Music Performance Practice in Western Art Music
by
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0189

Introduction

Performance practice (or performing practice, from the German word Aufführungspraxis) is a field within musicology that is primarily concerned with how music is or was performed. Its chronological boundaries are not fixed, but traditionally most research in the field has centered upon music composed before 1750, often referred to generally as “early music.” Early interest in performance practice was supported by the production of scholarly editions, a movement led by German musicologists in the 19th century. British and French scholars contributed to that effort and also contributed to a growing literature of articles and books on interpreting musical notation. By the middle of the 20th century, interest in performing and recording early repertories brought instrument builders, performers, and listeners into the picture, which in turn brought new questions and controversies to the fore. Since 1980 or thereabouts, researchers have extended the definition of early music to include Classical, Romantic, and post-Romantic music. Thus, a work written centuries ago may have many different performance practices associated with it over time and as performed in different geographical locations. The tools for studying performance practice range broadly to include primary sources such as original printed and manuscript sources, instruction books, historical accounts of performances, and surviving examples of the musical instruments themselves. Important evidence can also be found in images and other iconographical sources. Study of existing evidence has brought about a vast secondary literature that provides important information for scholars, performers, instrument builders, and other individuals who are concerned with music as realized in performance. Since much of the surviving evidence continues to be discovered, and reinterpretations are often required, our understanding of how music was performed is ever-changing, and of necessity, there may be more than one interpretation of any given work or historical practice. The objectives of the field continue to be reformulated and altered as new information comes to light. Concepts such as the pursuit of authenticity in performance and the use of modern instruments versus “original” instruments have undergone shifts in meaning and today are generally replaced with discussions about “historically informed” performances and “mainstream” versus “period” instruments. A central objective of performance practice in any period remains the attempt to determine how much and what types of freedom individual composers envisioned for their works.

General Overviews

Two types of general overviews exist in the secondary literature on performance practice. One is a comprehensive overview of performance in all periods of music history such as Reidemeister 1988 and Gutknecht 1994. The two-volume Brown and Sadie 1989 is an outstanding guide to the entire field, and its inclusion of an overview of the 20th century was groundbreaking. The second type of overview is usually somewhat more limited in scope but nevertheless remains important as a critical overview. One of the most influential works in this category was Dart 1954, which laid the groundwork for many subsequent investigations. Donington 1977, one of several books by this author, remains a significant milestone in the field. Butt 2002 is a more recent example of the second type of general overview demonstrating that, half a century after Dart and following an intense amount of research on many of the issues he raised, new controversies emerged in this rapidly changing field of inquiry. Cohen and Snitzer 1985 and Kelly 2011 are addressed to early music enthusiasts in a more general way than the previous studies. Kelly concentrates on Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, whereas Cohen and Snitzer include Classical music as well.

  • Brown, Howard Mayer, and Stanley Sadie, eds. Performance Practice. 2 vols. New York and London: Norton, 1989.

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    Issued in the New Grove handbook series, but does not duplicate articles in The New Grove Dictionary. Each volume is organized by historical periods: Medieval and Renaissance in Vol. 1 (Music before 1600), and Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century in Vol. 2 (Music after 1600). Essays by individual scholars offer both breadth and detail.

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  • Butt, John. Playing with History: The Historical Approach to Musical Performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511613555Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A critical overview of “historically informed” performance and one of the first sources to introduce this term into the literature. Butt raises philosophical issues in a wide-ranging and provocative discussion of arguments representing both the proponents and detractors of the movement. Emphasis is placed on the centrality of the work, the significance of the composer, and the inherent difficulty of considering a composer’s intentions. Largely addressed to musicologists who are also performers, but also useful for graduate students and experienced players.

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  • Cohen, Joel, and Herb Snitzer. Reprise: The Extraordinary Revival of Early Music. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1985.

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    A comprehensive survey of how performance practice came to be established from the early 20th century onwards, its definition (early music here defined as that composed between 1100 and 1800), major performers in the field, and a few significant issues that remain open to controversy, especially the Authenticity Debate and the Voice and Singing Style. Directed mainly toward musicians who are new to the study of performance practice and to mainstream performers who are curious about its goals.

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  • Dart, Thurston. The Interpretation of Music. London and New York: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1954.

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    A classic statement of the “problem” of how to perform musical works, each attempt being a unique and different experience. Chapters on the editor’s task, sonorities, and extemporization are particularly revealing. Organized in reverse chronological order, beginning with style in the 18th century, ending with the Middle Ages.

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  • Donington, Robert. The Interpretation of Early Music. Rev. ed. London: Faber and Faber, 1977.

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    Extensive coverage of written and unwritten conventions of ornamentation and accompaniment, as well as a great many other areas related mainly to music from 1500 to 1800. Six new chapters in the 1977 edition deal with aspects of authenticity, opera, and the ways that performance practice has changed. First published in 1963; a new version was also published in 1974.

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  • Gutknecht, Dieter. “Aufführungspraxis.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. 2d rev. ed. Sachteil 1. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 954–986. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1994.

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    An extensive, up-to-date treatment of performance practice, with sections on each period and critical evaluation of the literature. The section entitled “Historischer Űberblick” (historical overview) is especially valuable, as is the extensive bibliography.

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  • Kelly, Thomas Forrest. Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1093/actrade/9780199730766.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Covers the basics, including issues that arise in performing the music within each early style period (Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque) and unwritten conventions such as improvisation. Includes a brief history of the early music revival, its personalities and institutions, conductors, and recording artists. A good starting point for students, listeners, and performers.

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  • Reidemeister, Peter. Historische Aufführungspraxis: Eine Einführung. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988.

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    Covers the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque eras, with emphasis on the last-mentioned. The first chapter, on the current state of performance practice, is particularly valuable, as are the extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources and the list of treatises.

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Collections of Essays (Including Festschriften)

Most of the entries in this section feature a breadth of coverage and an array of different (sometimes opposing) points of view. Frequently, several different methodological approaches are represented within a single volume. A particularly comprehensive collection of essays is Cyr 2011, a four-volume reference tool divided according to historical periods that includes reprints of significant contributions to performance practice research. The coverage in Watkins 2009 (including monophonic traditions and American music) is unusually broad. Also broadly based (representing the Baroque to Romantic eras), Rink 2003 includes a few essays that broaden the definition of performance practice to include the psychology of performance and the relationship between performance and analysis. Some collections take their theme from the research and performing interests of a single well-known expert in the field, such as Christopher Hogwood (Donahue 2011), Timothy McGee (Epp and Power 2009), or Jeffery Kite-Powell (Scott 2012), using the interests of the dedicatee as a point of departure, or using a specific musical instrument as a focal point. Boorman 1983 is a significant contribution to the field of late Medieval music. Neumann 1989 is a provocative collection that demonstrates new research on Baroque music and critical evaluation that continues to stimulate discussion.

  • Boorman, Stanley, ed. Studies in the Performance of Late Medieval Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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    An important and wide-ranging group of essays, most of which consider broad issues and bring historical or iconographical evidence to bear upon them. The period covered is c. 1320–1500. Topics include use of instruments, articulation, performing ensembles, and texted music in performance.

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  • Cyr, Mary, series ed. The Library of Essays on Performance Practice. 4 vols. Surry, UK: Ashgate, 2011.

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    Each volume features a selection of essays around specific topics within each historical period. Each volume offers an extensive editorial overview of the issues and controversies represented within a particular historical period. Extensive bibliographies are included. Medieval, ed. Honey Meconi; Renaissance, ed. Kenneth Kreitner; Baroque, ed. Peter Walls; Classical/Romantic, ed. David Milsom.

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  • Donahue, Thomas, ed. Essays in Honor of Christopher Hogwood: The Maestro’s Direction. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2011.

