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Re: [Gnu-music-discuss] Re: Tie issues...

From: Werner Icking
Subject: Re: [Gnu-music-discuss] Re: Tie issues...
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 10:55:27 +0200 (MET DST)

> Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 12:06:01 -0400
> From: David Raleigh Arnold <address@hidden>

> Bach used a flat sign, not a natural, to change a fis to f. Do you want
> to go back to that?

I've never seen that, although I read a lot of manuscripts by Bach.
I've seen that he used a g-sharp instead of g-double-sharp if
g-sharp is already in the key-signature, but not using flat
instead of natural. [Sometimes esp. with bad copies it is not easy 
in his handwriting to see whether it is a sharp, a natural or a

Have a look at the manuscript
or at my Urtext edition which is easier to read:
In the fifth staff there is e.g. an f-sharp followed by an f-natural,
same as our modern notation. And Bach used this notation all over
the Sonatas & Partitas (and all over the Cello suites and all over
Kunst der Fuge, ...)

In bar 18 - that's the beginning of line 9 - the last note is an f-sharp. 
The first note of bar 19 is notated as f although it is to be played as 
f-sharp. The 4th note in this bar 19 is notated as f-sharp. At the end of 
bar 18 you can see too, that Bach (and most other baroque composers) used
a natural to revoke a previous flat or sharp only, if it seemed to be
neccessary. The a is to be played as a although there is no natural
revoking the a-flat four notes earlier. The opposite can be found
in bar 12/13 - that's staff 6. The a-flat of bar 12(a) is revoked
in bar 13 although there is a bar line inbetween. In the same way they
repeated sharps or flats within a bar normally, but only if it seemed 
to be neccessary. They knew where it was neccessary to repeat or
not repeat an accidental, where to revoke or not to revoke a
previous accidental. This was possible, because they wrote
the music for users with musical knowledge. Therefore I like
to play from my Urtext edition :-)

This usage is accompanied by repeating accidentals in the key
signature. You can see it in
which is Bach's notation for E-major: six sharps, F and G-sharp repeated,
because they lay within the staff.

In notation of some modern compositions it's sometimes stated that
accidentals belong only to that note they preceed. Because such
music does not have a key-signature naturals are never used.
Imho a good musictypesetter should have a switch to support this
notation, too. Nevertheless in such music an accidental is not
repeated for notes tied over a bar line.

The greatest mistake in this context is IMHO that some readers seem 
to believe that accidentals within a bar do not belong only to
the note they preceed but to all octaves. So editors revoke accidentals
never written. Again Bach's handwriting shows that this problem is solved
by Bach depending on the context.

And most errors in my edition were where I forgot to set or to revoke an
accidental where nobody missed it, although modern notation required it.
And if you consider that a "superfloous" sharp can be misread as natural
and that a "superfloous" natural can be misread as sharp, then you can
imagine, that modern usage may be logical but that it makes not always 
playing easier or less confusing. I state this as a musician, not
as mathematician or programmer who have different definition of "confusion".

-- Werner

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