Notation and Editing 2024-25
School of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
The module will also explore the fundamentals of preparing music for publication, as well as for study and performance. It deals with instrumental and vocal music, and offers a comprehensive introduction to transcribing, editing and preparing musical texts for performance and study, as well as developing key skills in problem-solving. The module will develop students’ understanding of how to edit music and present editions to a publishable standard. The module draws upon professional experience of staff to equip students’ with key transferrable skills applicable in professional life. Students will be assessed through assignments that focus on music editions and their wider applications.
There are no pre-requisites for this module, aside from being able to read music and having intellectual curiosity.
This module is centred on developing students’ practical skills in producing a musical text to professional publication standard. Editing music and preparing scores / parts is a vital skill that feeds into all aspects of music-making; this is true whether dealing with music of the past or the present. The musical text contributes to and helps to shape our engagement with the music we read about, perform and hear. The score should reflect accurately the composer’s intentions (so far as we can know them) and it also must function as a text for performers who in turn communicate to audiences (live and through recordings). Editing makes repertoires accessible to audiences and scholars alike. This is never truer than today with the rise of digital databases such as IMSLP and the proliferation of digital libraries making original sources accessible to everyone. Being able to prepare an accurate musical text is also an important part of communicating repertoires in which notation is not generally part of the compositional process: for example, the sheet music transcriptions of popular music.
Students taking the module will learn how to transcribe and edit a variety of music, vocal and instrumental, from reproductions of original sources. Students will also learn how to present musical texts to publication standard according to modern conventions and practices, including what is involved in publication processes for musical texts in print and digitally. The module will also look at editing within the digital humanities and concepts of sustainability. It will also examine in detail the conventions around music notation. As such this module intersects with composition, musicology and performance and provides important and highly transferrable skills and tools that will be applicable in your wider studies and beyond the classroom. It will also explore aspects such as copyright, performing rights, and routes for publication.
Additional tutorials in using Sibelius and other music processing software will be provided if required.
The module is 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.
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.
- Analyse modern conventions of music notation and apply them to work that meets modern publication standards
- Apply advanced critical thinking and enquiry to solving unfamiliar editorial and philological challenges
- Assess critically different types of musical sources
- Identify errors and variants within a given piece of music and apply methodologies to resolve them
Coursework 1 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.
Coursework 2 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.
For the main assignment you will typically prepare an edition of approx. 80 bars (depending on the level of complexity) 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.