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    This Festschrift consists mainly of essays on keyboard music and its performance and is a tribute to the extensive career and diverse contributions of the late conductor and harpsichordist Christopher Hogwood. Both solo music and concertos are covered, and composers represented include Handel, J. S. Bach, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Several essays pay special attention to the clavichord.

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  • Epp, Maureen, and Brian E. Power, eds. The Sounds and Sights of Performance in Early Music: Essays in Honour of Timothy J. McGee. Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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    The contents are divided into two parts—“viewing the evidence” and “reconsidering contexts” in the Middle Ages and Renaissance—and many essays combine scholarly inquiry with practical considerations about performing both instrumental and vocal music. Dance, visual images, and non-Western traditions are also considered.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. New Essays in Performance Practice. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989.

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    Eighteen essays, all written after 1982, some reprinted from early music journals, others new. An introductory overview includes comments on the authenticity controversy, rhythm, and ornamentation.

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  • Rink, John, ed. Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Twelve essays highlight “trends” in musical performance, including areas not often discussed in the field of performance practice, such as the psychology of performance and the relationship between performance and analysis. The subjects are drawn from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. References to additional literature are included at the end of each essay.

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  • Scott, Allen, ed. “Hands-On” Musicology: Essays in Honor of Jeffery Kite-Powell. Ann Arbor, MI: Steglein, 2012.

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    A broad-ranging group of essays covering topics in plainsong, Renaissance sacred and secular music, Baroque sacred and instrumental music, and some 19th-century topics, including Liszt. Most essays combine musicological investigation with research on performance practice.

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  • Watkins, Timothy, ed. Performance Practice: Issues and Approaches. Ann Arbor, MI: Steglein, 2009.

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    Contributions arising from a conference at Rhodes College, Memphis in 2007, in four major areas: monophonic traditions, American musics, Baroque repertories, and Romantic contexts. Notable for its inclusion of the first two areas in particular, since these topics are rarely covered in the literature on performance practice.

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Dictionaries

Dictionaries are an excellent guide to the vast array of primary sources for the study of performance practice. As reference tools, they are also reliable ways of approaching terms and concepts whose meaning may have changed over time. A particularly broad and approachable guide is Jackson 2005, which offers a bibliography within each entry. For the interpretation of French music, the six-volume Saint-Arroman 1985 is comprehensive and deals with many primary sources. Its arrangement by genres and instruments is useful to both researchers and performers. Strahle 1995 is the only one that includes the 16th century as well as the Baroque period. Its significance for researchers is enhanced by a chronological presentation of information within each article and by references to many manuscript sources as well as early prints.

  • Jackson, Roland. Performance Practice: A Dictionary-Guide for Musicians. New York and London: Routledge, 2005.

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    Substantial articles on terms, composers, theorists, instruments, and genres, with a bibliography at the end of each article.

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  • Saint-Arroman, Jean. L’Interprétation de la musique française 1661–1789. 6 vols. Paris: Librairie Honoré Champion, 1985.

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    Broad and detailed coverage of French Baroque vocal and instrumental music. Vols. 1 and 6 are directly concerned with interpreting scores (Vol. 1) and terms relating to instruments and the voice (Vol. 6). Other volumes deal with music for organ and strings (Vols. 2 and 3), the French suite and vocal genres (Vol. 4), and ornamentation and phrasing (Vol. 5).

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  • Strahle, Graham. An Early Music Dictionary: Musical Terms from British Sources, 1500–1740. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    Entries include terms drawn from dictionaries, treatises, and other primary sources, both printed and manuscript. Sources and definitions are presented in chronological order, allowing readers to trace changes of meaning for each term. Includes many cross-references in individual entries and a full list of primary sources in the bibliography.

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Bibliographies

Because the literature for performance practice is so vast, bibliographies are often the first reference tool for pursuing research on a given topic. The works cited here represent examples of comprehensive bibliographies that cover a large portion of the field. Bibliographies of literature on a specific instrument and on other relatively limited topics also exist, often published in journals devoted to specific subjects or instruments. Many of the sources listed in other categories within the present bibliography also have extensive bibliographies that form a starting point for further research. Vinquist and Zaslaw 1970 is a classic in the field and was published at a time when the literature was still manageable within a relatively slim volume. Jackson 1988 is more up to date and comprehensive, but both sources remain useful as guides to this ever-expanding field.

  • Jackson, Roland. Performance Practice, Medieval to Contemporary: A Bibliographical Guide. Music Research and Information Guides 9. New York and London: Garland, 1988.

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    With 1,392 entries, this annotated bibliography is the most comprehensive reference tool of its type. The first three chapters cover general surveys, monody (9th–13th centuries), and polyphony (9th–13th centuries). Subsequent chapters proceed by century. Annual supplements (1988–1997) in Performance Practice Review.

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  • Vinquist, Mary, and Neal Zaslaw, eds. Performance Practice: A Bibliography. New York: Norton, 1970.

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    Despite its age, this bibliography is still a useful tool owing to its excellent index and inclusion of primary as well as secondary sources. Supplements in Current Musicology 12 (1971): 129–149, and 15 (1973): 126–136.

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Journals

Included in this section are journals that are devoted specifically to performance practice, such as the Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis and Performance Practice Review, as well as those whose objectives specifically include research on performance practice. Many musicology journals also publish articles on performance practice from time to time. The Galpin Society Journal and the Consort are longstanding British journals that focus mainly on instrumental music and feature many articles on performance practice in specific repertories. The Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society combines musicological research, organology, and performance practice without set limits on period or cultures. Keyboard Perspectives is an example of a journal devoted to a specific category of musical instrument, included here because of its diversity of approaches to performance practice and wide-ranging topics. Both Early Music and Imago Musicae are richly illustrated and include many articles on performance practice. Journals whose main subject is dance, opera, or other specific topics may include articles on performance practice from time to time, and many societies devoted to early music or to specific instruments, too numerous to mention here, also publish journals with articles on topics related to performance practice.

  • Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis. 1977–.

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    An annual featuring mainly articles on performance practice for the period from the Middle Ages through the 19th century. Specific issues often address a theme, such as a family of instruments, composers, iconography, improvisation, or theory.

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  • The Consort. 1929–.

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    Published by the Dolmetsch Society (UK) annually. Includes articles on early music in Europe, mainly (though not exclusively) instrumental music, with a large component of performance practice.

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  • Early Music. 1973–.

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    Published four times per year, with contents devoted to early music defined broadly to include the 20th century, featuring a broad range of approaches, including performance practice. Richly illustrated, often themed issues around specific repertories, composers’ anniversaries, or other topics. Lists of contents from 1996 onward available online, and an annual index is published in paper.

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  • Galpin Society Journal. 1948–.

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    Published annually by the Galpin Society (UK), with broad coverage from ancient times to Mahler and beyond. Deals mainly with research about instruments and objects used in playing them (bows, mutes, reeds, etc.), often including performance practice. Many articles also deal with playing old instruments and their repertories. List of contents for each issue available online.

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  • Imago Musicae. 1984–.

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    An international yearbook founded by RIdIM (Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale) and devoted to iconographical studies on the design and use of musical instruments, often including aspects of performance practice. Includes a bibliography of books and articles on musical iconography in each issue.

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  • Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society. 1975–.

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    An annual journal with articles on the design and use of musical instruments, often including aspects that affect performance practice. Coverage includes all periods and all cultures. An index for Vols. 1–32 (1975–2006) is available online.

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  • Keyboard Perspectives. 2007/2008–.

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    A yearbook published by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. Includes a wide range of articles, many derived from conferences sponsored by the Center, dealing with performance practice issues on keyboard instruments.

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  • Performance Practice Review. 1988–.

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    Published twice a year in paper from 1988 to 1997, then annually from 2006 onward and online only. Articles and reviews range broadly across all aspects of performance practice in Western music. All issues are available with a keyword index online.

