Musical Examples

Examples of Mistakes in Notation (Johnson & Chilesotti): A CRITICAL REVIEW

Sor Mozart Variations, Op. 9
Notation Mistakes: A CRITICAL REVIEW to Johnson Edition and Chilesotti Lauten-Buch
Open Letter to Paul O'Dette

To assist a former professor, my mentor, John Milton Ward, I agreed to serve as one of the General Editors for a series of lute publications from Editions Orphée (Columbus,Ohio), headed by a retired airline pilot, Matanya Ophee.  The first volume was to be a second edition of my Francesco da Milano edition (Harvard University Press, 1970).  I finished and engraved the revised edition, but Ophee had me put it aside so that we could first complete Ward's edition of the lute works of John Johnson.  This was a two-year haul, as  I graciously and amicably provided him with seven successive sets of proof.  That enabled him to fine tune the edition to his satisfaction.  Only after he finally approved the proofs for publication,  could I start on the guitar transcrptions and the tablatures, which would be derived through computer manipulation directly from Ward's transcriptons.  I even had to develop a special program to make the tablature from the transcriptons. 
I was quite pleased with the results.  And indeed such worthies as Masakata Kanazawa, Laurence Berman, John H. Baron, Elizabeth van Vorst, Charles E. Troy, Doug and Ralph Freundlich, Paul O'Dette, David Dolata, Pat O'Brien and I had contributed. A rather talented crowd.
So I could push ahead with the guitar and tablature volumes (which I could not start until Ward approved a lute text for publication), Matanya was to make some cosmetic changes to the lute transcriptions.  Well, without informing us, Ophee decided to re-write Ward's work.  The changes were a catastrophe of cosmic proportions.  Every time he changed Ward's considered text, he made childish mistakes. AND THEN HE REFUSED TO CORRECT HIS MISTAKES.  He claimed to be "the world's leading authority" on guitar notation, and gave bizarre excuses why his mistakes were not wrong.  He left out accidentals, added and deleted dots for dotted notes, changed meter signs, altered voice leading, deleted rests, and meddled beyond his competency, using his own system of notation, "odd-man-our guitar notation."  He is a retired airline pilot with hardly any formal training in music, aside from a few guitar lessons taken as a youth.
The following are just a few of the BEFORE and AFTER passages.  There are dozens of similar passages.  All are mistakes in any musician's book, not differences in ediorial method.  He even reformatted the beautiful pages I engraved for the edition.  He must have the visual equivalent of a tin ear.
Ophee fails to realize that the John Johnson edition was John Ward's, and he is the person to make editorial decisions. I was only the engraver and I followed Ward's instructions.  It was a two year process, and Matanya regularly saw the work, since he printed the pages on his laser printer (I only had a dot matrix printer at the time). So he knew what we were doing, and by remaining silent agreed with the work we had sent him.  The transcriptions were mislabeled (by Ophee) as "keyboard" against my wishes.  They are transcriptions of lute music, and were checked for playability on lute by Douglas Freundlich, a well known lutenist and teacher at the Longy School in Cambridge.
According to Ophee one cannot play polyphony on plucked strng instruments, and transcriptions that show "theoretical polyphony which may look good on paper . . . but are not playable on lute."  This is the kind of nonesense we had to face from an illterate musical dilettante.  I explained how to play polyphony.  Paul O'Dette gave him a similar explanation.  As would any trained music teacher.  He declared our explanation was a conspiracy to further the notions of "little pin-heads," as he called many of the most eminent scholars of lute music, including the late Otto Gombosi, Charles Jacobs, and Carol MacClintock.  And Mazakata Kanazawa, the leader of an ad-hoc team who in 1958-59 revised a student edition of the works of John Johnson done in Ward's Music 200 (1957-58):   "Roger" (his American name) is one of the most brilliant persons I've ever known, and was recently elected president of the Japanese Musicological Society and named Honorary Advisor to the Japanese Lute and Early Guitar Society.  He appaently included me in that group and sought to find someone to replace me as editor of my Francesco da Milano edition, which he had on his harddisk in my revised edition (newly typeset by me). 
Also see my response to Ophee's unkind O'Dette Letter: 
Can anyone not imagine what it is like to see one's beautiful work ruined and virtually destroyed by such an ego-driven individual. These examples document a small part of the sad story: he destroyed three years of work by several eminent professionals mentioned above.  And, of course, who gets the blame?  My revered teacher and mentor John Milton Ward, of course.

