Music Performance Essay

Music Performance Essay-17
When Foucault penned his , he was thinking about literary works, but his insight is equally valid for any of the creative arts for which editions are prepared—literature, drama, or music.The implications of Foucault's observation—and its corollary—are especially intriguing for music, where two sorts of editions, intended for different musical communities, reflect two different concepts of the musical work and two different views of the functions of the musical text.Often, they adapt the works they offer to meet particular conditions.

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Henle and Schott have defined the musicological edition in the decades since World War II.

The earliest revivals of music of the past sought to preserve that music by making it accessible to musicians and audiences of what was then the present.

Unacceptable in this view were the fingerings and bowings, the tempi, dynamics and phrasings that many editors had been accustomed to adding: in short, this new approach called for the elimination of all those aids that non-specialists of the day might have needed in order to have access to the music of earlier times.

This new sort of edition was called "Urtext," a term that musicology borrowed from German philology.

With such an edition, the editorial "value added" lies not in having established an authoritative text but in making it possible for the user of the edition to produce an acceptable performance of the work that the edition represents.

(The two sorts of editions may be compared by viewing Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2.) As distinct and identifiable sorts of editions, historicizing and enabling editions are relatively modern innovations: they date back to the latter part of the nineteenth century, and reflect the differing approaches to music of the past that had been developing for the preceding century and a half.

Works written for large orchestras may be cross-cued or transcribed for smaller ensembles.

Difficult works may be simplified to bring them within the capability of the performers for whom the edition is intended.

On the other hand, there are what may be called "enabling" editions, editions that are prepared expressly for the purpose of facilitating the performance of musical works.

These editions provide the technical guidance (fingerings, bowings, breathing indications) and interpretive suggestions (tempi, dynamics, ornamentation) that will enable performers to perform works effectively.


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