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AW: The Bach Choral Dilemma

Mr. Toth:

The role of sheet music has traditionally been that of conveying
authoritative performance instructors to contemporary performers.  As such,
it as complete as the contemporary performance practice demands.  Baroque
notation may appear almost empty of instructions to performers specializing
in late romantic repertoire, while Jazz notation seems equally empty to
classical musicians who are not familiar with the notational conventions
associated with the style. A documentary or conservation function of music
notation is a relatively recent notion, associated with both the rise of
historical musicology, with modern intellectual property law, and with a
contemporary musical repertoire not based upon a stable set of performing

There is an observation, known as "Winslow's Law" (after Richard K. Winslow,
long-time Professor of Music at Wesleyan University), that holds that "if
you wish a composition to be repeated as precisely as possible, communicate
it in aurally; but if you wish for it to change over time, write it down."

Daniel Wolf

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: AUDITORY Research in Auditory Perception
[mailto:AUDITORY@LISTS.MCGILL.CA]Im Auftrag von Tóth László
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 30. Januar 2003 09:46
Betreff: Re: The Bach Choral Dilemma

On Wed, 29 Jan 2003, Leon van Noorden wrote:

> Why is the player not allowed to pause for each bass note?
> Why do you believe in one god in the era of scientific polytheism?
I suppose the main goal of music sheets is to preserve music for the
next generations (at least, surely this was before the invention
of sound recording). If this is true, then the notation should be
as unambiguous as possible. If the baroque notation allows for such huge
differences in performance, then it's surely failed this this goal.

               Laszlo Toth
        Hungarian Academy of Sciences         *
  Research Group on Artificial Intelligence   *   "Failure only begins
     e-mail: tothl@inf.u-szeged.hu            *    when you stop trying"
     http://www.inf.u-szeged.hu/~tothl        *