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With Voice and PenComing to Know Medieval Song and How it Was Made$
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Leo Treitler

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199214761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199214761.001.0001

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‘Peripheral’ and ‘Central’

‘Peripheral’ and ‘Central’

(p.84) CHAPTER 4 ‘Peripheral’ and ‘Central’
With Voice and Pen

Leo Treitler

Oxford University Press

The problem of establishing a musical text is encountered each time we wish to prepare a medieval piece for performance or study. This problem is raised by variation in the transmission of musical items from one source to another. Usually those problems have been discussed in peripheral compartments of publications: footnotes, prefaces, appendices, etc. This chapter moves the issues to the forefront and asks ‘What does it mean that the editorial problem exists?’. Considering this question means going behind methods of text criticism, to the conceptions on which the idea of text criticism in the domain of medieval music has been based: that the pieces with which we deal are the products of an act of composition (in the modern sense) or redaction; that it is the understanding of composers that they should normally remain fixed; and that variants arise either through revision or through error (corruption). These conceptions refer to a certain relation between musical production and transmission that has prevailed for a long time in the Western tradition.

Keywords:   medieval music, musical text, text criticism, performance, editorial problem

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