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JJ Ex. 1.
It makes no sense, whatsoever, to take out the rests.  I don't have the slightest idea why Ophee did so. He opines that rests "clutter" the  page, and that the player will imagine them to be there. Throughout there is seldom any rationale for the changes he made.  They are almost whimsical in character.  It means that the player will have to stop playing to figure out what has happened, and then pencil in the rests.  Or misread the passage, perhaps thinking there is a sixteenth-note triplet in there. Measure 31 in MO's version is so confused players would surely have to take more than a few moments to figure it out--if they could even do that. No professional would ever permit his/her work to be expressed in such childish, error-filled manner.  And Ward's approved reading is entirely satisfactory, and one that he worked to perfect in the seven sets of proofs I graciously provided.


JJ Ex. 2.
This is from the page with all the mistakes in meter.  By leaving out the rests, 5/4 and 4/4 measures result.  In another example, I complained about missing rests.  Matanya defiantly said it was correct, because the player would "imagine" the rests to be there.  He had a similar bizarre explantion when accidentals were left out: the player would use his musicianship and/or the fingerings to determine the proper note. And he refused to add the accidentals!!!!!  Here is what he wrote elsewhere:
. . . [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.  see: (Oct. 4,  2005)
Well this page shows what happens when the player is given Ophee's "Imaginary Rests," like Pujol's "Imaginary Accidenals."  And does an experienced played need "detailed fingerings"?  Something doesn't make sense here.
Ward's authorized text is shown. The rests are removed in the guitar version. A suggested notation for guitar is at the end. (This is MO's transcription; and is not derived from my work.)


JJ Ex. 3.
Again, I cannot fathom why the rests were removed.  The convoluted, and erroneous notation at (b) results from Matanya's "Odd-man-Out" guitar notation.  It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to read. It is confusied, convoluted notation.   But if you can't read music, that might not be apparent.<sigh>  For some reason when two notes are together and one has a dot, he adds a dot to the other note.  Without thinking about the consequences. (See the example marked "gibberish," where he adds a superflous rest--perhaps to make up for all the ones he left out.)



JJ Ex. 4.
This is the infamous No. 12B.  Matanya sent it to me asking for comments.  Well there were about a dozen mistakes, mistakes that would shame a five-year-old. 
The second measure becomes a 3/2 without the rest.  Would he put it in?  No!  The players would "imagine" it to be there.  "Imaginary rests" are part of Matanya's idea of proper notation. Bizarre explanations like that produced the last straw.  And who gets the blame?  JMW, of course, would be the laughing stock of the musicological community.  I could not lend my name to such childish error-filled musical notation.  He refused to use the beautiful edition that Ward had authorized for publication.  It was very good.  Now it looks like child's scribbling. 


Furthermore, the transcription from bandora to guitar is faulty.  Matanya has used the wrong transposition to provide the agreed-upon fret-to-fret transcription.  It should be up a fifth, not up a major sixth.


Also see
JJ Ex. 5.
More "imaginary rests." Must a player stop and puzzle out the notation?  Of course not. 
My re-write is preferable. Matanya's is virtually unplayable, it is so convoluted.  A grand staff lute transcrption does not translate immediately to the single guitar staff, and the editor has to use his/her ingenuity to produce text that is clear and understandable for the guitarist. Tain't easy.  Even with this rather straight-forward musical style.  Try to play the third system down on your guitar.  (Of course, don't peek.)