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Origin and Objectives of Performance Practice

The origin of performance practice as a field of study within musicology, usually attributed to German scholars of the early 20th century, was an outgrowth of interest in preparing scholarly editions of works by major composers. Gradually, as the study of performance practice took hold in various countries, scholars, performers, and listeners became increasingly aware of the need to apply scholarship in the field to actual performance. Although this objective, often referred to as the “early music movement,” created controversy (see the section on Issues and Controversies for examples), it also brought about much-needed dialogue between scholars and performers about how to approach many unanswered questions about interpreting music of the past. In a commemorative lecture, the author of Zaslaw 2001 traces the strong historical connection between musicology and performance practice in Germany and Britain in particular, and how early music came to be established in North America. A particularly influential debate ensued over the extent to which authenticity should be an objective in performing early music (see the Authenticity Debate). With reference to that debate, Dreyfus 1983 questions both past objectives and the future direction of performance practice. The impossibility of being authentic in one’s performances has given rise to an enormous literature proposing various balances between historical accuracy and practical expediency. Representative examples in Lawson 2013 and Price 2013 consider that balance from different perspectives. More purely historical in nature are Haskell 1988, which explores the North American early music scene, and Ellis 2005, which traces the beginning of early music interest in France from the early 19th century onward.

  • Dreyfus, Laurence. “Early Music Defended against Its Devotees: A Theory of Historical Performance in the Twentieth Century.” Musical Quarterly 69.3 (1983): 297–322.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/LXIX.3.297Save Citation »Export Citation »

    With reference to Adorno, the author questions the perceived “advances” of early music since the 1950s from a philosophical point of view and proposes a continual refinement of hypotheses as the future of early music.

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  • Ellis, Katharine. Interpreting the Musical Past: Early Music in Nineteenth-Century France. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    A historical study divided into three chronological periods within the 19th century that traces how patterns of interest in early music developed in France. The author draws on primary sources such as newspapers and periodicals. An extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources is included.

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  • Haskell, Harry. The Early Music Revival: A History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1988.

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    An approachable guide to how interest in early music began, from Mendelssohn’s performances of Bach onward, the significant contributions of Arnold Dolmetsch, and changing views toward the objectives of early music performance in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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  • Haynes, Bruce. The End of Early Music: A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189872.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Part scholarship, part performer’s guide, and part personal reflections, this unique work addresses both the past and future of early music and encourages experimentation and improvisation as important future endeavors in an ever-changing field.

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  • Lawson, Colin. “Historical Accuracy versus Practical Expediency: Early Instruments in the Digital Age.” Early Music 41.1 (February 2013): 27–29.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/cas160Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Outlines the challenges of balancing old and new approaches, construction materials, and tools, drawing on examples from brass and woodwind instruments, reeds, and mouthpieces, mainly of the Classical and Romantic periods.

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  • Lawson, Colin, and Robin Stowell. The Historical Performance of Music: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511481710Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Covering the period 1700 to 1900 and addressed to scholars, performers, and listeners who seek an overview of historical performance and its challenges. Includes four case studies that demonstrate some of the issues that arise in interpreting notation in various historical periods.

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  • Price, Curtis. “Scholarship, Performance, and Virtuosity.” Early Music 41.1 (February 2013): 77–78.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/cas150Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A brief but informative statement on the relationship between scholarship and performance and to what extent mainstream performers have embraced historical playing.

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  • Zaslaw, Neal. “Reflections on 50 Years of Early Music.” Early Music 29.1 (February 2001): 5–12.

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    Thoughtful reflections on the establishment of performance practice as a discipline, the significance of British contributions, and early-20th-century contributions on the Continent. Includes discussion of how early music groups developed in North America.

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Choosing a Score: Urtext, Facsimile, or Edited Score?

Among the initial decisions that a performer must make prior to learning a new piece, the choice of a score from which to play is one of the most important. Not surprisingly, given the array of choices available for many compositions, the choice can be difficult, and being able to recognize the various types of scores that are available will assist players and singers in making a choice. For anyone who wishes to make a historically appropriate choice, an “original” score will usually be sought, but will it be an edited, scholarly score, or one that incorporates suggestions for performance? Because editing principles have changed over time, even the choice among edited scores can be a difficult one. The Urtext, once seen as an unblemished rendering of the composer’s intentions, has been re-examined in the late 20th century. When Brett 1988 questioned the need for an Urtext, or indeed for any score in which an editor had intervened, the controversy deepened. The response most often expressed has been to recommend that performers use facsimile scores in their performances, but even facsimiles are not wholly immune from problems of interpretation. Silbiger 1994 argues in favor of facsimiles as aesthetically pleasing documents. Broude 1990 offers an overview of the advantages and potential pitfalls of facsimiles and recommends how they can best be used. Boorman 1999 engages with the question of whether any score—even the composer’s holograph—truly represents the work, and what responsibility the performer has in its presentation. Broude 2012 offers a reasoned statement about the differences between scholarly editions and performing editions and the value of each type.

  • Boorman, Stanley. “The Musical Text.” In Rethinking Music. Edited by Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist, 403–423. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    A cautionary but forward-looking argument about trusting any edited score, or even a composer’s holograph, since each written example represents a version of that work, not the work itself.

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  • Brett, Philip. “Text, Context, and the Early Music Editor.” In Authenticity and Early Music: A Symposium. Edited by Nicholas Kenyon, 83–114. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    Cogent observations about the decisions that editors make when preparing editions. The author questions whether the intervention of an editor is needed at all, since performers can also act as editors themselves.

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  • Broude, Ronald. “Facsimiles and Historical Performance: Promises and Pitfalls.” Historical Performance (The Journal of Early Music America) 3.1 (Spring 1990): 19–22.

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    An informative statement of the objectives, advantages, and disadvantages of facsimiles for performing early music, with recommendations about how they can be used to best advantage.

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  • Broude, Ronald. “Musical Works, Musical Texts, and Musical Editions: A Brief Overview.” Scholarly Editing: The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing 33 (2012): 1–29.

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    The author considers why different types of editions exist and how each can be used to best advantage. The objectives of scholarly editions and performing editions and how each came about, with suggestions about how performers can engage with either type.

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  • Silbiger, Alexander. “In Defense of Facsimiles.” Historical Performance (The Journal of Early Music America) 7 (Fall 1994): 101–104.

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    A response to Broude 1990 in which the author argues that from a practical perspective, facsimiles offer performers a historical view of a bygone age and often have significant advantages for interpretation.

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Performers’ Guides

The boundaries between what constitutes a “performer’s guide” and a scholarly study of performance practice for a given era are not always apparent. Inasmuch as performers themselves have different experiences and objectives, the sources geared toward applying research in a practical manner are both diverse and plentiful. For singers and instrumentalists who seek to create historically informed performances, such guides can be enormously helpful in leading them toward the primary sources that are of direct interest to them, and also by alerting them to issues that have already received considerable attention from scholars. Multiple examples of performers’ guides exist for each era. The ones included here are chosen for their comprehensive treatment of the subject, their inclusion of primary sources, and their approachable style and useful ancillary materials. Kuijken 2013 does not meet all of these criteria but is nevertheless a cogent and important statement that draws on the author’s breadth of experience in performing and recording early music. Vocal and instrumental music is represented in all of the guides, unless their titles state otherwise. Because of the complexity of performance issues in interpreting Medieval music, no one source answers all of the questions a performer may have. Duffin 2000 is an approachable guide that takes recent scholarship into account and can prove useful at the introductory level and to more seasoned performers. Kite-Powell 2007 is one of several Renaissance guides that are available, included here in part because it has an abundance of practical guidance without sacrificing a scholarly foundation and approach. Donington 1982 and Neumann 1993 offer guidance to a broad group of users, introducing primary sources and surveying the larger issues of Baroque interpretation. Much recent scholarship for the Baroque era has concentrated either on a smaller period than the broad dates 1600 to 1750 or on a specific geographical location. Books of the latter type are too numerous for inclusion here, but Carter 2012 represents an important contribution to historically informed performance for 17th-century music and is especially rich in background and ancillary materials that provide further guidance. More “hands-on” in their approach are Elliott 2006 for the voice and Sinn 2013 for pianists, each offering entry-level guidance to historically informed performance based on current research. (For additional sources that deal specifically with aspects of vocal performance, see Voice and Singing Style.)

