For the authorized Marco dall'Aquila Edition, click here.
Copyright (c) 2010 by Arthur J. Ness (Boston)
All Rights Reserved
Zimei wrote, as follows on the Italian Lute List:
Gentile signore, l'edizione
di Ness per la LIM era arenata da anni per il costante temporeggiamento dello stesso. Dopo quasi due lustri di attesa, siamo
tornati alla carica, ricevendo tuttavia dei files che abbiamo ritenuto di non pubblicare, poiché non rispondenti - a nostro
avviso - a criteri editoriali musicologicamente aggiornati. Dopo il diniego di Ness ad adeguarli abbiamo sciolto il rapporto,
ricevendo contestualmente la disponibilità di Paul O'Dette a svolgere il lavoro, che uscirà finalmente entro il prossimo autunno
(peraltro con diversi pezzi di nuova attribuzione). Con buona pace del terremoto e di tutti i detrattori. A dimostrazione
del fatto che il nostro impegno, in questo senso, non è mai venuto meno.
Francesco Zimei, presidente
dell'Istituto Abruzzese di Storia Musicale
With all due
respect, I must defend my labors on the lute works of Marco dall'Aquila over so many years, and more importantly the integrity
of my musicological methodology, by pointing out that Francesco Zimei is not being entirely honest with the readers of
this newsgroup. He is speaking in half-truths. My delay was occasioned in part due to illness (a stroke) in 2000, and in part
due to the amount of time required to provide and proofread the professional engravings (nearly 200 pages of standard notation
and tablature), which I was contracted to provide (the value of my professional music engravings work would save Zimei several
thousands of dollars). Furthermore, the proofreader was delayed in returning proofs due to family illness. Because
of his meddling with my work and stubborn refusal to listen to what I had to say regarding the editorial procedures I used,
Zimei provided me with no other choice but to withdraw my edition from his series. He refused to guarantee that my work would
appear as submitted, and told me that "the editor" (Paul O'Dette, who didn't communicate directly with me, but was on
board in 1998) would make whatever changes he deemed necessary. Apparently these changes would be made without consulting me.
Already many years before, and completely behind my back, without my permission, Zimei & Co. altered my edition from
beginning to end in attempting to "correct" what they considered mistakes in my work, and in so doing created a disaster.
My work was made to look like it had been done by a musical illiterate (see the musical examples, below, esp. Example
I was close
to tears when I saw what had happened. He produced such ugly and illiterate music, it would be a professional embarrassment
to have my name associated with it.
nor his cohorts have any previous experience in editing lute music. Their sad effort demonstrates a lack of understanding
of the basics of musicological and editorial processes in producing a critical edition of lute music. Those responsible
don't understand the metrical value of the rhythm signs in tablature and how to find the tactus. Like some guitar
editors of lute music, they do not even realize the function of tablature bar lines. Time and time again in the
examples below, these misconceptions ruin the transcriptions, and the very essence of the edition, and in turn the integrity
of the music of Marco dall'Aquila itself..
engraved and edited Marco dall'Aquila Opera Omnia was finished and forwarded to Francesco Zimei in 2007. I
am in the process of making it available on the Internet.
was the culmination of many years of concentrated work with Marco's music. It all began with a complete edition of Marco's
lute music included as part of my doctoral dissertation at New York University, with Gustave Reese and later (after Reese's
death) Stanley Boorman, as advisors. It was written mainly while I was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Munich,
and thus I had at my disposal the resources of the Bavarian State Library, one of the truly "great" collections of original
Renaissance music. The dissertation received the James C. Cleary Award for the outstanding dissertation in the humanities
and social sciences, the first (and only?) dissertation in music to receive that honor. Ofg the two dedicatees of my edition
is another of my teachers and thesis advisor, Nino Pirrotta, with whom I studied early notation, a study of particular
importance in the editing of Renaissance lute music.
I have served
on international panels formed to develop guidelines for the editing and publication of modern editions of lute music.
Three major U.S. pubishers of early music have consulted me in regard to editorialo procedures for lute music, and I have
reviewed critical editions of lute music for major musicological journals. This past summer I was elected to the
Tablature Study Group of the International Musicological Society. So I, along with others, have given the problem considerable
thought, thought which found its way into the edition I submitted by invitation several years ago to Zimei's Istituto.