JJ Ex. 6.
MO reformatted the beautiful pages I provided. And he misplaced the properly positioned whole rests.  When a whole rests represents the entire measure, it is centered in the measure.  But here the whole rest is half of a 4/2 measure, and must be positioned as shown.  When properly positioned, the whole rest represents four quarter notes, as positioned by Ophee it represents eight quarter notes, and is nonsense.


Ophee uses similarly misplaced whole rests throughout, especially in the keyboard book,  e. g.,
#5 /meas. 12, 13 (both), 14, 15, 17, 21 (both), 24;
#8 /5, 8, 12, 16, 17 (twice), 20;
#9 /16, 24, 27;
#40 /end of var. nos. 2, 3, 8, 12, 16
     (Why are all stems up in the primo of #40?)


JJ Ex. 7.
Deleted dots. Matanya has troubles with dotted notes.  Here the authorized text is correct.  But without paying attention to what he is doing, he deletes dots causing mistakes in rhythm.  It is common sense not to change the work of professionals without double checking. In one piece he changed the same passage four times, and each time his "correction" is WRONG!! (See No. 6)
And who gets blamed?  JMW.  Where was my successor, Tim Crawford?  It is the General Editor's responsibility to assure than the musical notation is literate, and conforms to the editorial parameters for the series. 
Here he removes the dots for the dotted notes.  Why?  Oh, why? 
Please tell me, "Why?" 
Eureka! There they are; he needed the dots for Mus Ex 8, below.  That's where they went!!!


JJ Ex. 8.
Erroneously added dots.  So Matanya must have had a need to recycle the dots he deleted. So why not add them in here.  It is beyond my comprehension how ANYONE could be so blind when it comes to the rhythm of simple music like Johnson's.  Does he think Ward, Kanazawa, Berman, Freundlich, Ness et al. are musical fools?
The motive marked with an asterisk is very familiar in Johnson's work.  It is misreprexsented with Matanya's re-write of No. 9.  This is guitar-centrist thinking that Matanya applies all over. The topmost note must be "the melody."<sigh>  With such thinking he really fouls the notation. But he is of the belief <honest> that it is impossible to play polyphony on a plucked string instrument. And hence "Odd-man-Out" guitar notation.
In  the second example (La Vecchia Galliard), his guitar-centrist thinking takes over.  If it's on the top, it's the melody.  
Well that turn-like figue B-C-B-A-B occurs so frequently it is almost a "signature motive" identiying music by Johnson.  Other composers likewise have "musical signatures."  
They should be preserved. And away go the dots.  And the D is an open course and should be permitted to ring.  (That's another Ophee foible.  His inability to think in terms of the instrument and its sonorities.  An essential feature when transcribing from lute tablatures.) 


More of the same.  One wonders if this man ever thinks about what he does. He seems to fly by the seat of his pants. He doesn't realize the A (guitar) has the equivalent of 3 eighth notes in the same time when the upper voice (C# to F#) has 4 eighth notes!  But dotted notes are difficult for Matanya (see below).   In many examples, as here, he also changed the lute transcription to match his erroneous guitar version.


JJ Ex. 9.
Still More.  I guess one dot could replace the "imaginary rest," but NOT two!  It's childishly simple to count.  It is confusing to have a dotted note followed by one on the off-beat.  That's why Ward used the rest to articulate the syncopation. Makes excellent musical sense, doesn't it?
Matanya turned a simple 3/4 measure into a confused 9/8 measure.  He doesn't think.  He just likes to make the music look complicated by adding dots (where they do not belong.<shudder>).  Give Matanya's version to a professional for sight-reading and what will you get?