  • Carter, Stewart, ed. A Performer’s Guide to 17th-Century Music. Revised and expanded by Jeffery Kite-Powell. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

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    The revised edition includes new material on the trombone, violin, and violoncello/violone. Chapters by scholars and performers deal with national styles, specific instruments, ornamentation, basso continuo, dance, theatrical productions, and other topics. References, bibliography, and summaries of treatises are included. First published in 1997.

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  • Donington, Robert. Baroque Music: Style and Performance: A Handbook. New York: Norton, 1982.

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    A concise guide to the principal issues that arise in performing Baroque music addressed primarily to performers. Numerous musical examples and a useful bibliography are included.

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  • Duffin, Ross W. A Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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    Organized in three parts: repertory (genres and geographical locations), voices and instruments (individual instruments, the voice, and how instruments were combined), and theory and practice (modes, musica ficta, notation, and tuning). Includes a useful discography and bibliography.

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  • Elliott, Martha. Singing in Style: A Guide to Vocal Performance Practices. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.

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    Consideration of style in various eras and genres, specifically in songs and chamber music (both sacred and secular), excluding opera. Topics such as vibrato and pronunciation are briefly discussed for each era from the early Baroque to the 20th century. Includes references and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

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  • Kite-Powell, Jeffery, ed. A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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    In-depth coverage of a broad range of vocal and instrumental concerns, including theory, dance, and guidance for the early music director, with individual chapters contributed by scholars and performers. Practical guidance for ensembles is included in many individual chapters. First published in 1994.

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  • Kuijken, Barthold. The Notation Is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.

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    An approachable guide to the written and unwritten conventions in music of the Baroque era, drawing in part on the experience and personal reflections of the author, an eminent performer. Includes a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Most chapters begin with recommendations about particularly significant primary sources.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. Performance Practices of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. With the assistance of Jane Stevens. New York: Schirmer, 1993.

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    Divided into six sections—tempo, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, and ornamentation—and includes re-evaluation of widely held views on inequality, overdotting, and many other issues. Extensive bibliography, including primary sources.

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  • Sinn, Deborah Rambo. Playing Beyond the Notes: A Pianist’s Guide to Musical Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    An entry-level guide intended to answer many of the questions students and teachers ask about how to approach historically informed performance and why it matters. Also useful for listeners who are familiar with some musical terminology and want to gain insight into performance issues. A companion website includes audio examples performed by the author.

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The Voice and Singing Style

Research on the voice from a historically informed perspective has generally lagged behind that for instruments, largely owing to the lack of reliable ways of studying the “instrument” itself and, to some extent, also owing to the considerable challenges of performing some repertories. Since the 1980s, with the recognition that performing early music involves some experimentation and re-creation, as well as careful study of historical sources, many more attempts have been made to engage with vocal treatises, historical accounts of singing, and a variety of other sources that shed light both on the voices that were used in the past and on the style of singing that was considered appropriate for various genres and repertories. A particularly useful overview of all historical periods and styles is Jander’s Grove Music Online article on Singing. To date, most studies of the voice and singing style address one period in some depth (and sometimes a limited geographical region within that period), such as McGee, et al. 1996 and McGee 1998 for Medieval music, Sanford 1995 for 17th-century French and Italian singing, or Toft 2013 and Toft 2015 for later periods. A more general survey of choral singing from a historically informed point of view is Plank 2004. Von Ramm 1980 offers an overview of several different solo vocal approaches to late Medieval and Renaissance periods.

  • Jander, Owen, Ellen T. Harris, David Fallows, and David Potter. “Singing.” In Grove Music Online.

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    A comprehensive discussion of vocal techniques and use of the voice in various historical periods, with a section on performance practice that includes topics such as dynamics, rhythm, and ornamentation. The online version is a somewhat expanded version of the entry in the 2001 New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (New York: Grove), with an updated bibliography.

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  • McGee, Timothy. The Sound of Medieval Song: Ornamentation and Vocal Style and Ornamentation according to the Treatises. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Addresses various types of written and improvised ornamentation, with some discussion of vocal style and many musical examples drawn primarily from sacred music. Contains a valuable appendix of excerpts from treatises of the period.

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  • McGee, Timothy, A. G. Rigg, and David N. Klausner, eds. Singing Early Music: The Pronunciation of European Languages in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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    Chapters by various scholars address pronunciation in Britain, France, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. Latin is also addressed within several chapters according to the region in which the music was composed. An accompanying compact disc gives numerous examples.

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  • Plank, Steven E. Choral Performance: A Guide to Historical Practice. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2004.

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    Covers most of the basic issues in performing Renaissance music (liturgical polyphony), with references and bibliography. Addressed to both singers and conductors.

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  • Sanford, Sally. “A Comparison of French and Italian Singing in the Seventeenth Century.” Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 1.1 (1995).

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    A detailed discussion of vocal technique in two important and different styles from the 17th century, including such topics as breathing, vibrato, throat articulation, and responses to musical notation. Includes useful audio examples and references to primary and secondary sources.

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  • Toft, Robert. Bel Canto: A Performer’s Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    Organized in two parts: (1) the principles of bel canto (detailed investigation of its characteristics, such as phrasing, ornamentation, rubato, vibrato, and dramatic action), and (2) examples drawn from the vocal literature (Handel, Gluck, Sarti, and Mozart).

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  • Toft, Robert. With Passionate Voice: Re-Creative Singing in Sixteenth-Century England and Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199382026.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The author’s extensive research is combined with practical guidance on the role that rhetoric and expression play in performing vocal airs by Caccini, Dowland, and others. Ancillary materials include a glossary, examples, explanation of musica ficta, and references to primary sources. A companion website (password protected) is available.

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  • Von Ramm, Andrea. “Style in Early Music Singing.” Early Music 8.1 (January 1980): 17–20.

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    A wide-ranging discussion that touches on several approaches in different genres. In secular and sacred music for the period 1150–1650, the author stresses the need for awareness of the occasion for which works were written, as well as regional factors and chronology.

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Mechanical Devices and Recordings as Documents for Performance Practice

Recordings are taken for granted today as a tool for studying early music performances. They offer an opportunity to compare different approaches as well as the sound of different instruments and ensembles performing the same work. Musicians often regret the lack of similar recorded information prior to the early 20th century, and scholars have investigated certain earlier “mechanical” inventions that were used by musicians and technicians. The earliest types of evidence, adduced in Segerman 1996, are not necessarily “mechanical,” but they demonstrate theorists’ interest in relating tempo to the human pulse and devices such as a pendulum for measuring tempo. Harris-Warrick 1982 compares evidence from the French chronometer (a type of pendulum) with existing choreographies. An early example of an automated or mechanical musical instrument is the music box, which was commonly used during the Baroque period in particular. Its recordings can be used to provide evidence of ornamentation and rhythmic conventions such as inequality, as demonstrated in Fuller 1979 and Fuller 1983. Considerable interest has been shown in recent times in studying sound recordings and changes in musical taste and performing styles in the 20th century. Brown 1991 is a representative essay comparing evidence about metronome marks as realized on modern recordings. Some studies delve into specific topics of interest to performers as in Philip 1992, and others present a broader study of trends and changes over time, as in Philip 2004.

  • Brown, Clive. “Historical Performance, Metronome Marks and Tempo in Beethoven’s Symphonies.” Early Music 19.2 (May 1991): 247–258.

