Editing Mensural Music for Modern Performers — Seconda Prat!ca — Medium

This article makes a lot of good points.  I think about doing some of the things they recommend that the current SerpentPublications.org transcriptions don’t do.  I don’t think I’d have even as many people to play with as I do now if I kept the original clefs.  I’ve had trouble with the lilypond spacing when I’ve tried to go to the original note shapes, but I could work harder.  And certainly I should do more work on transcribing the mensuration symbols better.  And I’ve been pretty lazy about  putting brackets in for the ligatures, which isn’t hard at all.

Editing Mensural Music for Modern Performers

Source: Editing Mensural Music for Modern Performers — Seconda Prat!ca — Medium

Why and how to transcribe Renaissance music

[Petrucci, Odhecaton]

This article
by Luigi Lera
about how to transcribe early polyphonic music makes a lot of very
good points. Some of them are from a (to me) odd point of view,
for instance:

Our amateur choristers often do not shy away even from the St Gallen neumes of Gregorian chants or the obscurity of some twentieth-century writing. Is Renaissance notation really so different from ours as to justify transliteration into another system?

I don’t know those amateur choristers who read neumes or
obscure twentieth-century writing. And my impression is that the
motivation for putting barlines in where the composer didn’t is
different from what Mr. Lera states when he says:

In polyphonic arrangements, you often find a sort of
subtle premise where the editor has distanced himself from the
measures that he himself has used, trying to push all the
responsibility for any poor outcome onto the singers; it clearly
states that the bars had been added only to aid the singers and
that it really must not influence the rhythm of the piece. Aiding
the singers: could this be a good justification in support of all
the transcriptions into bars?

I don’t think editors add bars to directly aid the singers —
they add them so that conductors can aid the singers.

But a lot of what he says is exactly why I do what I do on the Serpent Publications
so I recommend you read it if you’re at all interested
in the subject.

A why not to use Microsoft Word link

One of the most popular posts on this blog is Why not to
use AOL
, which explains in detail why you don’t want to use
AOL to deliver your email. The answer is that they don’t actually
care whether they deliver your email or not.

Before posting that, I did an extensive google search and
couldn’t find anything that explained the issue on that level of
detail, although there was of course an assumption in the
technically literate community that using AOL was a bad idea.

There are a lot of people in the technically literate
publishing community who assume something similar, but they seem
not to have actually managed to carry their point of view, because
lots of publishing opportunities which might otherwise be useful
(smashwords for
instance) require or encourage putting your material into Word format.

So I was glad to see a post by a good
entitled Why
Microsoft Word must Die
. (I don’t actually like much of what
I’ve read by Charlie Stross, but he’s certainly an effective
writer, and lots of people do like what he wants to write.)

His post is a bit long, but does make a number of the right
arguments very cogently.

For instance, here’s how he explains the problems the
planned obsolescence model causes even for people who never use
Word themselves:

But as Word’s domination became established, Microsoft changed the file format repeatedly — with Word 95, Word 97, in 2000, and again in 2003 and more recently. Each new version of Word defaulted to writing a new format of file which could not be parsed by older copies of the program. If you had to exchange documents with anyone else, you could try to get them to send and receive RTF — but for the most part casual business users never really got the hang of different file formats in the “Save As …” dialog, and so if you needed to work with others you had to pay the Microsoft Danegeld on a regular basis, even if none of the new features were any use to you.

I don’t have much hope for the people who have no idea
how to use the “Save As…” dialog, but maybe the people who are
establishing publishing businesses will read this article and
think about their system.


Somebody told me about partifi
a year or two ago. It takes a PDF file with a musical score in
it, and turns the score into parts. Even if your religion doesn’t
forbid you to play Renaissance music from scores, you must have
run into a score with a page turn every 5 seconds that drove you
nuts, so this sounds like a really good idea.

At the time I heard of it, I went there and tried something and
the first thing I tried wasn’t immediately useful, so while I’ve
passed the word on to several people who were complaining about
page turns, I haven’t actually used it for anything.

But yesterday a music transcribing friend sent me a PDF of some
three part madrigals he’s been working on. He leaves out the
barlines, but puts the parts into score, so I thought about asking
him to send me the source or MIDI so that I could do parts, but
then I remembered Partifi.

I fed it three PDF’s, and the first two went very smoothly. It
guessed quite well at where on the page to split out the parts. I
told it the names of the parts and it produced three part files
for me.