JJ Ex. 10.
Misplaced dots. Dots usually go in the space above the note, in standard musical practice, when the note is on a line. In some situations, when the stem is down, the dot goes in the space below a note on a line.  In these examples, the dots are misplaced, and the lower note seems to be dotted.  Matanya flipped the stems, but not the dots.  The problem is these changes were made without considering the consequences.  Since he cannot read music, MO doesn't realize how confusing is his notation.  And players looking at the scores in a shop, will pass up the edition because it looks complicated.  The off-set G in JMW's reading is to show the voice leading clearly.  Peter Danner remarked, "Musical notation is instructions for performance."  Ward's version fits Peter's pithy defination, MO's doesn't.


In No. 15B MO's guitar version is unnecessarily confusing.  Where's the melody?  It's clear in Ward's original (d-c-B-d#).  Players will have a hard time finding it in MO's. Furthermore it's unplayable as written because the B half-note can only sound for a dotted quarter since the d# is played on the same string.  Again Ophee is ignoring the sound chracteristics of the guitar.


There's even more such convoluted
notation elsewhere
No. 3/ meas. 20,                        No. 4/8 & 30,
No. 6/15-16 (Gt. 2),                    No. 7/17,
No. 9/46 (Gt. 1),                         No. 10/37.5
No.  13/20,                                 No. 14/8.5 & 11.5,  
No. 15A/24.5                             No. 11/39 ,
No. 15B/15.5, 23.0-24.5,           No. 17/4,
No. 26B/11,                               No. 27A/68,
No. 30/31                   No. 14/8.5, 11.5, 16.5
No. 34/24.5, p. 88 /
        meas. 6, 12, 22, 23 & 25, et cetera.
No. 35/24

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No. 15B (above) also reminds me of something that made me VERY, VERY ANGRY.  By agreement with the editor (Ward), pieces in 4/2 meter (pavans, almains, etc.) were to be published in the guitar versions in 2/2, without reduction of notes values as in the other type movements.  But see the false statement at the bottom of page x,*** which asserts that the note values in 4/4, are reductions by one-half.  But as one can see in the example here, the values are NOT REDUCED: just the meter has been changed. 

The tempo of all the pieces in quadruple meter are thus rendered defective.  The pavans, for example, should have TWO dance steps per measure, as indicated properly with  2/2. (Half note equals about M.M. 60, according to some scholars.) 4/4 means early music players would expect four steps per measure, and thus the pavans would have been turned into funeral marches at quarter note = M.M. 60, as M. Lurie has observed. This is a major mistake, made worse by the misleading, false information which Ophee gives on page x of the preface.

*** Quoted: ". . .  the note values [are] 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, respectively, . . ."

JJ Ex. 11.
This re-write is guitar-centrist nonsense. It is a kind of belief that the highest sounding note is the "melody," and is treated as such. What Johnson wrote were broken chords.  Matanya turned them into a Scotch snap.  The added sustained notes create unwanted harmonic clashes. The melody, a song used by Shakespeare, is choked off at the eighth note.  The cantus prius factus should be in half notes as Ward notates it.  It is a broadside ballad, "As I went to Walsingham, to the shrine, with speede."  Finally Matanya gets a tune in the top line, and he screws it up.  As a reviewer noted, "Occasionally an inner voice poses seductively as a soprano melody" (Early Music 23 [1995]: 155).


It's also helpful to have an understanding of the polyphonic style which underlies much Elizabethan lute music.  A comparison of a passaged by Johnson with a cross relation in Byrd is illustrative.  Matanya turns the cross relation into a chromatic passing tone, destroying a typical harmonic device of the time.


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Chil Ex 1.
The Editions Orphée reprint of Oscar Chilesotti's Da un codice Lauten-Buch  contains many mistakes in notation, in the spelling of the titles and in the translations of the informative prefacatory explanations. It is just another instance of the fashionable Chilesotti rip-off.  A proper edition must await the publication of the original Bavarian manuscript in a facsimile.  The original was long thought to have been lost in a spectacular midnight blaze said by old-timers in the neighborhood to have destroyed Chilesotti's home in Bassano del Grappa.  It was, however, the house nextdoor that burned. All of Chilesotti's papers (which would have likewise been burned) survive at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, where they may be examined by appointment. The manuscript was sold, along with another manuscript of music by S. L. Weiß, shortly after his death, and passed to a famous Italian musicologist living in northern Italy.