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    Recounts the challenges that period instrument groups have faced in recording Beethoven’s symphonies and the evidence for original metronome marks. The Ninth Symphony is given particular attention.

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  • Fuller, David. Mechanical Musical Instruments as a Source for the Study of “Notes Inégales.” Cleveland Heights, OH: Divisions, 1979.

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    An investigation into the specific evidence that automated instruments can add to our knowledge about inequality, with examples drawn from about 1640 to 1830. Examples included on a 7” vinyl record.

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  • Fuller, David. “An Introduction to Automated Instruments.” Early Music 11.2 (April 1983): 164–166.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/11.2.164Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An overview of automated instruments and the information they can provide; especially useful for the study of ornamentation as recorded by automated instruments.

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  • Harris-Warrick, Rebecca. “The Tempo of French Baroque Dances: Evidence from 18th-Century Metronome Devices.” In Dance History Scholars: Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference, Harvard University (February 13–15, 1982). Edited by Christena L. Schlundt, 18–27. Cambridge, MA: Dance History Scholars, 1982.

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    A study of tempos based on the pendulum device called the chronometer, with comparisons between existing tempos and surviving choreographies for certain Baroque dances.

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  • Philip, Robert. Early Recordings and Musical Style: Changing Tastes in Instrumental Performance, 1900–1950. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511470271Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Organized in four parts, covering rhythm, vibrato, portamento, and implications (both 19th-century ones and for the future). Contains many references to the literature and a large discography.

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  • Philip, Robert. Performing Music in the Age of Recording. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    A broad and thought-provoking study of the changes in instrumental performance and recording practices during the 20th century, including the role of the conductor, the virtuoso soloist, and major orchestras. Includes discussion of the early music movement and trends in recording music on period instruments.

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  • Segerman, Ephraim. “A Re-examination of the Evidence on Absolute Tempo before 1700—I.” Early Music 24.2 (May 1996): 227–248.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/24.2.227Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A reconsideration of treatises of the 16th and 17th centuries with regard to proportional relationships of meters, the human pulse, and keeping time with a pendulum. Article continues in Early Music 24.4 (November 1996): 681–689.

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Issues and Controversies

The quest for “authenticity” and its corollary, seeking “composer’s intentions” in performance, was re-examined in scholarly circles in the 1980s, by which time both terms had gained wide use for marketing recorded and live performances. The selections that introduce this section on Issues and Controversies present overarching views of the goals of performance practice research in the past, as in Brown 1988 and Sadie 1991. Most of the significant issues that Sadie highlights continue to be of central interest today. Williams 1992 presents an overview that supports performance practice as an academic pursuit, and Walls 2002 presents a different perspective that puts performers at the center of the pursuit. Accompanying these studies are critical statements such as Kerman, et al. 1992; Taruskin 1982; and Taruskin 1995 that approach authenticity from various sides and offer solutions based on the considerable personal experience of the authors.

  • Brown, Howard Mayer. “Pedantry or Liberation? A Sketch of the Historical Performance Movement.” In Authenticity and Early Music. Edited by Nicholas Kenyon, 27–56. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    A broad “sketch” of how interest in early music developed, when and where it began, what questions were important, and what place a search for the “composer’s intentions” has in modern performances of early music. Documents the 1930s as the significant decade for performers’ serious interest in performing early music.

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  • Kerman, Joseph, Laurence Dreyfus, Joshua Kosman, John Rockwell, Ellen Rosand, Richard Taruskin, and Nicholas McGegan. “The Early Music Debate: Ancients, Moderns, and Postmoderns.” Journal of Musicology 10 (1992): 113–120.

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    A symposium chaired by Joseph Kerman, consisting of critics and musicologists (many of whom are also performers) who propose several arguments for and against current directions in early music performance.

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  • Sadie, Stanley. “The Idea of Authenticity.” In Companion to Baroque Music. Edited by Julie Anne Sadie, 435–445. New York: Schirmer, 1991.

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    A concise statement with far-reaching implications that not only responds to critics of “authentic” performance but also raises most of the significant issues that performers and scholars face in attempting to interpret music of the past. Originally published by J. M. Dent (London), 1990.

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  • Taruskin, Richard. “On Letting the Music Speak for Itself: Some Reflections on Musicology and Performance.” Journal of Musicology 1 (1982): 338–349.

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    An endorsement of the state of cooperation between performers and musicologists in the 1980s, with provocative comparison of objectives and reality in the quest for an understanding of historical performance.

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  • Taruskin, Richard. Text and Act: Essays on Music and Performance. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    A collection of influential essays, some previously published, that spring from the authenticity debate of the 1980s and from more recent views about the nature of a musical work. Notable for the many questions and alternative interpretations that the author raises.

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  • Walls, Peter. “Historical Performance and the Modern Performer.” In Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding. Edited by John Rink, 17–34. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511811739.003Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Addressed to modern performers, drawing on examples from the 16th to the 20th century, with explanations of the challenges of interpreting conventions of notation and stressing the importance of historical context.

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  • Williams, Peter. “Performance Practice Studies: Some Current Approaches to the Early Music Phenomenon.” In Companion to Contemporary Musical Thought. Vol. 2. Edited by John Paynter, Tim Howell, Richard Orton, and Peter Seymour, 931–947. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

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    Surveys the origins of performance practice, how views have changed over time, and possible future contributions within the field. The author endorses performance practice studies as an academic pursuit, not necessarily to be sought for practical objectives.

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The Authenticity Debate

If there is one issue that has fueled debate and re-evaluation more than any other in the field of performance practice, it may be that of authenticity. See the section on Origin and Objectives of Performance Practice for additional sources on authenticity. The core of the debate centers around two questions: Is historical accuracy possible, given what we actually know about early performances? And, should historical approaches take precedence over artistic interpretation and what “feels” right in performance? It is difficult to determine exactly how terms such as “authentic” and “original instruments” came into common use for the promotion of early music performances, but it would appear that record companies played a part in spreading the use of these terms as marketing tools. The game-changer in the scholarly world came in the form of proceedings of a conference in Kenyon 1988, which included a wide range of views on aspects of authenticity and raised new points of departure for future research. Some scholars had already drawn attention to the need to reduce the significance of authenticity as an objective, given the need for compromise, as argued in Lang 1980, and our lack of knowledge about performing conventions in earlier periods especially, as argued in Leech-Wilkinson 1984. Others such as Leppard 1988 supported a freer use of compromise in seeking the composer’s intentions. The word “intentions” is often regarded as nebulous in its meaning and therefore remains troublesome to scholars. A fresh approach was suggested in Le Huray 1990 in a group of case studies drawing on examples from various genres of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music. Such studies belong to the growing tendency of scholarly studies thereafter to look either at general trends in performance (using the term “historically informed” in place of “authentic”) or, when sufficient information is available, to concentrate on the works of a single composer within a particular genre. Rosen 2000 is an overview of the challenges a performer faces when attempting historical performance in a modern recording studio.

  • Kenyon, Nicholas, ed. Authenticity and Early Music: A Symposium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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    Essays contributed by conference speakers, with wide-ranging opinions and questions about whether authenticity is attainable, and how compromise shapes the results when performing early music.

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  • Lang, Paul Henry. “Performance Practice and Musicology.” In Musik, Edition, Interpretation: Gedenkschrift Günter Henle. Edited by Martin Bente, 314–318. Munich: Henle, 1980.

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    Offers an overview of the place of authenticity within the field of performance practice, and argues for a distinction between faithfulness to a work of art or music and historical accuracy.

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  • Le Huray, Peter. Authenticity in Performance: Eighteenth-Century Case Studies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

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    Eleven case studies demonstrate a broad array of issues about interpretation, concerning solo music, chamber music, and orchestral music from J. S. Bach to Beethoven. Useful especially for well-informed listeners and for graduate students.

