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

From: Mark Stephen Mrotek
Subject: RE: <<aes,2. \\ {s4 ees2} \\ {s2 bes4}>>
Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2019 10:12:50 -0800


Thank you for the caveat regarding Gould.


-----Original Message-----
From: lilypond-user
[mailto:address@hidden On Behalf Of
Aaron Hill
Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2019 9:35 AM
To: address@hidden
Subject: Re: <<aes,2. \\ {s4 ees2} \\ {s2 bes4}>>

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 
>>> notation
>>> practice: I was so confused by this bad typesetting that I thought 
>>> the bar 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 
> correct".
> 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

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

-- Aaron Hill

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