The third one had to be set with the lines much closer together
in order to fit the whole piece on two pages. So partifi’s guess
about how to split the parts was much less useful, and even when I
figured out how to edit the guess, I still ended up with parts
missing words. I think I have an idea of how to fix this, but I
wanted to get the post done before fiddling with it any more.

You’ll have to read my other blogs again

I really find on Wednesday that if I fix all the problems with the music
that the Cantabile Band
played the previous night, and get it uploaded, and maybe blog
about it on the Serpent
Publications blog
, I don’t really have the time or energy to
write a completely unrelated post for the 59th year
blogging experiment.
So the way I did a week or so
I’m just going to point you at the writing I’ve
already done. Even if you aren’t interested in the Renaissance
music, read the Chidiock_Tichborne

So here’s the report on last
night’s meeting
, and the description
of the pieces I uploaded this morning.

What I should be doing on the new site

I started the laymusic.org site before there
was such a thing as a Content Management System for a website. I
thought I was being pretty sophisticated by having it database

would indeed not be up yet if I hadn’t done that, but there’s
still a lot of stuff about the books and about why I do what I do
that’s in basic html at laymusic.org, and should be moved into wordpress.

I didn’t expect it to be that hard, because I’m using the raw-html
plugin for wordpress. So I was thinking that all I had to do was
to put two html comments around my html and put it in as a
wordpress post.

This is true as far as it goes, but consider the following

Links within the html
The content of the link has to be moved to the new site, and
the link has to be updated. This is easy enough on a one-by-one
basis, but doing thirty of them at once is a pain. I think I’m
not putting most of the pictures into the WordPress media
library; it’s just too much easier to copy them to a directory
and link to them there.
Links to the page
Until you’ve put the page into wordpress, you don’t know
what the link is going to be, and you don’t want to change any
links until you’ve published the new page. This means you have
to start at the bottom of the tree, and the set of links-to
relationships between my html pages is not a simple tree graph.
Redirect the page on the old site to the one on the new
A lot of people link to the old site, and I haven’t yet
gotten around to telling them all to change it, and when I do,
they’ll take their time about changing their links, at least if
they’re anything like me. So I want to keep the pages on the
old site, but have them redirect to the new site. This is
another thing I can’t do until I’ve published the page on the
new site, but want to do right afterward, since I’m doing a fair
amount of improving things as I move them, so I don’t want
people reading the old, inferior stuff when they could be
reading the new, improved stuff.

On a cheerful note, the new site is as much easier to make
additions to as I hoped it would be. On the old site, I would
spend a morning doing the additions after I’d made several of
them, but with the new site, I just do a “make upload” when I’ve
proofread a piece and think it isn’t too embarrassing.

Lilypond vs. Petrucci, round 3

After my last
on the subject of trying to get Petrucci-like spacing out
of lilypond, someone came up with a conceptually simpler way to
get equal spacing — just tell lily to treat all the notes as if
they were quarter notes. It isn’t automated yet. For each note,
you have to tell both the value to print and the fraction of the
note value to use for
spacing, and you effectively have to put the line breaks in by hand, but it really does look a lot more the way Petrucci did
it, and less like a nineteenth century engraver who thought a
breve was a large note value instead of a short one.

So here’s what the tenor part looks like now:

[lilypond equal-spaced output]

And to remind you, here’s the facsimile:

[petrucci's version]

Some pages are now being redirected

I have the new site up at serpentpublications.org.
Since I will no longer be maintaining the music portion of this
site, I am now redirecting the automatically generated pages to
the equivalent pages on the new site.

I’ll deal with the written pages as I get to them.

In general, the new central place for information about all the
pieces I’ve published is the
new By Composer Page.
Let me know what you think of it.

New Serpent Publications Website

It’s been a busy week, but the new Serpent Publications website is starting to be
ready for friendly eyes.

There’s still a lot of page content to be written or
transferred from the old site, and I’ll be tinkering with the look
of the pages and fixing up broken links and such in the
database, but the music is all there and can be accessed from the By Composer page.

The piece that’s a test for the new piece pages with previews
It needs some editing; someone asked for it and it was a mess, and I got it converted to current lilypond, but haven’t finished fixing the underlay.

It’s conceivable that I’ll even be ready to go live to the
world at large by Wednesday.

More about what I’ve been doing later, but let me know what you