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Underscore - The AR Blog

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Why House Style Matters

Friday, November 13, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Pamela Whitcomb

Most publishers have a house style—a set of rules and guidelines defining the publisher’s preferences for spelling, punctuation, numbers, dates, abbreviations, bibliographic citations, and so on. A house style usually starts with a commonly accepted, publicly available style guide and a dictionary. The publisher’s house style adds an additional layer of rules for situations in which more than one option is acceptable in the style guide or dictionary or when specialized contexts require more specific guidelines. For music publishers, the house style will also include a set of rules for notational elements. But why all the fuss about these niggling little rules? Why not just let the author’s choices stand?

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Comments | Posted in Insider Information By A-R Editions

Reconstructing Lost Voices in the Age of COVID

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Loren Ludwig

Donald Rumsfeld once opined that it was the “unknown unknowns”—the stuff you don’t know that you don’t know—that make foreign policy so difficult. A similar problem confronts those fascinated by lacunae in Renaissance and baroque polyphonic music—compositions for which one or more polyphonic parts have been lost to the ravages of history. To those seeking to reconstruct missing parts, and thereby render incomplete pieces playable, a primary challenge is figuring out what, exactly, is unknown. Much can be inferred from surviving voices, particularly if the primary structural voices (often including the cantus and tenor) survive. In this current age of COVID-19, several recent online initiatives have appeared that invite musicians to reconstruct missing polyphonic voices of early works—an activity that seems perfect for the legions of performers and music scholars now sheltering in place indoors with no access to physical library collections.

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1 Comments | Posted in Editing Challenges By A-R Editions

An Enlightenment Science Fiction Opera: Niccolò Piccinni’s Il regno della Luna

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Lawrence Mays

My Ph.D. dissertation was originally going to be about “exotic operas,” particularly those with allegorical Moon settings and those set in fantastical Amazon realms. While researching the topic, I read of a 1770 dramma giocoso by Niccolò Piccinni (1728–1800) titled Il regno della Luna. In contrast to the majority of “Moon operas”—which are really set on Earth—this work involves five Earth people actually traveling, in an unspecified future epoch, to the Moon, where they encounter a society radically different from that of late eighteenth-century Europe. They find a kingdom in which women have complete political power and may terminate marriage as they wish, and where relations between the sexes are flexible, with polygamy being condoned. Here was an exotic opera which aligned with my interests both in Moon settings and in societies dominated by women. Intrigued, I embarked on the preparation of a critical edition with exegesis, which became the focus of my dissertation and eventually the basis for an edition in the Recent Researches series.

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In Praise of Performance Parts

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By David C. Birchler

Performance parts are often overlooked or placed last in a list of sources. It is understandable that an extant autograph score is considered to be the primary source for a symphony, concerto, mass, or opera; or that a copyist’s score or published score, particularly one prepared under the composer’s supervision, would be chosen as primary source if the autograph is lost or presents an earlier or indeed superseded version of the work. But parts have a strength of their own in that they are specifically tailored to meeting the needs of individual players for the realization of the work in performance. Taking careful account of available source parts as you are preparing your edition will often provide details of notation that are only implied in the source score and make your job that much easier.

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Comments | Posted in Editor's Workbench By A-R Editions

Michele Pesenti: Between Frottola and Madrigal

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM America/Chicago

By Anthony M. Cummings

The thesis implied in the well-known phrase “from frottola to madrigal” has long been contested: Frottole and madrigals were different genres, with fundamentally different stylistic characteristics; they were cultivated by different composers, at different times in history, and in different centers of musical patronage and activity. But the profile of one composer, Don Michele Pesenti da Verona (ca. 1470–1528), complicates our current understanding. Unlike the vast majority of his fellow frottolists, Pesenti composed both frottole and madrigal-like compositions. He stood at a moment of transition between genres, and his career and creative output illuminate the complex dynamics of the moment. Along with my two distinguished co-editors, I am pleased to be able to present Pesenti’s complete surviving oeuvre in modern edition for the first time.

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