By Shawn Marie Keener

The title of each piece in an edition should usually reflect that given in the source. While that may mean a heading in large lettering at the top of a score (see figure 1), source-based titles can also be teased from less obvious places, such as an index or table of contents (see figure 2). Failing that, titles may be devised by the editor from the musical works themselves. For texted vocal pieces, text incipits may serve as titles. For instrumental works, descriptive titles based on form or genre and key might be appropriate, depending on the period and context.

Figure 1. Source: SLUB Dresden. Featured in Jan Dismas Zelenka, Six Settings of “Ave regina coelorum” (ZWV 128), edited by Frederic Kiernan, RRMBE forthcoming.
Figure 1

Figure 2. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France. Featured in Pierre Gillier, Livre d’airs et de symphonies meslés de quelques fragmens d’opéra (1697), edited by Kathleen Gerrard, RRMBE 199.
Figure 2

Editors should carefully consider how—and whether—to modernize or standardize elements of the titles. For clarify and consistency, it might be desirable in certain cases to regularize spelling or format among similar titles. The editorial method should indicate the source of the titles and whether any changes were made to modernize or regularize what’s found in the original source(s).

For the complete Recent Researches in Music Style Guide, click here (PDF).

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 Shawn Marie Keener is a house editor with A-R Editions.