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(2) Critique: Strato-Bandora / Unplayable Notation

Ophee & the Strato-Bandora
Examples I-III

Example I. Long Pavan for Bandora

In his letter Matanya alleges that I had "arbitrarily decide[d] NOT to do guitar versions of the bandora pieces."  This is simply incorrect.  I had discussed the matter with him in Ward's presence, and Ward expressed no objections at the time.  Because Ward had given me an incorrect tuning for bandora, I could see no way to do the "fret-to-fret" transcription we had agreed upon, and we decided mutually to omit the bandora pieces in the guitar volume.  I even suggested that we consult with Lyle Nordstrom, but my suggestion was vetoed. Besides the bandora is a bass instrument, the guitar a tenor one.

Accordingly Matanya supplied the "bandora" pieces, and in so doing made numerous stupid mistakes in notation, which I pointed out to him. (Several pieces were included with the Open Letter, but omitted from the on-line version.)  ALL of the mistakes (cited here and originally back in November 1992) remain in the published edition.  Unbelieveable!

Referring to the items cited in parens in Musical Example I, below:
(Note 1)
Matanya Ophee claims (Open Letter, January 19, 1993):
I looked up Ian Harwood's article in the New Grove.  According to this . . . no sane guitarist would use such a scordatura.  This would require raising the pitch of the 6th string by a minor third. I will either break . . . The perfect example of that folly is Ruggiero Chiesa's transcriptions of Bescianello's colascione [sic] music . . .
Utter nonsense. The instruments are not the same. Since Johnson uses a seven course bandora, and Matanya cites the tuning for a six-courses "colascione" (gallichone, aka calichone). So his objections are invalid.** (See the tuning example.) The guitar and bandora are tuned  almost exactly with the same intervals, as I show below. And are both notated an octave higher than they sound.) The seventh course is often used open, so even that would cause players little difficulty.  But even then, the guitar would not match the bass pitch of the bandora.
**The "Brescianello colascione music" to which Matanya makes reference is for the gallichon. The colascione is an entirely different instrument, a folk instrument, favored by commedia dell'arte players. Chiesa is confused on a number of points.
The sonatas with VI tuned up to G are usually played on guitar with the VIth string being strung with an A string. Matanya's remarks about Chiesa's "Folly," are totally invalid. He just doesn't often think things through as a musician woud do automatically. The recitalist brings two instruments.  The sonatas make delightful recital openers, and I've heard them used as such.

Tuning Example


I had devised a computer program that made draft transcriptions, converting the guitar part directly from Ward's authorized grand staff lute transcriptions.  To convert the lute in G to the guitar in E (sounding an octave lower) , the program transposed the lute part a sixth higher.
What happened here is Matanya ran the grand staff transcriptions for bandora through my program as if they were for lute. (He hasn't the slightest idea of how to approach the question of making guitar transcrptions of bandora music.) And that's why we have the strato-bandora, with dozens of notes in the octave above the guitar's open E string (three ledger lines; fret "m" on lute--Johnson used a note that high  only three or four times in his entire output). 
What Matanya missed was an instructive footnote, right there at the bottom of the page.  It reads, marked with an asterisk, as follows: 
*The bandora part is to be read an octave lower. Tuning: G c d g c' e' a'  
The bandora is a bass instrument! The bandora's top string being a nominal A below middle C.  Matanya's transcription is an octave and a sixth higher.
To make a guitar transcrption, Matanya needed to fit the bandora music to the guitar.
I pointed this out as well as the many other mistakes in this one piece soon after I received the pages in November 1993. Matanya refused to correct anything. Anything!  And made bizarre excuses to explain away his silly mistakes.
(Note 2)
In the guitar volume, pieces in triple meter were reduced in note value from 3/2 to 3/4, because Matanya felt his customers would resist buying pieces in 3/2 meter.  (His reasoning is naive,

the many students ... would use this edition as their introduction to Elizabethan lute music...

Johnson's music requires the skills of a virtuoso player. Just thinking about John Johnson causes players like Paul O'Dette to blanch.)

