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Re: Lute tablature

From: David Raleigh Arnold
Subject: Re: Lute tablature
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 18:04:37 -0400

On Friday 23 May 2003 10:23 am, Laura Conrad wrote:
> >>>>> "David" == David Raleigh Arnold <address@hidden> writes:
>     David> The lines and letters in the tab give most of the
>     David> fingering,
> All the fingering, except for any damping that happens.

No, there are no LH or RH finger indications, only frets and strings.

> I'm sure it's useful in some sense, but not in the sense of making it
> easier to read the part while playing with an ensemble.

A distinction without a difference, IMO.
> An orchestral score is more "useful" for seeing how a symphony should
> sound than the first violin part, but I don't know any violinists who
> play from the score when they're playing in an orchestra.

Not the same thing at all, because we are talking about one polyphonic 
>     David> Since the stems on the notation are more useful than the
>     David> stems on the tab, it is insane to have both, especially if
>     David> they express different time values.  Very simple issue.
> No, it's exactly when they express different time values that you
> want the stems on the tab, because you do need that information, and
> you often don't need all the extra information on the notation stems.

The extra information on the notation stems tells you what it is 
supposed to sound like.  The tab gives *partial* information about how 
to play it.  The tab info about the time values is false.  How can that 
be good?
>     David> I'm sure Rune or Mats could substitute letters for numbers
>     David> in a few minutes.  If Dowland could have done it
>     David> automatically and pretty the way you can, he would have
>     David> provided the notation, don't doubt it for a second.
> I don't know what makes you think Dowland couldn't have written
> notation as easily as he wrote tab.  He wrote lots of (very
> good-looking) notation for singers and viol players, and he could
> have written it for lute players if he and the lute players he knew
> had wanted it.

Not the point.  Of course he could write it.  I have no doubt that he 
did write it.  He could not have afforded to have it printed.  I meant 
a reality problem, not a musical one.
> I'm not arguing against lute players playing from keyboard
> transcriptions if that's what they want to do; I'm just saying that
> for the purposes of my edition, which provides singers and other
> instrumentalists what Dowland's users had, providing what Dowland
> provided for lute players (and presumably used himself) is a _good
> thing_, and is something that lilypond should do.  An added bonus
> from my point of view is that if I write a python program that
> translates abctab2ps input into lilypond tab, I have the start of a
> keyboard transcription more easily than doing the translation myself.

I don't claim that a keyboard version is less work, just that it is 
worth it.
> To provide an example, look at the file

Very nice, except that the stems in the tab part just get in the way, 
because they provide *no* information that isn't in the notation.
> This is a transcription of the two voice parts Dowland wrote, the tab
> Dowland provided, and a keyboard transcription of the tab. It was
> done by someone who plays both lute and keyboard professionally.  As
> far as I can tell, it's exactly the kind of transcription you're
> advocating, except that it includes Dowland's stems in the lute tab.
> It runs to 5 pages, which is starting to be like playing from the
> orchestral score. You can see that the keyboard transcription
> contains very different information from the lute tablature.

The tab stems add nothing.
> In this particular transcription, the editor leaves the lute twiddle
> on "fall" in the first measure out of the keyboard part completely,
> so the lute player would be left completely guessing where to play
> the second string 'a' and third string 'd' just before "from" if
> there weren't stems in the lute tab.

Not my fault. Shame on him.
>I doubt that a lute player who was actually
> looking at the tab (as opposed to one playing entirely from
> transcription) would want to use the stems in the piano part on two
> staves rather than having his or her own.

You doubt it but I still say that it is so.  

Again, what about when your lute player doesn't show up?

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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