuscript and some printed. Certain pieces of work will involve a single source; others will require the collation and appraisal of more than one source, with variant readings tabulated and conclusions drawn about the relationship of the sources.
The module begins by offering a brief history of editing and its central role in the way in which music history and performance traditions have been established and are maintained. We will work through the various elements of how to prepare and edition, such as how to transcribe and note variants, correcting basic errors, establishing an editorial methodology, writing and understanding a critical commentary, how to evaluate sources and their relationships. We will also cover proof-reading and peer-review as well as various aspects of notation, such as tablature and obsolete mensuration time signatures. By the end of the module students will have a thorough knowledge of editions and modern editing practices, and they will develop skills of problem-solving, proof-reading, research, lateral thinking, and accuracy. The syllabus will be delivered through lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, as well as peer-led study groups.
The module is designed to give students a comprehensive introduction to the fundamental principles of editorial musicology. ‘Editing’ covers techniques and approaches of critical editing and philology, which will enable you to produce a scholarly edition with all the standard ingredients. Case studies for this part of the module are taken mainly from the so-called ‘common practice era’ (c.1650-1900). The ‘notation’ aspect will cover aspects such as tablature, mensural time signature and coloration. Additional tutorials in using Sibelius will be provided if required.
Please note: this module only deals with repertoire from after c.1600. It will cover instrumental and vocal music.
The module is typically offered at both year 2 and year 3: students may not take the module in both years. For assessment, the types of questions given in Coursework 1 and 2 are the same / similar for students in year 2 and 3; however, the actual questions differ between the year groups.
For Year 2 students this module is a pre-requisite for taking the Edition Project (WXM 3283) in year 3.
First Class: A+ to A** (84–100%) Work of this calibre will display all qualities of First Class work to an exceptional degree. An edition at this level will essentially be publishable as it stands. The work will be flawless or near flawless in all technical aspects (transcription, notation, typesetting, presentation, critical apparatus) and will show a high level of research, initiative and (where appropriate) originality in discussing the sources and their relationship, demonstrating a good knowledge of relevant philological issues. All issues arising from conflicting readings or illegible passages will be resolved convincingly and imaginatively.
First Class: A- and A (70–83%) The distinguishing quality is the accomplished presentation of a musical text and critical apparatus based on a full understanding and a convincing as well as intelligent evaluation of the sources. The work will contain only minor errors in all technical aspects (transcription, notation, typesetting, presentation, critical apparatus) and will show research, initiative and (where appropriate) originality in discussing the sources and their relationship, demonstrating a good knowledge of relevant philological issues. Most issues arising from conflicting readings or illegible passages will be resolved convincingly.
Upper Second Class: B- to B+ (60–9%) The distinguishing quality is the fully satisfactory presentation of a musical text, based on a highly accurate transcription accompanied by a comprehensive critical apparatus and description of the sources. The work will convey a good understanding of the sources and their relationship, comprehensively argued and well presented. The musical text and the critical apparatus contain a limited number of minor/major errors and/or omissions, typically occasional and localised. Work at this grade may contain many of the same qualities which apply First Class work; however, the work may be outstanding in one category, yet deficient in another.
Lower Second Class: C- to C+ (50–9%) The main quality which warrants marks in this category is the adequate presentation of a musical text, based on a complete transcription of the sources accompanied by a competent critical apparatus and description of the sources. Qualities which limit the mark to this level are: flaws in the transcription of the sources and their typesetting/presentation, which are more than occasional and/or not localised; major errors/omissions that indicate lack of comprehension of basic editorial methodologies; shortcomings in the description, comparison and evaluation of the sources; lack of argument or lacunae in the critical apparatus/list and evaluation of variants; omission of variants/errors in the critical commentary.
Third Class: D- to D+ (40–9%) The crucial achievement is demonstration of a basic grasp of technical/notational skills and the rules of source philology. However, the mark will be limited to this level by such things as: frequent shortcomings in the transcription of the musical notation; consistent/frequent flaws in the typesetting and presentation of the musical text; a number of major errors/omissions that indicate lack of comprehension of basic editorial methodologies; failure to properly address the relationship of the sources; inadequately reasoned editorial decisions; inconsistent, incomplete or inadequate description of sources; poorly presented and/or largely incomplete critical apparatus/list of variants.
- Demonstrate an understanding of different editorial methodologies and their conventions and apply them to specific situations
- Demonstrate through description an understanding of the main different types of musical sources created between the 17th and mid-19th centuries
- Identify errors and / or variants within a given piece of music
- Prepare a critical commentary, editorial principles, source description and introduction as appropriate to a modern scholarly edition
- Transcribe (and transliterate) accurately complete compositions or sections of compositions and lay out the music in an appropriate modern score format
1. Transcription: You will be given a source for a short piece or one or more extracts from a longer work (approx. 20 bars). Your task will involve the following components: (1) provide an accurate transcription, modernising as appropriate; (2) outline your editorial conventions; (3) provide a brief but detailed description of the source(s), based on given criteria. 2. Proofreading: You will also be given a short transcription and the source from which it was transcribed: you will be asked to judge its accuracy. Due in on Thursday of teaching week 5.
For the main assignment you will prepare an edition of approx. 80 bars* comprising one or more short pieces (e.g. solo songs), a self-standing short work, or an extract from a longer work (e.g. one or more movements from a multi-movement work or a section from a movement). Your edition will include a very brief introduction explaining what the edition is and placing the work into historical context, source description(s), editorial principles and a critical commentary. You must use a software programme such as Sibelius for the submitted work. You will receive guidance and assistance where necessary in finding sources. You should begin thinking about this project during reading week. Due in on Monday of week 13 (first week of the assessment period).
Task 1: You will be asked to identify errors (typically 4 or 5) in a given extract (usually 6–8 bars) and suggest editorial interventions that would correct them. Task 2: You will be given two sources for a short piece or an extract from a longer work (approx. 20 bars). Your task will involve the following main components: (1) identify a copy-text; (2) provide an accurate transcription; (3) compare all sources for variants, which are then to be listed in a given format (Critical Commentary); (4) provide a brief description of the sources and comment on their relationships. Due in on Thursday of teaching week 9.