Textual Scholarship.

Musicologists are those who take our past music history of great works, musicians, composers, and archives, and dig deeper into theories and procedures by making connections to our present, creating new narratives as well was contributing their own personal perspective and interpretation.  Due to my personal connection to classical composers’ music having worked closely with their pieces, I find that the notation was altered to fit the changing music demands of new musicians. The field of textual scholarship is such a vast topic that it allows much discussion and debate among musicologists since many artists today have reworked textual content and imprinted their own ideas and concepts into these newly notated pieces. The article about textual scholarship talks about deciphering different forms of old texts such as manuscripts, books, music, or documents, as well as the development of printing, or binding these works.[1]

The article by Vincent Duckles talks about how musicologists throughout the 21st century researched the origins of music notation and their process to improve the notation and provide new revised editions to selected works. As a musician myself, I could relate to Duckles statements of keeping true to traditional roots. When finding an edition to use we tend to seek out the ones with the most original content, as we want to feel a connection to the composers and stay true to their idea of how they would have wanted to play it. For example, to me, J.S. Bach is one of the most iconic composers, whose works present little notation for the musician to work from, yet there are bowings and dynamics that help to guide the phrasing of the piece. There is a lot of room for artistic interpretation but in the eyes of a musicologist, you see the music in a different light. Therefore, musicians have relied on information passed down to them from their teachers, who most likely received their knowledge from their preceding teachers.

Through there are many studies in this discipline, manuscript studies, editing, and ‘Urtext’ are ones I find be the most discussed.[2] Before programs such as “Sibelius” were invented, composers would write their music out by hand. Musicologists in the 20th century such as Aubrey and Beck[3] have spent time trying to piece together markings from their original content and create more legible and revised copies. Musicians tend to look at mainly the surface of knowledge in their music, bowings, phrasing, articulations, while musicologists research further into those fundamental techniques given and ask more questions related to what is appropriate to revise and how to go about this, or is it better to give something that is of original content but more challenging to decipher. As for ‘Urtext’, this connects to the understanding of editing, as the ‘Urtext’ presents the most original material found, yet with some subjective additions to who made the editorial changes. Since we all have our own perspective on music, musicologist scholars go through this same process to discuss and collaborate with connecting works and eras, bringing it all together.

Works Cited:

Bent, Ian D., David W. Hughes, Robert C. Provine, Richard Rastall, Anne Kilmer, David Hiley, Janka Szendrei, Thomas B. Payne, Margaret Bent, and Geoffrey Chew. “Notation.” Oxford Music Online, January 20, 2001.

Cronne, H.a. “Handwriting in England and Wales. By N. Denholm-Young. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 1954. Pp. 102, 31 Plates. 30s.” Irish Historical Studies10, no. 37 (1956): 120-25. Accessed January 28, 2019.

Pope, Stephen Travis. “Perspectives of New Music Vol. 24, No. 2.” Perspectives of New Music26, no. 1 (1988): 156-89. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/833219.

Hamm, Charles. “Ensemble Music.” Music Educators Journal Vol. 63, No. 724, no. 6 (1938): 148-49. Accessed January 28, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3395246.


[1] Charlton Hinman’s The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare (Oxford, 1963)

[2] Tyson, Wolf.  “Musicology: Textual Scholarship,” The Grove music online(2001, updated and revised, 31 January 2014), https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.46710 (accessed January 28, 2019).

[3]Duckles, Vincent.  “Musicology: Textual Scholarship,” The Grove music online(2001, updated and revised, 31 January 2014), https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.46710 (accessed January 28, 2019).



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