Musical notation is a powerful system of communication between musicians, using sophisticated symbolic, primarily non-verbal means to express musical events in visual symbols. Many musicians take the system for granted, having internalized it and their strategies for reading it and translating it into sound over long years of study and practice. This book traces the development of that system by combining chronological and thematic approaches to show the historical and musical context in which these developments took place. Simultaneously, the book considers the way in which this symbolic language communicates to those literate in it, discussing how its features facilitate or hinder fluent comprehension in the real-time environment of performance. Moreover, the topic of musical as opposed to notational innovation forms another thread of the treatment, as the author investigates instances where musical developments stimulated notational attributes, or notational innovations made practicable advances in musical style.
List of figures; List of tables; List of musical examples; Preface; 1. Introduction: musical notation as a symbolic language; 2. Plainsong and the origins of musical notation in the west; 3. Polyphony and rhythmic notation; 4. The transition to the modern era: instrumental music and performing indications; 5. Notational nuance in the twentieth century, and the motives for notational innovation; Bibliography.
James Grier is Professor of Music History at the University of Western Ontario and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has written The Critical Editing of Music (Cambridge, 1996; Spanish translation 2008), and three books on the music of Adémar de Chabannes, eleventh-century Aquitanian monk.
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