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Re: Ancient tablatures

From: Marc Hohl
Subject: Re: Ancient tablatures
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 2009 20:22:10 +0200
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090817)

Laura Conrad schrieb:
"Marc" == Marc Hohl <address@hidden> writes:

    Marc> I am not at all familiar with these old tablatures, but they
    Marc> look just amazing, so simply for typographic and aesthetical
    Marc> reasons, these should be made possible with lilypond.

Actually, there are good musical reasons, too.  In the 16th and maybe
most of the 17th, and in some places longer than that, the
dominant instrument which could play many notes at a time was the
lute, or various other plucked string instruments which could read the
same tablature.
I assumed that these tablatures are still used, but in fact I did see them,
but never had to /decrypt/ them for myself.
So this means that lots of the kinds of music which would later be
published with keyboard accompaniment, which lilypond transcribes very
well, was published with lute tablature.

So my edition of all the part songs of John Dowland
<> (which
many people think of as lute songs, but most of them are really
accompanied madrigals) is really incomplete, because I've
only transcribed the vocal lines, and in general not the lute

For a lot of them, the lute tablature is very little different from
just a transcription of the vocal lines, but in others there's a lot
of decoration.
I've made some efforts to transcribe the tablature, but what I want
ideally is to transcribe what's there, in an input form that doesnt'
require me to translate the tablature into notes, and then use that
transcription plus the tuning of the strings to produce both a
tablature that looks like the one in the facsimile and standard
notation that a modern keyboard player could deal with.
That's an interesting point - I think Dana Emery posted to the
users list that writing tablature as normal notation and letting lilypond
do the translation into tablature is at least not always the best way.

For me, it is most of the time, but I can think of situations where
Iit may not, and the lute tablatures are a great example where the coding
should work "the other way 'round".
Lute players should note that I'm aware that tablature has different
information from notation: specifically that the beginning time of the
note is specified, but not the length of the note.  However, I believe
that good keyboard players are just as capable as lute players of
making the decision about where to end the note; they just aren't as
capable as players of 6-course fretted instruments of playing
tablature for 6-course fretted instruments.
Hm, then let's try to nail it down: how would you like to input
tablature? As I can see in the literature I have about lute music,
getting lilypond to produce the desired output is possible (yes, it will
be a lot of work, but ... ) But I find the input structure more
interesting, because even a new kind of input format can probably be
provided by lilypond (don't speak about the time to implement that),
or we can use some converters which translate the lute tablature
into lilypond syntax, which again translates this into a nicely
formatted tablature.


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