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  • Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel. “What We Are Doing with Early Music Is Genuinely Authentic to Such a Small Degree That the Word Loses Most of Its Intended Meaning.” Early Music 12.1 (February 1984): 13–16.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/12.1.13Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A comparison of recordings that claim to be authentic, arguing that greater expression should be the objective, not necessarily historical compliance.

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  • Leppard, Richard. Authenticity in Music. London: Faber and Faber, 1988.

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    Explores alternatives to historical accuracy by arguing a controversial position, promoting compromise as well as seeking what composers attempted to do without trying to reproduce what they did.

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  • Rosen, Charles. “The Benefits of Authenticity.” In Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New. By Charles Rosen, 201–221. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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    Originally a review of Kenyon 1988, this essay also examines the importance of recordings and the many special challenges that they present for historical performance.

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Vibrato

Vibrato is a technique highly valued for its expressive qualities and used pervasively on many modern instruments and voices. Performers who turn to historically informed performance have often found it difficult to alter their techniques in order to use less vibrato or, in some repertories, none at all. Yet, historical evidence stands in favor of relatively little use of vibrato, except occasionally for expressive nuance on certain important notes in most music composed before about 1920. The literature on vibrato is extensive, and given the vehemence of the controversy over interpretation of the primary sources, it is not surprising that critical positions have become firmly entrenched. The sources selected for inclusion here represent a cross-section of opinions and evidence from scholars and performers, who sometimes reach different conclusions based on similar evidence. A particularly comprehensive overview, using many primary sources, is Moens-Haenen 1988. Gable 1992 also provides an overview of scholarship on vibrato for both instruments and voice. Schröder, et al. 1979 gives both practical and historical advice from the point of view of two outstanding performers. Neumann 1991 expresses a minority opinion that vibrato was used much more than is generally agreed, to which Zaslaw 1991 replies. Walls 1992 investigates Mozart’s practice specifically and demonstrates how useful it can be to investigate the practice of a single composer. Freitas 2002 and Brown 1988 take the argument into the 19th century and argue convincingly that for both instrumental music and the voice, vibrato continued to be regarded as an ornament and was not used pervasively until the 20th century.

  • Brown, Clive. “Bowing Styles, Vibrato and Portamento in Nineteenth-Century Violin Playing.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 113.1 (1988): 97–128.

    DOI: 10.1093/jrma/113.1.97Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The author traces the history of bowing in the 19th century and compares it with the history of vibrato, which he finds to be a simpler (though not less controversial) topic. Constant vibrato is seen as a recent phenomenon, still not fully accepted as late as 1920. Contains examples and many quotations from relevant treatises.

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  • Freitas, Roger. “Towards a Verdian Ideal of Singing: Emancipation from Modern Orthodoxy.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 127.2 (2002): 226–257.

    DOI: 10.1093/jrma/127.2.226Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A consideration of a specific nature investigating Verdi’s views on singing, including vibrato, as well as contemporaneous theoretical advice. Valuable also in a larger sense for its many comparisons with modern singing and many references to the secondary literature that reveal a wider perspective.

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  • Gable, Frederick Kent. “Some Observations Concerning Baroque and Modern Vibrato.” Performance Practice Review 5.1 (1992): 90–102.

    DOI: 10.5642/perfpr.199205.01.09Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A consideration of a few core questions about vibrato, such as pitch fluctuation, vocal vibrato, violin vibrato, and vibrato in choral ensembles. The author includes observations and critical views about other scholarly work on vibrato, with many references to the secondary literature. Available online.

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  • Moens-Haenen, Greta. Das Vibrato in der Musik des Barock: Ein Handbuch zur Aufführungspraxis für Vokalisten und Instrumentalisten. Graz, Austria: Akademische Drunk-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1988.

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    Organized in two parts: the technique of vibrato (including tremolo and the tremulant organ stop), and its interpretation. Includes many quotes from treatises, lists of signs for vibrato and sources in which they are found, a glossary, and a substantial bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. “The Vibrato Controversy.” Performance Practice Review 4.1 (1991). Article 3.

    DOI: 10.5642/perfpr.199104.01.3Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An argument that proposes that vibrato was used during the 18th century much more commonly than modern scholars have admitted. Available online.

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  • Schröder, Jaap, Christopher Hogwood, and Clare Almond. “The Developing Violin.” Early Music 7.2 (April 1979): 155–165.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/7.2.155Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An interview with Clare Almond, in which each of the two well-known performers (a violinist and a harpsichordist/conductor) explains his views, and the theoretical basis for them, about a number of issues related to violin playing, including vibrato. Useful for its combination of historical evidence mixed with practical advice for players today.

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  • Walls, Peter. “Mozart and the Violin.” Early Music 20.1 (February 1992): 7–29.

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    A detailed exploration of many aspects of violin technique, including vibrato, as Mozart and his father viewed and practiced them.

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  • Zaslaw, Neal. “Vibrato in Eighteenth Century Orchestras.” Performance Practice Review 4.1 (1991). Article 4.

    DOI: 10.5642/perfpr.199104.01.4Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The author presents a rebuttal to Neumann 1991 with evidence to suggest that ripieno violinists rarely used vibrato and that, when it was employed, it was used sparingly and only by soloists. Available online.

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Pitch and Temperament

That pitch standards varied considerably from place to place, even within a given city, and in all historical settings has been recognized by scholars and editors of early music since at least the early 20th century. However, determining what the pitch standards were at various times and especially the way that specific works were heard has proven challenging to modern scholarship, to say the least. Arthur Mendel’s pioneering work in the 1960s brought attention to techniques for measuring pitch on surviving instruments (mainly organs), and his work has been greatly expanded in more recent times in Haynes 2002, whose data on pitch include woodwinds as well as keyboard instruments. Most other research on pitch deals with specific repertories, instruments, or composers’ works, of which Berney 2006 is a useful example. More controversial is the question of what temperaments may be appropriate for a given work and what temperaments work well for certain instruments. A great deal of choice was left to performers in most periods of musical history, a concept that is challenging for many classically-trained musicians, who have been educated in a musical environment that operates primarily within equal temperament. The scholarly position has been comprehensively investigated in Rasch 2002 and Steblin 2002. Duffin 2007 presents evidence in favor of schemes other than equal temperament too, emphasizing the benefit to the sound of early music when historical temperaments are used. Barnes 1979 argues for an unequal temperament in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier based on musical as well as historical evidence. Much of the secondary literature addresses keyboard temperaments, but Lindley 1984 provides a wealth of information on how equal temperament and other schemes were used on fretted instruments, and Haynes 1991 explores temperaments and intonation for wind players and singers.

  • Barnes, John. “Bach’s Keyboard Temperament: Internal Evidence from the Well-Tempered Clavier.” Early Music 7.2 (April 1979): 236–249.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/7.2.236Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A consideration of musical evidence as well as historical and theoretical evidence in favor of a temperament similar to Werckmeister III for Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Both objective and subjective types of analysis are brought to bear on the question.

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  • Berney, Boaz. “The Renaissance Flute in Mixed Ensembles: Surviving Instruments, Pitches, and Performance Practice.” Early Music 34.2 (May 2006): 205–223.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/cah201Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An examination of early-17th-century German music in which the Renaissance flute was used. Possible hypotheses such as transposition or using higher-pitched flutes are explored, within the general assumption that pitch was related to the function of the music.

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  • Duffin, Ross. How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care). New York and London: Norton, 2007.

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    An accessible guide that explores myths about equal temperament; includes references to treatises and musical examples, and provides an overarching view of why temperament matters for both modern and period performers.

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  • Haynes, Bruce. “Beyond Temperament: Non-Keyboard Intonation in the 17th and 18th Centuries.” Early Music 19.3 (August 1991): 356–381.

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    An important view of temperament and tuning from the orchestral player’s and singer’s point of view, illustrated with historical evidence and drawing contrasts between a closed tuning system such as that for keyboards and open systems for non-keyboard instruments.

