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editorial accidentals

From: William R. Brohinsky
Subject: editorial accidentals
Date: Wed, 05 Sep 2001 07:05:55 -0400

Lilypond has great support for doing a number of things with
accidentals, but I so far have not been able to find one thing I need
very badly.

I am (this is beginning to sound like advertising copy!) transcribing
the first  book of polyphonic music printed with moveable type,
Odhecaton A. Odhecaton was printed in 1501 (first ed) and thus uses the
musical system of the time. While this system makes use of sharps and
flats, they are not used the same as in modern music. Aside from the
general use of sharps and flats to cancel each other (we now use the
natural sign), music of the time introduces what we now think of as
accidentals as 'temporary mode change' signs. 

This means that a sharp or flat may be added many notes before it seems
to be used, and may affect notes other than the specific ones that are
notated with the accidentals. The latter effect is a byproduct of musica

The modern editor's job includes figuring out a) which notes the
mode-change actually apply to explicitly and b) indicating which
additional notes are affected implicitely and indicating them. The
common usage is as follows:
-notes explicitly affected by the mode-change sign are generally marked
with a normal accidental when they first occur. 
-the same notes may still be affected on a second or third appearance,
and are generally marked with a small accidental sign raised over the
-all notes affected by the system of musica ficta (in the opinion of the
editor) are marked with the same raised, reduced size accidental.

I'm at the point where I'm adding ficta/mode-change notations to my
first 30 files...except I can't see where lily has anything built-in to
handle the raised editorial signs. If someone could point it out to me,
I'd be grateful. If this really isn't in Lilypond yet, I suspect it
should be.

The rules seem to be that the editorial accidentals are on the order of
2/3-the-size of the normal ones, centered on the note and placed over
it. The bottom point of the accidental hovers half a staff-space above
the top line of the staff or the top of the note head or stem if either
protrude above the top of the staff. The notes in question rarely rise
above the staves if the editor is doing his job properly, and even so I
can't remember ever, in 30 years of dealing with this stuff, seeing an
editorial accidental placed under a staff. 


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