May 31, 2023
By A-R Editions
Patrick Wall is the owner and CEO of A-R Editions. As one of the biggest supporters of our passion for bringing historical music to modern performers and audiences, Pat works tirelessly to keep all of A-R’s departments productive and (perhaps most importantly) solvent. He spoke with us about what that means to him.
By A-R Editions
The coronation service for King Charles III and Queen Camilla on 6 May 2023 was filled with music. We at A-R Editions are proud to report that this magnificently varied program included one piece from our own catalog: the opening chorus of “The King Shall Rejoice,” composed by William Boyce (1711–79) and edited by John R. Van Nice in our volume Two Anthems for the Georgian Court, Part 2 (B008, 1970).
April 26, 2023
By Allan W. Atlas
It was in or around 1990 that I met Wilkie Collins (1824–89) for the first time, our introduction courtesy of the phenomenally popular Woman in White (1860). Looking back, I can say that my initial experience with that novel echoed that of the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer (and later four-term prime minister) William Ewart Gladstone (1809–96), who, while reading the work at home one evening, became so engrossed in it that he forgot to keep an appointment at the theater. I, too, could not put down The Woman in White. And though I could not have possibly realized it at the time, it was that meeting that marked the genesis of A Wilkie Collins Songbook.
By Esther Criscuola de Laix
The phrase musica ficta (literally, “fictitious music,” “false music”) comes up in almost every critical edition of medieval or renaissance music ever published. Originally, the term referred to notes that did not fit within the hexachordal system devised by Guido d’Arezzo in the eleventh century and used as the standard music-theoretical system in Western Europe for almost six centuries following. However, when editors of medieval and early modern music use this term, it is specifically to refer to the means and practices of translating into notation the altered pitches that were not expressly notated in written music—the ones early performers would have applied on their own initiative, but which might not automatically occur to modern performers. This article provides a summary of A-R’s house style and recommended practices for notating musica ficta.
March 15, 2023
By Alex Widstrand
In previous UnderScore posts we have dealt with the broad topic of accidentals, both in terms of tailoring the policy governing accidental usage to the needs of a particular source and more generally how to balance form and function in accidental application. This third installment focuses on cautionary (or “courtesy”) accidentals: those pitch inflections not strictly necessary by standard notation conventions, but that are nonetheless useful in dispelling ambiguity. Since the question of what is or is not musically ambiguous is quite subjective, this post, while by no means exhaustive, offers broad guidance on best practices for deploying cautionary accidentals in a critical edition.
November 16, 2022
By Natasha Roule
Paris, December 2015. I had come in search of opera. I had hoped to unearth reams of scores copied for provincial music academies, ideally complete with performance annotations and musicians’ cues. Instead, I stumbled across La chute de Phaéton, comédie en musique—a slender, unassuming livret by a playwright I had never heard of named Marc-Antoine Legrand. As I leafed through its pages, I couldn’t stop grinning. A spunky cast of hammy singers, foppish patrons, coy lovers, and no-nonsense officials sprang to life, mimicking the elegant verse of Lully’s tragédie en musique Phaéton (1683) with a humor that matched the dry wit of Oscar Wilde and the slapstick comedy of The Three Stooges. Lully’s opera told the story of the rise and demise of an arrogant demigod, cautioning spectators on the dangerous consequences of misplaced ambition and pride. Instead of a proud demigod, it is the opera company of Lyon—crippled by a history of poor financial decisions and personalities who do not care to truly set things right—that is the star of Legrand’s work.
October 31, 2022
The A-R editorial team will soon depart for New Orleans and the 2022 Joint Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, and Society of Music Theory. While information for prospective authors can be found on our website, we all know that ideas are sparked and developed in conversation, and we look forward to having many inspiring discussions in NOLA. See you soon!
By Cory M. Gavito
The three guitar song anthologies collected by Giovanni Stefani (fl. 1618–26) open us to a world in which musical performance and music editing collide in ways that reveal much about the circulation of music in the early seventeenth century. As materials that served performers, Stefani’s anthologies carry the imprint of oral transmission; they not only document the textual circulation of the popular songs they contain but also record the performing practices and traditions of the numerous musicians who consulted them. In editing these anthologies, I was tasked with the challenge of offering a transparent and authoritative report of concordances while still acknowledging the openness, variability, orality, and anonymity that characterizes the transmission of these songs to (and from) Stefani’s books.
September 07, 2022
By Alan Green
This year we celebrate the centennial year of American composer Allen Sapp (1922–99). I first heard Sapp’s music when I came to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) for my undergraduate studies. His Third Piano Sonata was performed at a faculty composer recital in 1985, and on first listening, it made a very powerful impression on me. I decided to take the time to study it carefully. This first took the form of repeated listening, as I had made a tape recording of the recital from a broadcast of the recital on the local NPR radio station, WGUC. The performance was preceded by an interview with the composer, speaking about the work, and his reasons for writing it. Piano Sonatas II, III, and IV were all written in 1956–57 while Sapp was on sabbatical leave from Harvard, living in Rome. A few excerpts from this interview will give you an idea of why I became interested in studying Sapp’s music.
August 10, 2022
By Alexander Dean
A “critical” edition is concerned with faithfulness to a source, and its authenticity, along with the probity of the editors involved, is bound to an understanding that the source material has been adequately and conscientiously accounted for. But any source will present elements that fall into a gray area, not at once sliding into their place in even the most carefully constructed pre-transcription editorial methodology. Prime among these are layout-specific elements: those numbers, directives, and graphical notations that serve in manuscripts and early music prints to guide readers and performers safely from one page to the next. Since, in the translation to a modern edition, the layout will necessarily change, one might be tempted to dismiss any such marking out of hand, along with the source page numbers and other obvious candidates for tacit removal. While this is not a bad rule of thumb, at least to start out, each type of notation will need to be evaluated on its own.