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History of Music Researching and writing programme notes Philip Shields January 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "History of Music Researching and writing programme notes Philip Shields January 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 History of Music Researching and writing programme notes Philip Shields January 2013

2 Nature and purpose of programme notes Should be seen as essential part of concert preparation and an integral part of the recital Provide background information on work(s) and composer(s). Generally includes: Brief biographical information Historical context of work and genre Description of the work itself (possibly analytical but not too hard-core!) For vocal works: texts & translations of any songs or Lieder

3 Nature and purpose of programme notes (2) May also include: Reception history of work Performance history of work A well-chosen relevant quote from the composers or their contemporaries can be highly effective

4 Writing style Not necessarily overly academic, but still needs to be authoritative, based on reliable sources (which should be acknowledged if quoted from, but full footnoting is not required). Your approach to research will be the same as for essays While the language used may be more informal than academic writing, it should not be colloquial, slangy or too intrusively subjective Strike a balance: not overly technical (too dry and hard to assimilate for general readers), but not too flowery or fanciful either! Above all, keep the readers interest: programme notes are read in half-lit halls in the context of a live performance Be concise! The main purpose of programme notes is to communicate effectively essential information to non-specialist readers

5 Information sources (1) Biographical Information: Grove online ; composer biographies ; contemporary composers own websites. National music information centres for various countries (e.g. for Ireland; Style and historical context: general histories (Grout, Palisca, Bukofzer – also volumes on specific genres, e.g. H. Smither History of the oratorio) Individual works: This can be the most problematic information to find. Sources can include: Composer biographies, or books on a composers genre e.g. Lester Bachs works for solo violinBachs works for solo violin CD liner notes (evaluate these sources critically) Naxos Music Library – scanned liner notes in PDF (also not to be used uncritically) Some record companies (e.g. Hyperion) websites have their liner notes online

6 Information sources (2) Individual works (cont.): some more recent and scholarly music editions from Peters and Wiener Urtext can have excellent information in the preface: e.g. Nichols edition of Ravels Gaspard de la nuit Songs and lieder: texts and translations in reference works, e.g. Eric Sams The songs of Hugo Wolf; also online at (the Song and Lieder Text page) Reception history of composers: changing attitudes over time to a composer or work can be revealed by older editions of a standard work, e.g. Master Musician series, or Groves Dictionary (we have all 7 editions ranging from !)

7 Information sources (3) Dictionaries of quotations: An encyclopedia of quotations about music ed. Nat Shapiro (London: David & Charles, 1978); The Wordsworth dictionary of musical quotations, ed. Derek Watson (Ware: Wordsworth Reference, 1991)An encyclopedia of quotations about musicThe Wordsworth dictionary of musical quotations Guides to programme note writing Associated Board: Nigel Scaife, Writing programme notes: a guide for diploma candidates: a must-read. Available online Available online Other guides: Type guide to writing programme notes into google. Look for sites ending (US and UK university sites)google General writing guides: Richard Wingell Writing about music (New Jersey, 2002) – has a section on programme note writing p Writing about music

8 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 Find books on Bachs Partitas Narrow search to Books Note: Truncation marker $ - finds partita, partitas etc not violin – the not filters out irrelevant terms (so excludes writings on Bachs Violin partitas)

9 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV results – 2 relevant.

10 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 Alternatively, do broader search on Bachs keyboard music

11 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 Broader search: 16 results – 9 possible relevant

12 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 Search for recordings in the library (could contain useful liner notes or sleeve notes). Note: the search below excludes the organ, flute, violin partitas. Sort by: New to old – Brings the most recent recordings to the top of the list

13 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 Naxos Music Library – contains scanned liner notes in PDF for Naxoss own label recordings. Note: Naxos Music Library indexes every track on each recording, so you can always search for the specific work Include the term naxos in the search so you only retrieve Naxos own label recordings (most of the others labels do not have CD lines notes in PDF format)

14 Example – Research Bachs Partita no. 4 BWV 828 A good source is online liner notes from record companies – e.g. Hyperion, where the notes are often written by established scholars/ performers (e.g. Mervyn Cooke, Graham Johnson, Angela Hewitt)

15 Other examples – Schubert Gretchen am Spinnrade Hyperion has complete Schubert song edition with excellent and detailed notes on each by Graham Johnson. Text and reliable translations also available in the scanned PDF booklet.

16 Internet sources: general principles of evaluation Authority Is there an author? Is the article/page signed? Authors qualifications and credentials? Is the page from an organisation with established reputation (e.g. For an online journal: is the journal peer-reviewed? Currency Check copyright date, if available, at the end of the article Look at Page last updated info. if available Links still current? (Broken links are a sign the page is outdated)

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