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Re: GDP: add "extender line" to the glossary?
Re: GDP: add "extender line" to the glossary?
Wed, 03 Oct 2007 00:10:07 -0700
On 10/2/07 9:32 AM, "Miguel Lopes Santos Ramos" <address@hidden>
>> From: Kurt Kroon <address@hidden>
>> On 9/28/07 12:05 PM, "Graham Percival" <address@hidden> wrote:
>>> Should we add "extender line" to the glossary? Is this a real musical
>>> term, or a made-up lilypond term? Any vocalists want to comment?
And it was as a vocalist that I commented, thus my first citation to a
scholarly edition of songs.
>> Since Dr. Byrd is well respected in musical academia, I think his use of
>> the term qualifies it as "authoritative", and therefore deserving of a
>> spot in the glossary.
I said that Dr. Byrd is "well respected", when I should have described him
as "a founding father of computer-assisted music notation". His 1984 Ph.D.
dissertation -- titled "Music Notation by Computer" -- is so well-regarded
that at least one site specializing in products related to music notation
prominently offers a comb-bound edition of it (for 53.90 USD) ... when most
doctoral theses usually sit on the library shelves at the university where
they were presented.
> I don't want to meddle in your discussion, but it seems to me that "extender
> line" is a term which is very well defined if used within a very specific
> context, which explains its use in a specific paragraph of specialized
I disagree, and that's why I cited Dr. Byrd's description in the tables at
the back "A Music Representation Requirement Specification for Academia"
(alas, I didn't do a very good job at it):
"Item 15.3, G[raphic symbol], V[ery ]des[irable that this capability be
identified/made available.] An optional "extender" line of arbitrary extent
after the text." Note that he didn't specify the kind of text to be
As Dr. Byrd explains, such an "extender" line can be very useful "for many
purposes, such as melismatic lyrics, indications of the string to play,
etc." I enjoy working with old music, so another use came immediately to
mind: figured bass. When a note represented by a figure needs to be held
through subsequent changes of harmony, that held note is usually indicated
with an extender line.
> However, it seems ambiguous if used within the wider field of music engraving.
> Certainly it is on a different level than terms such as "a space", "stem",
Yes ... because the _graphic_ representation of it _is_ ambiguous: they all
look alike when they're printed ... even though, musically speaking, they
aren't the same thing (other than an indicator that *something" is
Just so I'm clear: even though the graphic representation is similar (or
even the same), I appreciate the fact that I can say "Lilypond, this is a
melisma", "Lilypond, that's a set of overlapping/extended figured bass",
"Lilypond, the violins should play this entire passage on the G string",
"Lilypond, explicitly indicate the bounds of these cresc. and decresc." and
Lilypond does the right thing when it comes to laying out what I've written.
(though I'd probably have to tweak the last one a little bit.)
Continuing to use different commands to describe different musical
ideas/functions/whatever is a Very Good Thing:
Subsuming all these different musical ideas/functions/whatever into some
generic \makeExtenderLine command is a Very Bad Idea.
> As to it being authoritative, I would argue that an authority's use of the
> "it" to refer to a chair wouldn't make it authoritative that "it" means
> in a given field...
Your argument is a red herring -- Western European languages like English,
French and Spanish rely on pronoun substitution to avoid sounding stilted.
But music is not language, and analogies drawn in one don't easily apply to
In French, one can naturally say: "J'ai placé la chaise près du mur" and
thereafter, I can merrily chat away about "la" or "l'", until I decide to
redefine it by using it to substitute for some other noun.
As I mentioned above, "melisma lines", "figured bass extenders", and whatnot
_look_ similar, but they aren't the same thing. So, for figured bass
and rely on Lilypond to draw the appropriate extender lines. Similarly, in
vocal music, I can explicitly set a melisma:
... lots of notes here, then we turn it off
or I can simply slur the notes together, and Lilypond draws the appropriate
lyric extender line.
> Something like "melisma line" would be more unambiguous...
Yes, it would be unambiguous ... but should we take that to its logical
conclusion, and make up new terms for each new task that we assign to our
simple "extender line"? Or should we simply say (paraphrasing Dr. Byrd):
'Extender line: a line of arbitrary length that extends some text, used in
many contexts. For specific uses:
* In vocal music, see "Melisma"
* In figured bass, see "Figured bass extender"
* In string music, see "String indicator"
* In etc. ..., see etc. ....'