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The End of Early MusicA Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-First Century$
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Bruce Haynes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189872.001.0001

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Changing Meanings, Permanent Symbols

Changing Meanings, Permanent Symbols

Chapter:
(p.102) 6 Changing Meanings, Permanent Symbols
Source:
The End of Early Music
Author(s):

Bruce Haynes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189872.003.06

Most music in the world is communicated orally from musician to musician (that is, by ear). Western concert music is exceptional in depending on writing for transmission. If most classical musicians cannot play by ear and need a written page in front of them, the page itself takes on importance. Thus the way music is written down and the way we understand the writing have an important effect on the music that results. The issues of what was intended by the writing and what should be read back out of it become central to our musicking. Over time, however, the meaning of written musical symbols has gradually shifted. This chapter examines how the writing and reading of music has changed in fundamental ways, especially around 1800. It discusses descriptive notation and prescriptive notation, the incomplete musical score, written music's oral element, the essential in rhetorical music, implicit notation, Strait style and the neutral “run-through” style of music versus interpretation, and composer-intention before the Romantic period.

Keywords:   meanings, musical symbols, descriptive notation, prescriptive notation, musical score, rhetorical music, Strait style, interpretation, composer-intention

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