Most of the pieces were originally for six-course lute, sometimes tuned "in Abzug" (that is, with the sixth course tuned a tone lower).  Chilesotti's transcriptions in the E tuning were made for lute-guitar, then a popular instrument of university students, and are easily played on the usual guitar, often with little or no adjustmet being necessary.

= = = = = = = = =
Here in Matanya's "correction" to Chilesotti the rests are not necessary, and the dots on the first E should be in the space below the note.  The double-dotted E is written to sound through the rests.  That makes no sense, whatsoever. He is unable to calculate the proper sounding length of a double-dotted note. The sixteenth and dotted eighth rests are also wrong, and not placed correctly.
There is no need for rests in these examples.  But if used, the correct rests should appear.  The eighth rest should have just one dot,  but two dots do look elegant.  Elegant but WRONG.<sigh>


Chil Ex 2. 
Matanya has difficulties with dotted notes, especially double-dotted ones, as above and here.  Both Chilesotti's original and Matanya's "correction" have a low D that cannot sound as long as indicated because the last two sixteenths of  beat 2 use the same string.  Most editors would find this kind of fussiness unnecessary.
It's a kind of theoretical notation that cannot be played as written.  In the bottom example, to be correct, the double dotted quarter note should have a single dot, and the following rest should be one note to the left and an eighth rest.


Chil Ex. 3
Accidentals Matanya has trouble with accidentals, perhaps because (I suspect) he plays by ear, and not by the notes. Here he removed the natural before the C in the last measure.  He didn't realize that a sharp was left out before the previous C, and Chilesotti's natural was a cautionary accidental.


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JJ Ex. 12.
This unplayable notation is Matanya's "Odd-man-Out" guitar notation.  Invented because, he claims, it is impossoble to play polyphony on a plucked string instrument.  Yes. That's what he says.  Polyphonic rendition of lute music is the work of "little pointy-heads," he claims.
The first three systems are similar melodic idioms.  What does Matanya do?  He edits each one differently, so the player cannot see the similarity.  He does this often because he unable to see patterns in musical notation.  And one fundamental obligation of a music editor is to notate similar ideas similarly.



JJ Ex. 13.
The Birth of Stravinsky. This is a rhythmic nightmare is for bandora.  I had nothing to do with it.  A student transcrption was used, and the Stravinsky-like metrical changes were probably the student's way to get some fun out of the assignment. Made worse by Matanya's faulty musical mathmatics (he claims not to have graduated from elementary school, perhaps in jest).  (Half of a dotted quarter is a dotted eighth, etc.)  He doesn't understand the difference between Alternate Meter (using the "+" sign) and Double Meter (no "+" sign), One alternates the two meters regularly, the latter uses the indicated meters randomly.
This was so weird that when I received it, I thought surely this is how the tablature read.  The student's assignment was accepted as correct without checking the original.<sigh> It was in fact a student prank.  I give the correct reading from the Marsh Ms at the end.


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JJ Ex. 14
The No. 17 Galiard has similar confused notation (also see m. 52).   What a waste it was to devote one's efforts to this lost cause.  Matanya changed the stem, making it a measure of 5/4 meter.  Guitar-centrist, again.  This type of change appears all over the place, and usually results in mistakes.  He does these things without thinking. As a self-styled "world's leading authority on notation," I guess he considers himself so good he doesn't have to examine what he has wrought.  And who gets the blame?  The editor, John Ward, who often sought to "soften" the effects of simultaneous cross relations, as here (a vs. a#).