New Early Music Typsetting application

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New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby gardano » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:41 pm

Hi folks,

I'm a Mac developer with extensive experience with early music, and am about to embark on a project to create an application to typeset music in the style of Magni, Gardano, and the other early Venetian music publishers. In my past as a baroque violin performer, I found that playing music from facsimile was a much more satisfying and enlightening experience than playing from modern score.

At the same time, sometimes it wasn't possible to comfortably play from a reproduction of the original. The Rost Manuscript comes to mind, which is spoiled with spilled ink, bleed-through of notes, etc.

Years ago, I created for my own purposes a music font that more-or-less echoed what the early venetian publishers put on their pages, but to tell the truth, Finale (1.0, mind you) wasn't really up to the task.

So I figured now would be the time to write an application which properly typesets music that would have been published in the style of the big publishers like Gardano, etc. This includes some music from Italy, France and Germany in the first half of the 17th century.

Is this project something that others would be interested in seeing to its completion? If so, what are the things most important to you in a "fake" facsimile? If you think it's not a good idea, why not? I'd be interested in hearing about those opinions too.

Thanks much!
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby Allan » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:40 am

Is this something that Lilypond can do? ( http://lilypond.org/examples.html )

If not, perhaps you could do an extension for it in place of a starting from scratch.
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby gardano » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:24 am

Lilypond is a very powerful application for music notation, that is for sure.

I've been working on something that's easier to use, both conceptually and in practice. While being able to import MusicXML files, I'm thinking it should strive to do one thing well -- present music in an aesthetically pleasing manner. This presentation should extend to the practicing performer as well as the person sitting behind the [computer's] keyboard.

The person inputting the music will be thought of as a typesetter, with tools to make his life easier, for sure, but a typesetter nonetheless. I believe that the notation programs that I've tried have attempted to split the difference between MIDI person, Notation person, performer person etc etc.

The application I envision would make the adding of notes to a stave to be as fluid as possible, while recognizing that there are limitations to the methods available for input. Think of Signore Gardano or Magni's apprentices. They had lead notation items that they had to coerce onto a grid of staves (to speak in metaphoric terms). Must have been a huge pain, especially when edits inevitably came down the road. This application would be something that would make *their* lives easier.

The demands of, say, Early Italian violin music are both relatively simple yet highly specific mean that the options available for that music's presentation should give a strictly limited set of options, but within that set, be expressive within that context.

It's tough for me to word it without sounding like a programmer (yikes, when did that happen?). But playing the Marini Passacaglio a 4 from modern notation vs the original make all the difference, in my book.

Opinions?
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby sbeckmesser » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:51 am

Since I'm interested in making music of this period MORE accessible to the non-specialist public (i.e. those not initiated into the arcana of early notation), I have misgivings about the whole project as it stands. A far more valuable expenditure of energy would be to develop a system that can produce both early and modern note shapes simultaneously, perhaps with a little touching up after (such as the beaming of multiple short notes in modern notation). We really need somebody to turn say, the Monteverdi or Gesualdo partbooks at IMSLP into modern score notation if only, in Monteverdi's case, to free us from the old Malipiero editions. On the other hand, if it's the beauty of the page you are seeking, nothing can beat a skilled copyist's hand. Take a look at the Bach autographs here, or the kilotons of Graupner in MSS now available (if only Vivaldi or Telemann were receiving such coverage). How's your penmanship?

--Sixtus
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby gardano » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:35 pm

Thanks for the thoughts.

Yeah, I understand the needs of this site are different than the needs of a specific group of performers.

I actually do have some hand copies of individual sonatas of Carlo Farina and other early Italians around somewhere back from the days when I was a performer. I'll dig them out and upload them.

I also need to bone up on what you guys suggest for copyright on, say, Xeroxes I did by my own hand from libraries in Holland and Italy years ago on 17th and 18th century music -- whether or not those are fair game. Oh and whether or not microfilm scans are allowed. But that's another forum...

Best Regards,
Gardano
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby Boccaccio » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:24 pm

Maybe it's not completely the topic of this thread, but I was thinking about making a modern transcription of the Monteverdi or Gesualdo works using Lilypond. However, what so far has kept me away from starting (apart from the constant lack of time, of course) are two facts:

*First of all, one should probably have some template which can be used for the edition. I think it definitely pays out to spend some time on figuring all this out, such that one can later change things easily etc. In particular, this also means that one should try to keep music, text and layout in different files probably.

*Second, I'm a physicist and not an musicologist, so I don't know too much about how to prepare some good critical edition of the works. Maybe someone here in the forum has more expertise on this and can give some input?!?
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby sbeckmesser » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:59 am

A critical edition is not what is needed out of the Monteverdi and Gesualdo partbooks. Just getting them into clean modern score notation would suffice. Not to put you off, but working from the partbooks directly will be tough, due to possible inconsistencies in the partbooks and the vagaries of the notation (accidentals, for one, can be a problem). Other things you might encounter are ambiguities as to which syllable of which word goes to which note, how long rests are, where to put bar lines etc. A knowledge of Italian would be extremely helpful.

A "compromise" approach for setting for the Monteverdi pieces might be easier: Using the Malipiero editions available here as the scaffolding, go through the partbooks looking for where Malipiero might have made transcription mistakes (there will be very few) and, more importantly, REMOVE MALIPIERO'S TOTALLY SPECIOUS DYNAMIC MARKINGS. These, like Longo's in the Scarlatti Sonatas, reflect only the editors conception on how this music should go and aren't in the partbooks. It is these spurious dynamic markings that, more than anything, disqualify both Malipiero's Monteverdi and Longo's Scarlatti from being critical editions, however accurate the rest of the notes may be.) Modern performers of this music should not be misled by these markings and should have enough musicality (and understanding of Italian) to make their own decisions as to dynamics, some of which are almost Wagnerian in Malipiero's edition. It is striking how many of the madrigals end pianissimo in Malipiero's edition, a very affected and "precious" effect if applied with such consistency. Taking all this stuff out will give you a final product that looks like Philip Legge's excellent job on Monteverdi's Book 8. Fortunately with the first 5 books you'll not have to worry about a continuo line.

This compromise approach has the benefit of educating you as to how actually read late-renaissance/early-baroque partbooks. Then you can tackle Gesualdo. Hope this helps. Good luck on a much needed project.

--Sixtus
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Re: New Early Music Typsetting application

Postby Boccaccio » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:34 am

Well, for Madrigal Book 7 I made a transcription from the Malipiero edition some time ago, which is available on the net as well, https://github.com/bjoerns/monteverdi. Furthermore, I already transcribed quite some works from Renaissance/Early Baroque part book, so in principle I know which problems will turn up and how to solve them.

By critical edition I meant basically that all the changes that occur in the transcription process are documented somewhere... so far I did this directly as comments in the lilypond files, where most of the people won't notice them, probably not the best solution. Other questions that came up to me are then how to deal with the language part.... as my Italian is not really good, so far I decided to keep the spelling from the original, even if it differs between different parts (I only wrote out things like % indicating a repetition and short forms that indicate a doubling of letters).

Concerning Gesualdo vs. Monteverdi, I think that actually Gesualdo might be easier to transcribe, because his madrigals exist in a partitura edition so at least all bars from the different parts will fit nicely together.
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