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  • Haynes, Bruce. A History of Performing Pitch: The Story of “A.” Lanham, MD, and Oxford: Scarecrow, 2002.

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    Comprehensive compilation and explanation of data related to pitch standards in use from 1500 to 2000, subdivided into geographical locations, individual cities, sacred and secular practices, and special consideration for pitch in the works of J. S. Bach.

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  • Lindley, Mark. Lutes, Viols and Temperaments. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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    A survey of how equal temperament and other schemes were used on fretted instruments from about 1570 to the middle of the 18th century. Well-documented, with chapters devoted to meantone, Pythagorean, equal, and other temperaments. Appendices include explanations of tablature notation and examples from the keyboard literature. Useful bibliography of primary sources.

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  • Rasch, Rudolf. “Tuning and Temperament.” In The Cambridge History of Western Theory. Edited by Thomas Christensen, 193–202. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521623711.009Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Detailed investigation from a theoretical standpoint into twelve systems of tuning from the 16th to the 18th century, including Pythagorean (Glarean, 1547), Concentric tuning (Werckmeister, 1691), Marpurg and Kirnberger (18th century). Includes a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

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  • Steblin, Rita. A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 2002.

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    Broad coverage of the theory of key character, modes, and affects, mainly from French and German theorists. The second edition includes new material on 19th-century sources, including Glőggl (1828), Gräffer (1830), and Herloßsohn (1839). First published in 1983.

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Ornamentation

Within the vast literature on performance practice, the topic of ornamentation ranks near the top for the great interest shown in it on the part of both scholars and performers. Within the topic of ornamentation, scholarly studies are often divided into two categories: those that deal with written ornaments, and those that deal with unwritten (improvised) ornamentation. Both types of ornament were considered essential in most eras and for most types of music. Secondary sources provide a wealth of opportunities for performers and researchers to delve into interpretive issues, and one quickly learns that, rather than encountering difficulty because of lack of information, in this particular area, it is more a question of having too much information. The few sources selected for inclusion here represent two major types of guides within the secondary literature: those that are accessible for performers but still offer a solid scholarly foundation, and comprehensive treatments of the subject with copious examples and references to primary sources. Brown 1976 and Fuller 1990 are examples of the first type for Renaissance and Baroque music, respectively; both are lucid and dependable guides that offer a solid foundation for players and singers. Neumann 1978 and Neumann 1986 treat ornamentation in Bach’s music and Mozart’s music, respectively, in a comprehensive and detailed manner, with emphasis on written ornamentation but also with some attention to free ornamentation. Studies on ornamentation in the works of a single composer are too numerous to mention here, but an important study of a neglected area of instrumental ornamentation is surveyed in Spitzer and Zaslaw 1986, demonstrating that under some circumstances players did ornament in ensembles despite warnings to the contrary from theorists. Mather and Lasoki 1976 is a useful guide for wind players (and other musicians) for learning how to improvise ornaments in solo music from the Baroque to Romantic eras.

  • Brown, Howard Mayer. Embellishing Sixteenth-Century Music. London: Oxford University Press, 1976.

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    A practical guide for instrumentalists and singers on improvising ornamentation in 16th-century music, with references to historical treatises for additional background.

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  • Fuller, David. “Ornamentation.” In Companion to Baroque Music. Edited by Julie Anne Sadie, 417–434. New York: Schirmer, 1990.

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    An overview of the types and characteristics of Baroque ornamentation, both written and improvised, citing significant treatises and offering practical guidance to performers.

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  • Mather, Betty Bang, and David Lasoki. Free Ornamentation in Woodwind Music, 1700–1775: An Anthology with Introduction. New York: McGinnis and Marx, 1976.

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    Includes numerous examples of written-out ornamentation for woodwind instruments from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods. Especially useful for performers.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. Ornamentation in Baroque and Post-Baroque Music with Special Emphasis on J. S. Bach. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

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    A comprehensive treatment of Baroque ornamentation, organized in chapters devoted to each of the ornaments usually found in Bach’s music. The discussion is framed by chapters that treat Baroque ornamentation more generally (summarizing French, German, and Italian practice) and a final chapter on free ornamentation. Includes an extensive glossary of symbols and bibliography.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. Ornamentation and Improvisation in Mozart. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

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    Wide-ranging investigation of written and improvised ornamentation in Mozart’s music, with many examples and evidence from contemporary treatises. Organized in chapters devoted to each type of ornament (trill, grace note, appoggiatura, etc.), cadenzas, and free ornamentation, with many illustrations from vocal and instrumental music.

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  • Spitzer, John, and Neal Zaslaw. “Improvised Ornamentation in Eighteenth-Century Orchestras.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 39.3 (Autumn 1986): 524–577.

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    Drawing on extensive evidence from German treatises of the 18th century, the authors trace what types of ornaments were improvised in orchestral situations, under what circumstances, and by whom. Comparisons are also made among similar practices in England, France, and Italy.

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Inequality and Overdotting

The interpretation of notated rhythmic values has been one of the most controversial topics in performance practice since the early 20th century. Much of the literature concerns Baroque practices, where there are many treatises and other original sources to assist in interpreting musical scores, but issues of rhythmic interpretation arise in other periods too. The secondary sources selected for inclusion here concern two vigorously debated issues: how and where inequality was used, and where overdotting was applied, especially with reference to the French overture. Much of the controversy in each case arises from the question of whether a specifically French practice was known and used outside of France during the Baroque era. Dirst 1997 broadens the issue of French overture style by considering to what extent French music gained favor in German-speaking lands. Pont 2007 traces the absorption of French dotting practice in the French overture as it was transmitted to England and Handel’s music. The most active debate has taken place around inequality: how pronounced the long-short interpretations were, and when and where inequality was used. Neumann 1977 argues for a limited application of inequality based on examination of evidence from treatises, and Fuller 1977 takes a broader interpretation of similar evidence. Neumann 1988 recants some of his own earlier statements in his rebuttal to Fuller’s work, but remains firm in his belief that inequality was not practiced outside of France. Hefling 1993 is a major study of both inequality and overdotting based on in-depth study of historical sources, with many interpretive suggestions offered. As such, it is useful for both scholars and performers.

  • Dirst, Matthew. “Bach’s French Overtures and the Politics of Overdotting.” Early Music 25.1 (February 1997): 35–44.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/25.1.35Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A reconsideration of overdotting in Bach’s B Minor Overture for harpsichord, with references to most of the previous scholarly debate on the matter, and a close examination of the sources with reference to Bach’s supposed intentions and final thoughts.

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  • Fuller, David. “Dotting, the ‘French Style’ and Frederick Neumann’s Counter-Reformation.” Early Music 5.4 (October 1977): 517–543.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/5.4.517Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A response to Neumann 1977, citing specific evidence as well as previous scholarly work on the subject. Includes practical advice for playing dotted figures in French music with observations about character and expression that can assist one in finding an appropriate manner of performing in the French style.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E. Rhythmic Alteration in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Music: Notes Inégales and Overdotting. New York: Schirmer, 1993.

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    Organized in two parts: (1) notes inégales, and (2) overdotting, covering the period from about 1690 to the end of the 18th century. One chapter is devoted to inequality outside France, a topic which is less documented in theoretical sources. Evidence for overdotting from Quantz and numerous interpretive suggestions are offered.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. “The Dotted Note and the So-Called French Style.” Early Music 5.3 (March 1977): 310–324.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/5.3.310Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Traces the origin of modern interest in inequality to Arnold Dolmetsch and, after surveying works by French and German composers, the author concludes that the so-called French style of overdotting has been greatly exaggerated in modern times. Translated by Raymond Harris and Edmund Shay. First appeared in French as “La note pointée et la soi-disant ‘manière française,’” in Revue de Musicologie 51.1 (1965): 66–92.

