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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Music

Postgraduate Course: Notation and Editing of Early Music (MUSI11073)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will focus on editing works from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, furnishing students with the skills to approach musical sources from this time as primary sources, on their own terms. Students will focus on the transcription and editing of repertoire from this period (using sources such as the Alamire manuscripts, Burgundian chansonniers, and central fifteenth-century sources such as the Trent Codices): this will provide students with a practical skill which can be applied to repertoire from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries, and introduce them to the issues and challenges facing editors of late medieval and Renaissance music.
Course description Western Art music has maintained something of a consensus around ways of notating sound for several centuries. Nonetheless, before this time, we see a plethora of different traditions which speak to the diversity of practice within the vibrant musical cultures of the late medieval and early Renaissance periods. The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries can be regarded as a period of relative stability in notational practice but still present challenges that require specialist training to read, understand, and perform. It is on this period that the course will focus, furnishing students with the skills to approach musical sources from this time as primary sources, on their own terms.

Students will focus on the transcription and editing of white mensural notation - the central notational form of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They will consider a wide variety of European sources from this period, gaining practical skills which can be applied to a broad repertoire. Topics covered will include: transcribing and editing tempus imperfectum, tempus perfectum, and more complex mensural schemes; understanding coloration and ligatures; texting practices; understanding the grammar of early music; and source studies and codicology.

Students will be assessed through two coursework assignments, consisting of 1) an edition of a piece in tempus imperfectum with a written prose component consisting of an editorial commentary (providing a technical description of editorial method, and outlining any editorial interventions) and a critical commentary (situating the edition within the broader historical and cultural context) and 2) an edition of a piece in tempus perfectum and/or more complex mensurations (with more than one source) with significant editorial and critical commentary.

This course is taught through lectures and tutorials - most of these are shared with a level 10 version of the course. Postgraduate students will receive an additional 2-hour lecture which will prepare them for critically evaluating the differences between different sources of the same piece. There is no requirement for students to have any prior familiarity with notation of this period.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Transcribe white mensural notation accurately
  2. Appropriately identify notational problems and solve them independently
  3. Make necessary editorial interventions in the correction of scribal errors
  4. Provide an appropriate critical and editorial commentary to an edition
  5. Balance the range of possibilities offered by two or more different sources of the same work
Reading List
Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1949)
John Caldwell, Editing Early Music (Oxford, 1995)
James Grier, The Critical Editing of Music (Cambridge, 1996)
Carl Parrish, The Notation of Medieval Music (London, 1958)
Richard Rastall, The Notation of Western Music: An Introduction 2nd Rev. Ed. (London, 2008)
Margaret Bent, 'The Grammar of Early Music: Preconditions for Analysis' in ed. Cristle Colins Judd, Tonal Structures in Early Music (New York: Garland, 1998), pp. 15-59. (Paperback reprint, 2000)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical and analytical skills
Ability to produce notated music to a professional level
Ability to understand how early music is constructed
Ability to read mensural notation fluently
Ability to research the historical and cultural background of sources
Ability to use sources as historical evidence
Ability to compare critically different sources of the same work
KeywordsEarly Music,Notation,Editing,Transcription,Medieval,Renaissance
Course organiserDr James Cook
Tel: (0131 6)50 2432
Course secretaryDr Ellen Jeffrey
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