See my personal
Co. had my services as a seasoned, internationally known specialist in lute music, yet they felt no need to ask my opinion
before mangling my work. Behind my back.
I had with Zimei and his "revisions" was his mistaken belief that the ricercar in the early Cinquecento was some kind of rompum-stompum
dance with a mechanical drum beat in either 4/2 or 3/2. Hugo Riemann's now long discredited theory of Vierhebigkeit
seems yet ensconced at Zimei's Istituto, and presumably at Eastman as well. Applying Vierhebigkeit to the Cinquecento
ricercar and fantasia just doesn't work, as most students of lute music will testify. Yet Zimei re-barred my transcriptions
and changed the meters, often imposing arbitrary bar lines that did not coincide with the dynamic metrical underpinnings of
the music itself. He just ran my scores through a computer, expecting it to write proper notation in Vierhebigkeit.
Many early ricercars
tend to be a preludial works, written to evoke the character of extemporaneous play. In my article "Ricercar" for the New
Harvard Dictionary of Music (ed. Don Randel, 1986) I describe the type as "rhapsodic." And indeed FIFTY YEARS AGO,
Otto Gombosi (a student of Bartók) establish this principle in a brilliant article, "A la recherche de la form dans la musique
de la Renaissance," in La Musique intrumentale de la renaissance (Paris: CNRS, 1955). It concerns a ricercar
published in 1536 (No. 3 in my Harvard University edition). It breaks into metrical sections of 3/4 (6/8), 3/4, 4/4,
and 12/8 all arithmetically proportioned.
Example 1 for the first half of Gombosi's 4:1 transcription in analytical format:
Similarly when transcribed in a manner that allows the various meters to
be openly displayed the musical content is easily observed, making possible a dynamic, expressive performance. Ricercars by
lutenists such as Marco and Francesco, with their flexible meterical foundation provide the prototype for the most fecund
of 16th-century forms, the canzona da sonare, often referred to in U.S. music history courses as the "patch-quilt-work canzona."
Many of Marco's pieces might be described as "patch, quilt-work" ricercars, inspired by the formal structures of the Parisian
chanson, and in Marco's case, the frottola as well. Zimei's blind application of Vierhebikeit destroys
this important aspect of early Renaissance lute ricercars and fantasias.
To ignore the typical frequent shifts in meter, by forcing the work into
some arbitary meter, misrepresents what is happening in the music itself. Zimei's reworkings would, for example, start in
4/2, and continue in that meter to the end, although the music itself had shifted to 3/2. The cadential suspensions resolve
on the weak tactus! Zimei's arbitrary re-barring creates notational chaos because the metrical and rhythmic pulses are
in confict, as most intelligent musicians will observe. All the musical ideas are sliced into fragments by the bar lines. Zimei's
arbitrary bar lines demonstrate a lack of sensitivity to Marco's music and my transcriptions. The misplaced cadences on the
"weak" beat would drive a musican batty. See Example 2A (Zimei & Co.):
Notice how in my transcription (Example 2B) the music "breaths" when the
bar lines are drawn according to the musical content of the piece. Cadences, repeated phrases and sequential episodes
assist in defining the underlying metrical (and formal) structure. After all, the ricercar and fantasia at this time
were rooted in the art of improvisatiom, and Marco's works in those idioms often evoke the freedom of extemporareous play.
(Example 2B is a metrical précis is from my edition of Marco's Ricercar, No. 5 in Libro Primo)
Here is Example 2B (Ness):
Below in Example 3A is one of the best examples of how lutenists sometimes create extraordinary rhythmic events.
I am tempted to call it the "Fantasia con misure disrestringement," the "Fanatsia with the amazing shrinking measures."
The Marco motive is a kind of ubiquitous musical "signature." In his corpus I found the motive nearly
100 times. Other Cinquecento instrumentalist composers had their personal musical signatures, too. Including Francesco
da Milano and Gulio da Modena Segni. This passage comes towards the end of No. 60, and with each appearance (times 3)
gets shorter, creating a metric accelerando to bring the rather long piece to an dynamic conclusion. It demonstrates how fascinated
composers like Marco and Francesco were with metrical flexibility. Passages like the following, and the metrical symmetry
in Francesco's No. 3, do not happen by chance. It would be a mistake not to show them in the transcription.