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  • Neumann, Frederick. “The Notes inégales Revisited.” Journal of Musicology 6.2 (Spring 1988): 137–149.

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    A reply to Fuller 1977 that concentrates largely on the question of whether inequality was used outside of France. Neumann adduces evidence that it was not, although he acknowledges that Fuller presents evidence to argue that it was known and used elsewhere.

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  • Pont, Graham. “French Overtures at the Keyboard: The Handel Tradition.” Early Music 35.2 (May 2007): 271–288.

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    The author traces Handelian practice with regard to dotting by studying Handel’s autograph scores, those of his students, and others who can be shown to have a direct connection to the composer. A theory of variability in dotting practice is proposed, and the line of teacher to student is followed for several generations.

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Fingering (Keyboard)

There are many primary sources—treatises and manuscripts with notated fingerings—that provide evidence about early keyboard fingering. The differences between practices over time and in different geographical locations can be significant, and the wealth of information that survives proves challenging for anyone who wishes to do research in this area. Although there is general agreement among scholars that historical fingerings affected articulation and phrasing, the extent to which they did so remains controversial. A selection of various points of view and issues that arise in different historical periods is included in this section. Lindley 1989 provides a broad and informative overview of the topic, and Lindley 1994 is a study of a specific repertory directed to performers. Also intended as a guide to performers is Lindley and Boxall 1992, which includes many complete pieces with fingerings covering the period from 1600 to the early 19th century. The extensive bibliography in Lindley 1985 includes many manuscript sources. Brauchli 1992 explores the topic from an iconographical perspective, and Newman 1982 offers ideas about interpretation in Beethoven based on existing fingerings. Swinkin 2007 takes another approach for performers by contrasting historical and modern approaches to fingering.

  • Brauchli, Bernard. “Aspects of Early Keyboard Technique: Hand and Finger Positions, as Seen in Early Treatises and Iconographical Documents.” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 18 (1992): 62–102.

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    Surveys evidence from treatises and visual images for the period 1400 to 1800 that offers information about players’ hand and finger position at the keyboard. Article continues in Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 20 (1994): 90–110.

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  • Lindley, Mark. “Early Keyboard Techniques: A Selected Bibliography.” English Harpsichord Magazine and Early Keyboard Instrument Review 3 (April 1985): 155–161.

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    Extensive list of primary and secondary sources related to organ and harpsichord technique, including manuscript and printed sources (16th to 18th centuries), treatises, and secondary sources.

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  • Lindley, Mark. “Keyboard Fingering and Articulation.” In Performance Practice. Vol. 2, Music after 1600. Edited by Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie, 186–209. New York and London: Norton, 1989.

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    Broad coverage of theoretical advice on fingering from 1550 to the early 19th century, divided according to geographical locations and composer. Musical examples and images of hand positions are included, along with many additional references.

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  • Lindley, Mark. “Renaissance Keyboard Fingering.” In A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music. Edited by Jeffery Kite-Powell, 189–199. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

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    A guide to using 16th-century keyboard fingerings and their effect on articulation and rhythmic inflection.

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  • Lindley, Mark, and Maria Boxall. Early Keyboard Fingerings: A Comprehensive Guide. New York and London: Schott, 1992.

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    Organized in two parts, the first including fourteen easy pieces revised from the authors’ 1982 collections (Early Keyboard Fingerings: An Anthology [London: Schott]), and with more difficult pieces in the second part. A useful commentary on each piece and a historical overview are included, as is an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources on keyboard fingering.

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  • Newman, William S. “Beethoven’s Fingerings as Interpretive Clues.” Journal of Musicology 1.2 (April 1982): 171–197.

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    An examination of Beethoven’s fingerings in both keyboard and string works as evidence of articulation, realizing ornaments, shaping of phrases, and tone color.

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  • Swinkin, Jeffrey. “Keyboard Fingering and Interpretation: A Comparison of Historical and Modern Approaches.” Performance Practice Review 12.1 (2007). Article 1.

    DOI: 10.5642/perfpr.200712.01.01Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A comparison of objectives of fingerings in early and modern keyboard music, the former associated with phrasing and articulation, and the latter (“modern” defined here as Czerny and later), with reference to what was kept from earlier practice and what new aesthetic principles arose in the 19th century. Available online.

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The Size of Bach’s Chorus

Although there are several examples of recent controversies that center around what performing forces are appropriate for a given repertory, none has been more vigorously debated than the question of the performing forces that Bach used in his cantatas and Passions. From its early stages, the debate encompassed a close study of Bach’s manuscripts, archival and historical evidence, as well as practical application of new proposals in live and recorded performances. This controversy therefore became well-known beyond musicological circles and has had significant repercussions for conductors, singers, scholars, and listeners. The debate commenced in the early 1980s with the new proposals in Rifkin 1982 and Rifkin 1983 that Bach used solo singers, not a choir, for his cantatas and Passions. Rifkin demonstrated that on certain occasions ripienists were added to the concertists, for a total of eight singers. The evidence for this proposal was refuted in Marshall 1983, which maintained that Bach’s ideal choir was at least twelve voices. Subsequent contributions to the debate were sharply divided between these two positions. Butt 1998 accepts Rifkin’s evidence and argues further that Bach’s scoring expressed aspects of the Lutheran liturgy. Andrew Parrott, like Rifkin, brings practical experience of conducting and recording Bach’s vocal music to the question. Parrott 1997 states his position in support of solo singers, and in the culminating Parrott 2000, the author adduces further evidence to support that position. An extensive bibliography in the latter work provides further references to other contributions to the controversy.

  • Butt, John. “Bach’s Vocal Scoring: What Can It Mean?” Early Music 26.1 (February 1998): 99–107.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/26.1.99Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Evidence is drawn from Bach’s Passions to suggest that Bach used scoring to highlight certain aspects of Lutheran faith and textual meaning. The author supports Rifkin’s views with additional evidence drawn from surviving vocal parts.

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  • Marshall, Robert L. “Bach’s Chorus: A Preliminary Reply to Joshua Rifkin.” The Musical Times 124 (January 1983): 19–22.

    DOI: 10.2307/963884Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A rebuttal of Rifkin’s views citing Bach’s memorandum (Entwurff) stating that twelve singers are needed and including comments on individual works by Bach and his practice of using ripienists.

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  • Parrott, Andrew. “Bach’s Chorus: Who Cares?” Early Music 25.2 (May 1997): 297–300.

    DOI: 10.1093/em/25.2.297Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An endorsement of Rifkin’s argument that soloists sang the choral portions in certain works by Bach, and that ripienists were used relatively infrequently. The author suggests that in cases where ripienists are used, their presence adds to the musical effect by clarifying the musical structure.

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  • Parrott, Andrew. The Essential Bach Choir. Woodbridge, UK, and Rochester, NY: Boydell, 2000.

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    Drawing on a large array of theoretical, musical, iconographical, and archival documents, the author weighs arguments on both sides of the issue of soloists versus a choir in many of Bach’s works and makes a solid case for one singer per part, very occasionally supplemented by one additional singer on each part.

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  • Rifkin, Joshua. “Bach’s Chorus: A Preliminary Report.” The Musical Times 123 (November 1982): 747–754.

    DOI: 10.2307/961592Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An explanation of how performing parts were shared by instrumentalists but not vocalists, before 1750, and evidence for the use of concertists and ripienists in certain works by Schütz, J. S. Bach, and Haydn. Historical evidence and Bach’s autograph manuscripts offer evidence that at times he used eight singers in his choir. A broad group of cantatas, Passions, and the B Minor Mass is discussed.

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  • Rifkin, Joshua. “Bach’s Chorus: A Response to Robert Marshall.” The Musical Times 124 (March 1983): 161–162.

    DOI: 10.2307/963824Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The author raises specific points of disagreement between the two views, citing his own position and detailing some perceived fallacies in logic and lack of evidence on the opposing side.

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