Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

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John Ruggero
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by John Ruggero »

Regarding editorial clef changes: they can be done well and in tune with the composer's thinking, or badly and distort the musical picture.

Here is an example that I found in about a minute in Bach's Goldberg Variations. Fine composers try to place their clef changes in musically logical places, often at the beginning of a phrase or motive. In the present case, Bach avoided ledger lines and showed that the final five notes constitute a motive by placing the clef change where he did in the first edition:
Goldberg Var 1 1st ed..png
Goldberg Var 1 1st ed..png (550.06 KiB) Viewed 171 times
Despite the fact that no modernization was necessary, the editor of the NBA "silently" moved the bass clef over two notes, probably because it was easier to engrave:
Goldberg Var 1 NBA.png
Goldberg Var 1 NBA.png (51.9 KiB) Viewed 171 times
The clef is now in the middle of the motive, which makes the correct interpretation more rather than less difficult for the performer.
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NeeraWM
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by NeeraWM »

benwiggy wrote: 08 Jun 2024, 08:10 Yes, you're absolutely right - a spelling mistake on my part. They are also know as chiavette. It's a 16th/17th-century notation, in which clefs are used to display the notes at a higher pitch than usual. Counter-intuitively, this usually indicates downward transposition.
That's very much out of my area of expertise or knowledge and I have never heard of those "chiavette" (literally small keys, but with a pampering tone to it. Just "small" would be "chiavine"!). Anywhere I could learn more about them? Some suggested reading?
benwiggy wrote: 08 Jun 2024, 08:10 It's usual practice that any accidentals added should be marked as editorial. That's perhaps less important for a 19th-century work, however.
I'm trying to find a good balance. If I put too many brackets, performers will complain about clutter (I certainly would).
For now, I'm going through the score and parts again and putting comments over each accidental that is not to be found in the source.
Then I will decide what to do. This doesn't want to be an Urtext, also because there are two editions from 1855 & 1870, both riddled with inconsistencies, and there is no manuscript.

Would writing "Accidentals missing in the source and added by the editor" only in square brackets be a bad approach?
Should they be "ficta" as well? Quite hard to do in a piano part if it is a chord where one note is missing the sharp, for example.
NeeraWM
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by NeeraWM »

John Ruggero wrote: 08 Jun 2024, 12:17 Despite the fact that no modernization was necessary, the editor of the NBA "silently" moved the bass clef over two notes, probably because it was easier to engrave:
The clef is now in the middle of the motive, which makes the correct interpretation more rather than less difficult for the performer.
The NBA choice was certainly easier to engrave, but also the note spacing in the source would not look good in modern printing.
There are so many things that look more expressive in handwriting but that would be unacceptable in modern engraving.
Honestly, had this been done in Dorico, achieving good spacing with the original clef change would have not been too hard, while it would have been a bloody mess with Sibelius.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by John Ruggero »

I agree that the engraving of this measure in the first edition is not attractive; but, in my opinion, Bach's meaning here must be upheld at all costs, particularly because the centered beam in the previous measure that shows the same phrasing is impossible to preserve. My version:
Goldberg Var 1.png
Goldberg Var 1.png (174.14 KiB) Viewed 141 times
I think the following solutions to be found in Peters and Henle are also preferable to that of the BGA editor:
Goldberg Var 1 Peters.png
Goldberg Var 1 Peters.png (56.5 KiB) Viewed 137 times
Goldberg Var 1 Henle.png
Goldberg Var 1 Henle.png (51 KiB) Viewed 137 times

The Henle solution goes way back to the first part of the 19th century.
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benwiggy
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by benwiggy »

NeeraWM wrote: 08 Jun 2024, 17:42 Anywhere I could learn more about them? Some suggested reading?
You'll find them mentioned in most discussions of Palestrina, Victoria; and particularly about the Magnificat and Lauda Jerusalem in the Monteverdi Vespers, where there are huge arguments about whether he was still bound by the traditional meaning, or whether he was breaking new ground.
harpsi
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Re: Treatment of cautionary accidentals in modern critical edition

Post by harpsi »

NeeraWM wrote: 08 Jun 2024, 17:42 Would writing "Accidentals missing in the source and added by the editor" only in square brackets be a bad approach?
Should they be "ficta" as well? Quite hard to do in a piano part if it is a chord where one note is missing the sharp, for example.
If the accidental is obvious, I add it and mention it in the commentary.
If the accidental is not obvious (or ficta), i.e. could work with/without, I will make an informed choice and mention it in the commentary.

I might consider using brackets for a speculative ficta, but in the other cases, no.

Cautionaries I just let the program add uncommented, except in cases where it coincides with any of the cases above. And sometimes I add cautionaries that are in the source (but not added automatically by the program).
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