Neither Ward nor I were pleased, but we acquiesced.  But the pieces in duple or quadruple would remain with the note values unreduced, except each 4/2 would be divided into two 2/2 measures, as here. (Having one set of pieces without reduction, and another with 2:1 reduction confuses the metrical relationshiops between pavan and galliard. We should have refused his request.  Why cater to guitar players who can't play in 3/2 meter?  They're unlikely customers, in any case.)
But this was not to be. Without consulting with us, Matanya improperly changed all the 2/2 and alla breve meter signs to 4/4 introducing what my M. Lurie would call pavans "the funereal mode." Thus a piece with two steps per measure became one with four steps.  These changes are misrepresented in the preface. where this totally false statement appears (page x):
the note values have been halved for most of the pieces (i.e. 4/2, 3/2 and 6/4 bars changed to 4/4, 3/4 and 6/8). ...
The note values from the meters in 4/2 are NOT reduced by Ophee.
This would effect the tempo, since using typical pavan tempo, it would be twice too slow. Experienced players would think the note values had been reduced 2:1, as Matanya falsely claims in the preface. (One reviewer was even duped by the deception.)
(Note 3)
Accidentals are missing, as here, but also in measures 11.5, 32.5. 
(Note 4)
The B is a mistake in engraving.  It is a stemless half note, not a proper whole note. Same mistake in measure 44.0, and elsewhere.


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(Note 5)
Matanya frequently leaves out rests causing mistakes in the notation of rhythm, as here in meas. 16.5, where it becomes a 3/2 measure, but must be 2/2 (not 4/4). Also measures 43.5, and 44.5 have the same mistake in rhythm. Matanya claimed the rests were unnecessary, since the player would "imagine" a rest to be there.  See also Example M, (4) Critique: More Examples (Examples A-L)


There are similar mistakes elsewhere (just a few here):
  • No. 2/31
  • No. 4/8. 30
  • No. 5/12.0 vs. 16.0
  • No. 6/meas. 7.5,
  • No. 10/40.0, 44.0
  • No. 11/23
  • No. 12B/16.5, 36.5, 48.5
  • No. 14/9.5, 11.5, 24.5, 30.5 
  • No. 16/4,
  • No. 29/26.5 & 37.0,
  • p. 87/ meas. 6 & 9,
  • App. 3/12, etc.

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(Note 6)
Here the stems go in the wrong direction. It's notational gibberish.


There's even more gibberish elsewhere:
  • No. 3/ meas. 20,
  • No. 4/8 & 30,
  • No. 6/7.5 (Gt. 2),
  • No. 7/17,
  • No. 9/46 (Gt. 1),
  • No. 13/20,
  • No. 14/8.5 & 11.5,
  • No. 15A/24.5,
  • No. 15B/15.5, 23.0-24.5,
  • No. 17/4,
  • No. 26B/11,
  • No. 27A/68,
  • No. 30/31,
  • No. 34/24.5, p. 88/meas. 6, 12, 22, 23 & 25, et cetera.

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(Note 7)
The dots for dotted notes are missing in meas. 21, 22, 23 and 31.  Matanya has trouble with dots, throughout his work.  Not just here.  See Chil[esotti] Ex 1-2
(Note 8)
Voice-leading is often wrong,  unnecessarily. Why is the B all by itself here?


