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Re: <<aes,2. \\ {s4 ees2} \\ {s2 bes4}>>

From: Aaron Hill
Subject: Re: <<aes,2. \\ {s4 ees2} \\ {s2 bes4}>>
Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2019 09:34:41 -0800
User-agent: Roundcube Webmail/1.3.8

On 2019-01-05 2:40 am, Wols Lists wrote:
On 04/01/19 18:41, Aaron Hill wrote:

Yeesh, that is terrible.This is why it's important to follow good
practice: I was so confused by this bad typesetting that I thought the
was 6/4 time, and now my day is ruined.

Unless someone is doing academic work where it is critical for the
typesetting to precisely match that of a reference work, all new
typesetting ideally should follow the current wisdom of notation. There
is little reason to continue to propagate archaic and non-standard
practices, especially if they are more likely to cause confusion.

This is exactly what I *H*A*T*E* about people who proclaim "This is

Take my case - which would you choose between "follow the current
wisdom" and "music that is readable (and hence playable)". Note that
this *IS* an either/or choice! How often have I moaned on this list
because I need to over-ride lily's defaults because the result is
otherwise pretty much unplayable ...

I disagree. The two options are not mutually exclusive--they are one and the same. That is, I see following classical and modern wisdom as tools to aid in achieving what will be readable and playable. But the goal is very much the latter, not the former...

I make no comment about the current piece being discussed - it sounds
like it's incomprehensible to orchestral musicians, but why should
everybody be forced to speak "orchestra"? We don't all speak English, or
write in the Latin script!

Since you make the comparison to natural languages, let me be clear that I am not a prescriptivist. I do not believe in the idea that written language must align to some preordained guidelines. Rather, I am a proponent of descriptivism, where the primary (or possibly only) goal is simply to ensure clear communication of thoughts and ideas. If your reader can understand you with reasonable unambiguity, then you have succeeded.

The problem I have with something like Elements of Style is that the work is largely arbitrary yet presented as if it were based in fact. Modern research and analysis of written works through history do not agree with Strunck and White's conclusions. Based on that, one might all too quickly throw out the Elements; but putting aside the ego of the authors, there is still wisdom in its pages. It is ultimately born out of understanding why and how a rule can be useful in different situations. And to quote a cult classic, "Sometimes you have to know when to break the rules."

In the world of music notation, it would seem that Gould has filled a similar role. I have seen many folks cite their work as the rational basis for engraving something a particular way. It would be my approach to take this work not as "you must strictly adhere to these various commandments" but rather "while ideal to follow this path as closely as reasonable, stray from it should it make things clearer."

Given that, you should definitely feel free to experiment with notation and treat it like an artist who has much freedom with their brush. If your music is particularly unusual, perhaps an equally unusual engraving is most apropos. And hopefully LilyPond is and will continue to be malleable enough to accommodate the whims of the unusual.

But for matters of the not-so-unusual, have no disillusion your engraving (or writing) will be readily clear if you choose to stray too far from the path.

-- Aaron Hill

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