See Example 3A; for the complete piece, see No. 60 in Libro Quarto.
Example 3A (Ness):
See the mess that Zimei and Co. made of the piece in Example 3B (They Sanforized™ it!) Of course it doesn't
make better sense. The metrical manipulation of the Marco motive is lost in bar lines. It's a form of musical gibberish
because the arbitrary bar lines do not match the musical events. The Marco motive is sliced into fragments by the bar
lines. It shows a lack of musical sensitivity, once again. And hides a fascinating bit of Marco's interest in
dynamic structure. Have you ever seen something like that? With the unauthorized re-write of Zimei & Co., everything is
thoughtless jumbled up according to some pre-conceived Riemann-inspired pedantry. "Where's the beef," err, "the beat"?
Example 3B (Zimei & Co.):
I drew upon a lifetime's experience with early music, and lute music
Almost all the meter signs that result from Zimei & Co. are wrong!
Here's an example (See Example 4A.)
Example 4A (Zimei & Co.)
EXAMPLE 4A (Zimei: continued)
It's been turned into a dirge, first in 4/4 (quadruple) meter, then 6/4
(sextuple) meter. That represents a 4:1 reduction in note values. But the edition uses a 2:1 reduction!! They
can't even get that correct! They've mistaken the tactus line ("picego") for a metrical barline.
The meter should be the much lighter alla breve (2/2), in their barring, which I transcribe as 4/2 and then 6/4 (but
as compound duple, not sextuple). The half note = the dotted half note when the 6/4 begins, and the pieces rolls nicely towards
its conclusion. It once again demonstrates Marco as a dynamic composer. And notice how many later lutenist-composers
have adopted this same procedure, e.g., Melchior Newsidler and John Dowland.
The complete piece with tablature is also now in Libro Terzo of the authorized
EXAMPLE 4B (Ness)
another troublesome piece due to a failure to understand the function of barlines in tablatures. (The barlines in Zimei's
transcription, directly below, are the same as the barlines in the tablature.) Zimei
& Co. had my transcription, and why didn't they follow it? Or at least ask
themselves, "Why did Ness do that?" An essential bit of knowledge in studying Renaissance music is an ability to tell where
the tactus falls!!<g> Well Zimei & Co. were treating the barlines as
metric, when they represent the TACTUS. Consequently the meter sign is wrong, it's not alla breve (C/slash or 2/2), but should be 1/1, if that's how they're going to transcribe it:
"in una battuta," "in one." It's the kind of mistake you find in cheap guitar
transcriptions of lute music.
have wrong note in their measure 2, and the whole note tied to a quarter is another mistake. The tied G (quarter note) should
be replaced with a rest. In Renaissance mensural notation it is virtually impossible
to write a note value that adds up to five. A little knowledge of 16th-century
counterpoint and mensural notation can come in handy as well, as might be some indication of voice-leading. Look at that suspension
in meas. 9-10: that's a waving red flag indicating that's something's wrong! Afterall
that was how composers thought back then.
Zimei's "revision" of my work (it's so ugly) EXAMPLE 5A:
Enter content here
Doesn't this following transcription cause you to sigh in relief.
The music suddenly makes sense again. (By the way, Harry KLincoln who has a huge data base of Italian vocal music could
not find a vocal version of this piece, so it must remain a ricercar in frottola style.)
Example 5B (Ness):
Here it is, set to frottola lyrics used by Tromboncino. Fits very nicely. Page
409 in my dissertation. O'Dette claims to have read my dissertaion, but he must have become bored before reaching the
real important stuff.<g>
A final example, surely made by children. Children who've never had music
lessons. And this was approved by "The Editor" (Paul O'Dette? On his CD he uses my version, without crediting me.).
Cautionary accidentals are always required in music like this with all its degree inflection. There are other equally
outrageous examples in the trash Zimei & Co. sent me. It saddens me that there are such ignorant diletantes who
prevail over professionals. I think this kind of musical illiteracy reslts from the overuse of tablature, and the kind
of mechanical performances that result.
Example 6A (from Zinmei & Co.)