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No. 12B and others were attached to the first version of the letter. Ophee is being untruthful when he writes,
The samples attached herewith, have not yet been seen by Arthur.
He sent them to me in November 1993. I still have them with the  handwritten notation in all caps, "PER JOHN'S REQUEST." Adding at the bottom, "WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS."
I was appalled at what I saw, especially all the mistakes, most of which would shame a five-year-old.   And I gently, so as not to hurt his feelings, told him so in November 1993. 
I couldn't believe what I was hearing from this self-styled big shot music editor and publisher. Self proclaimed
 "world's leading authority on guitar notation."
The mistakes I pointed out are all there in the printed volume. The explanations were bizarre.  And he included the pieces with all the mistakes in all the copies he distributed of the "Open Letter to Paul O'Dette."  (But leaves them off his web site.) 
According to Matanya, it is OK to leave out the rests because
"the players will imagine the rests to be there.
As for the missing accidentals, 
 "the players would use their musicianship to determine what the correct notes would be." 
This incredible belief about notation, that is, you tell what the accidentals are by the FINGERINGS! According to a message Matanya posted to RMCG on October 4, 2005, Pujol favors this approach.
. . . [A]ny half-educated musician would know instantly that the harmonic sequence requires the G to be a G#, even though there is no accidental there.  Pujol did not think an accidental was required because he assumed that the book [a guitar tutor (for beginners?)] would be used by musicians, not by musical illiterates.  The detailed fingering confirms this.
Bizarre! Unbelievable!  But this type of thinking was what I faced.  I guess, judging from what Matanya wrote, he, Pujol and their ilk don't like to spoon-feed novice guitarists with accidentals and rests.  I always wondered about those over-fingered editions. They're for players who read the fingerings, not the notes.
As for the change of meter, he demanded to know who M. Lurie was.  And threatened to beat me up if I didn't tell him. 
All of the mistakes, and maybe 200 more, remain uncorrected in the edition.
As I show in the musical examples, Ophee would rather publish mistakes than admit he might be wrong.  And displayed his ignorance by sending the mistake-filled pieces off to Paul O'Dette, Peter Danner, John Ward, Pat O'Brien, and god knows whom else.  Unbelievable.
Every mistake was explained away. And with the zillion others he committed throughout the books,we had reached an impass.  
Obviously I could not lend my name to such an edition, and had no choice but to withdraw as General Editor of the series. 
Four years of work was ruined.  And my former teacher John Ward was made to look like a musical simpleton, which he is not.  What can you do when the dilettante owner of a vanity music press refuses to listen to the advice of a conservatory-trained professional musician? Without question this is the worst critical edition of lute music ever published.  Bar none.

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Example II. Almaine for Bandora


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Example III. Pavan set for the bandora by
Anthony Holborne (No. 15b)


There are other mistakes in Nos. 15a and 15b.
  • No. 15a/Meas. 23.0;
  • No. 15b/6.5;
  • No. 15b/31.5
Missing essential rests.
  • No. 15a/24.5;
  • No. 15b/31.0-31.5
Incorrect voice-leading.
  • No. 15a/28.0
  • No. 15b/15.5
  • No. 15a/31 (IV not V)
5/4 + 3/4.
  • No. 15b/17;
  • No. 15b/26 (should be two 2/2 measures, each time)

Ward's readings are not respected.  Who's assuming authorship"?

  • No. 15b/23: not what Ward wrote in lute transcriptions
  • No. 15a/30.5: low E should sound through measure.  According to the tablature, those G#'s might be E's. See meas. 22.5 (same, but you left out a sharp).  Matanya didn't correct the tablature, as Ward instructed him. Too bad.
I obtained the services of Pat O'Brien and Paul O'Dette to assist with proofreading, when Ward refused to do so.   And Matanya ignores the corrected proofs!  It wouldn't have taken more than an hour.  And his office boy could have done the work.  I counted 141 mistakes in the tablature volume, all of which had been marked for correction in the proofs.  (See (5) Ophee's Tablature Fiction and a Note on the Tablature Volume)

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Example IV



(Matanya's unauthorized re-write of the passage is shown on a following page in "before" and "after" readings (see Example B, (6) Critique: More Examples). It is Odd-man-Out notation at its worst.  He extends the notes too far.  In another unauthorized re-write of the same figuration, he shortens the notes to make a Scotch snap effect.  See Example A. ((6) Critique: More Examples)  Matanya does not understand the difference between the notation of a polyphonic passages, and a broken chord homophonic passage.)
Musical notation is "instructions for performance," to use Peter Danner's pithy words.  "Odd-man-Out" guitar notation attempts to record the sounds in notes.  But whose sounds?  An amateur in a padded cell?  O'Dette's in a tile kitchen? 
I sent the guitar transcriptions off in batches, so Matanya knew just exactly what I was doing. And that would give him a chance to add the fingerings as fascicle editor. He was, after all, the editor of the guitar volume, although I was expected to ghost transcribe the pieces for him.  Since he claimed to be "one of the world's noted authorities on guitar notation," I expected some commentary on my work.  Not a word, except "Great" to describe my work on "Carman's Whistle," a particularly problematic work to notate on a guitar staff. 
He had the services of two first-rate professional musicians, aided by three professional lutenists, and wouldn't listen to anything we said.

