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Re: GDP: What term do you use?

From: Trevor Bača
Subject: Re: GDP: What term do you use?
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2008 14:49:36 -0600

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 2:31 PM, Kieren MacMillan <address@hidden> wrote:
Hi Damian (et al):

> semantically i completely disagree... ;--)

Excellent! I like a good discussion...  =)

> in the case of a 'transposing at the octave' instrument such as
> piccolo or double bass,
> the clef change or 8va/b sign is implied and simply omitted as a
> convenience.

Aside: we (all) should immediately stop doing that -- we should start
writing ALL instruments with "transposed clefs", to be clear.  ;-)

Regardless, the question (for me) still comes down to the way we are
presenting "transposition" in the documentation. Does "transposition"
mean taking a set of pitches and changing the pitches that we want to
hear (e.g., \transpose c g { a b c d }) or leaving the pitches we
want to hear as is (explicitly, \transpose c c { a b c d}) and
*notating* them in a non-trivial/non-obvious way?

One process (transposition) alters the original pitches, the other
(clef *or* octavation) is simply a notational convention -- two very
different results, IMO.

Most importantly to the current issue, when looking in the Lilypond
documentation for information on ottava brackets:
    1. I would never search for "transposition";
    2. The heading "octave transposition" is less accurately
descriptive of the intended content than "ottava brackets".

Our goal in all of this should be to IMPROVE the documentation, not
make it less clear.

Ah, I agree with Kieren here. FWIW, to me the act of transposing something means taking some pitches and moving them all either up or down by some interval; there're at least chromatic and diatonic flavors of this and what they both have in common is the act moving some source material up or down by some amount. When do we transpose? We transpose when we write out parts for transposing instruments (into another key). We transpose when we sequence stuff in Baroque (or quasi-Baroque) passages within a piece (not necessary into another key or even tonic region, we just transpose a couple of times to get somewhere else harmonically). And we transpose when we compose, possibly moving sets or collections of pitches around using the abstract transposition operator T_n beloved of American pitchclass theory.

None of which has anything to do with ottava spanners. Or with "octavated" (caveat: not an English word) clefs. So while both an ottava spanners and an octavated clefs most certainly do effect "octave transposition" (which is absolutely the right phrase here), I would never check the docs for "transposition" of any sort when looking up ottava spanners and octavated clefs. I would check for "ottava (spanners)" and "clefs".

I think I've lost the point of this thread. To me it seems completely reasonable to talk about "transposition" when referring to \transpose, to talk about "ottava spanners" when talking about ottava spanners, and to lump octavated clefs into the "clefs" section since "octavated clefs" isn't a phrase that's available in English.

The confusion here must be between the graphic *symbols* for things (like ottava spanners and clefs) and the musical *effects* of those things (ie, octave transposition). In general the names of the symbols are probably much more widely agreed upon than the names of the abstract processes those symbols effect.

Trevor Bača
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