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Re: Lute tablature

From: David Raleigh Arnold
Subject: Re: Lute tablature
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 22:45:24 -0400

On Thursday 22 May 2003 09:16 am, Laura Conrad wrote:
> >>>>> "David" == David Raleigh Arnold <address@hidden> writes:
>     David> Tablature does not require stems if it is with notation,
> I'm sure you have some specific notation in mind that would
> substitute for the information provided by the stems in Dowland's
> tablature.

If you have the music notation, there is *no* further information in 
Dowland's stems, in fact there is much less, and they serve only to 
look confusing.  Piano score is customarily used to transcribe lute 
tab.  The problem is not transferring the information in Dowland's 
stems, it is the lack of information in Dowland's stems.  The lines and 
letters in the tab give most of the fingering, and the notation tells 
how it is supposed to sound.  That's the best way.

> However, I don't know that anyone has ever transcribed
> Dowland lute songs with this kind of notation.  And if I were going
> to do a transcription of the lute tab into standard notation, I would
> want to do one that would be useful to keyboard players.

How could seeing how it should sound fail to be useful to anyone?
> The reason a keyboard transcription wouldn't be as useful to a lute
> player as the original tablature is that while the stems *look* like
> the stems that are used in staff notation, they don't actually
> describe the length of any particular note; what they describe is the
> distance between the beginning of the "chord" they are over, and the
> beginning of the next chord.

That's why you want the notation.
> To make a transcription of a Dowland lute song that would be useful
> to a keyboard player, you need to disentangle the voices from the
> lute part, and figure out how long the individual notes played on the
> lute (and on the lute frequently just left to ring until they fade
> out or until that string is plucked again) should be played.  And
> this means that not all the notes in the tablature "chord" have the
> same length, and therefore in the notation they wouldn't have the
> same stem.  I really don't think any lute player would be able to
> deal with this as easily as they can with Dowland's stems, which just
> tell the performer when to hit the next chord, and don't say anything
> at all about how long the notes in the previous chord are played.

What, are we talking ukulele here?  What chords?  Lute music is in 
parts.  You don't even know what's tied and what isn't from the tab.
> Anyway, it's on my list to see what I can get lilypond's current
> tablature to do about simulating Dowland's. 

Why bother?  Since this is ensemble music, the notation would not 
involve as much guesswork as it would for a solo.  The lines and 
letters are all that is required *or desirable*.

As for every lute player in the world preferring not to have notation, 
Thurston Dart, Diana Poulton, and others would be very surprised to 
hear it.

Since the stems on the notation are more useful than the stems on the 
tab, it is insane to have both, especially if they express different 
time values.  Very simple issue.  

> I'm hoping to write up
> some specific bug reports or enhancement requests that will let a
> developer with more knowledge of lilypond internals than I have help
> remove any existing limitations that prevent lily from doing the job.

I'm sure Rune or Mats could substitute letters for numbers in a few 
minutes.  If Dowland could have done it automatically and pretty the 
way you can, he would have provided the notation, don't doubt it for a 
second.  DaveA

The biggest losers of all are the winners of an unjust war.
The wars are not over.  Just the winning part is over.
Bush lied.  Thousands died.  dra@

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