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Example V

More of this mangled notation appears in the guitar transcription for No. 41, "Goodnight." (I did not do this guitar transcription.)  The l.v. ties, suggested by Matanya, work very nicely in my examples, which are easy to read and reflect what Ward transcribed on the grand staff. 
How anyone could publish something like this with page after page of 5/4 measures, which should be 3/4, reflects some kind of stunted musical development.  And the excuse? According to Matanya, they're not mistakes because the player will "imagine" the rests to be present.
Most players will have to stop and ask, "What the ... ?"


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Example VI (No. 15A: Pavan).


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Example VII: Chi passa formula (App. 10b).


These Chi passa grounds were added to the edition at the last moment, when Ward decided to change sources for the Chi passa duets.  Johnson clearly uses the Continental form of the ground, but Ward wanted to fit it to an English version.
A student transcription was used, and it was apparently not checked against the original.  Perhaps as a prank, the student halved the note values in measures 9 and 10.  Matanya made the guitar version, and I did not check it before publication.  By time the last guitar versions were to be done, I had been forced to leave.  So I was not involved with this, or the substituted ground for No. 36, which has incorrect figures for the figured bass  (a G with a natural for lute becomes E with a SHARP for guitar, not Matanya's natural.)
Ward transcribes the music for six-course bandora at pitch.  So Matanya's strato-bandora has landed!
Some comments:
(A) The meter sign is wrong on two counts. The plus sign is used for Alternating Meter, but this is Double Meter.  See the examples.  Alternating meter (using the + sign) has rhythm repeated:
6/8 | 3/4 | 6/8 | 3/4 | 6/8 | 3/4 |,  etc.
Double meter means that sometimes the meter uses the first type, and sometimes the second type. So in the example, measure 1 and 2 are 6/4 and 3 is 3/2.  Matanya gets his arithmetic wrong. 
Ward's meter signs in the transcription are 6/2 and 3/1.  So if the note values are halved, that becomes 6/4 and 3/2, not Matanya's 6/8 3/4.  Can't you count, Einstein?  Just look at the music, and you'd see you're wrong.
(B) A rest is missing.  Otherwise, how does the player know when to play the F?  Do the players have to read backwards from the next barline?
(C) Matanya is assuming authorship and changing Ward's notation.  Ward uses a dotted note.  Nobody authorized Matanya to make such a change, one which violates the series parameters.  It's that dot problem Matanya has.
(D) Why the doubled quarter rests?  Only each one is needed.  Guess you should use the left overs at (C) and (H).
(E).  Ward's notation is changed again.  He had it right, because this is a 3/2 measure, with three half notes in the bass.
(F) This is the proper meter sign, with the appropriate rest.
(G) "Odd-man-Out" guitar notation is difficult to read. The dotted and un-dotted notes get lost.  Mine is much clearer.
(H) Another of Matanya's legendary "Imaginary Rests"? Most players would not like to leave such matters to chance.
(I) The whole rests are not placed correctly.  And should not be centered, but fall on the appropriate beat, as in my example. It is a dotted half, not a whole rest.
Matanya made a real mess with some of the whole rests in 4/2 meter.  Just in No. 5 there are misplaced rests in measures 12, 13, 14, 17, 21 (twice), and 24.  I had them all properly placed, but Matanya didn't put them back when he unnecessarily reformated the pages.  They should be placed (like half rests) at the point where the rest begins.
As I remark above, the rhythm should be doubled and the 3/8 and 6/8 meters are wrong.
(K) Can't you count, Einstein? Gosh.
(L) Who authorized you to add an extra measure? Assuming authorship again.
(M) The E is an octave lower in the tablature volume and in the original.
(N) Keeping like notes together is much better than the "Odd-man-Out" approach in MO's example.
(O) This shows how the original goes.  Why didn't Ward catch it upon proofreading?  The student didn't sign his transcription, but "Chi passa per questa strada" has to be one of the most boring Italian tenors ever.  So the student amused himself.  And JMW fell for it.<shudder>
But Ness?  No where mentioned. Well, given the zillions of mistake Matanya made, I'm glad to be missing.  I was never paid in full, either.