General question on modern orchestra editions.

• Feb 20, 2020 - 19:27

What is the standard used by modern publishers in regards to Classical and Baroque music that uses different pitched instruments?
For example, various pitched clarinets, or horns as well as others. I know the standard answer is that the publisher will use what the composer did so that a more authentic performance can be produced. So you switch to Eb clarinet because that's the sound the composer wanted. I suspect that perhaps it was more that the instrument played in a certain key more in tune. Clarinets of the time were not keyed like modern instruments. Plus playing styles are much different. Unless the target group is using classical instruments and playing techniques (not all of which we have much information on) I'm not sure how authentic we need to be. Modern ears want everything to be in tune. Not so in the past, nor was it entirely possible. Modern trumpet players carry three trumpets, depending on the need. Bb,C, and some kind of hi-pitched instrument. Horn players show up with one instrument. Instrument pitch was not standard even through the Romantic period. Trumpet parts in"A" were common. Bach company doesn't offer a trumpet in "A". So, do you transpose the part to Bb, or leave it and let the player transpose, which they do. So as a matter of practicality, why reproduce an "A" part? Do we suspect that the original is going to vanish? I'm all about honoring the past, but do we do a disservice to the present by not producing transcriptions playable by modern musicians on modern instruments?
This doesn't even consider how completely different modern violins are. Even Strads have been rebuilt to play in modern orchestras. Vibrato is a 20th century thing.

Just kind of thinking out loud.


In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

I am not an anti-vibrato person. I don't really care when it came into use. My point is that performance styles and instruments have changed over time.
By the way, I only got to page 27 (out of 117) of the first link before I had to stop. His opening pages are so smug and condescending that it was hard to take him seriously. Even he admitted that he didn't have hard proof. But that it is obvious what certain things mean based on his understanding. Everyone knows that performing in a vocal style has always included vibrato. Really? And to use one score that refers to a Romanian style and apply that to all music of the time because that style was more expressive (and a folk style) and therefore obviously included vibrato, is a very wide stretch indeed. It's like an alien landing on earth and finding a snail, theorizes that all life on earth is just like a snail. I was keeping a list of questionable assumptions but gave up after a short while. Way to many. I'm also not saying that I'm right and he's wrong. I'm saying that I am unable to follow his logic (?) You don't try to convince naysayers by insulting them.

Again I don't care. I was reading the link because Ziya was kind enough to provide it. Thank you. Though it has little to do with my question.

I thought on your main question :

Almost everything has to evolve and change.
For example, if we go to the ancestors of French Horn, after all, we will have an ox horn in our hands. With this primitive tool, we can make a sound or maybe two.
Or we arrive at the postman horn or hunting horn. With these, we can get a few basic harmonics.
Larger horns in old orchestras are almost similar but they were produced for different keys (e.g.: F, Bb) and much more harmonics. ex: c, c', g', c '', e '', g '', c ''' (And an additional extension tube could be attached and used for transposition to different keys.)
In later times: Additional pipes/tubes have been added, valves (or pistons) have been inserted, and a head valve has been added, so this has become a modern instrument. (Of course, there have been schools that opposed development and refused to use new instruments.)

We can say all of these for other instruments too (violin, cello, contrabass, flute, clarinet, oboe, trumpet, trombone etc). All of them have come to today's forms by going through many changes and developments, both large and small. (eg. for stringed instruments: Bridge, string's material, body structure, etc.)

New, improved and modern instruments can do what the old ones do. But old and primitive instruments do not have such a chance.
Knowing "art history" and "instrument history" is a good cultural background. However, since the development should always be in the direction of need and for the better, it is natural to adapt the works to advanced instruments.

Of course, there will also be music groups and orchestras that play the original editions of the works and use the old instruments or their re-productions while doing so, and that focus solely on this style.
And from time to time, we will go to listen and support them in order to satisfy the longing for the old times and to honor the past. But after the concert, we will go back to today's reality and continue to produce some strange works on our computer synthesizer. :D

Thank you for reading.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

I guess my question has more to do with how publishers are dealing with, for example, clarinet parts in "A". A sub question might be are composers still writing for it?

As an aside, I worked in a violin shop for a while. There was a Baroque music group in town that played reproduction instruments. They had us modify a bass to use tuning pegs. We made the pegs ourselves and was a fun project.

In reply to by bobjp

For the answer to the question, I think it's enough to look at the templates of the Music software. These software contain Standard templates. I think new composers often write based on these.

It's also available that Publishers use different versions for classical works. Some are original editions, some are revised new editions.

In reply to by bobjp

I find it interesting that this topic brought up the vibrato controversy. I mean, yes, I mentioned it first, but only as a side bar to the topic.
There are also the folks that push the idea that Baroque music was was played with a swing feel. And the theory that because many early settlers in America ended up in the Appalachian Mountains, that Baroque music (at least the "folk" style they brought with them) sounded more like mountain type music.
Who knows? Nobody, really. Yes, there may be some evidence for these things, but in the end all we really have are the notes on paper. I think that is the miracle. What if we didn't have all those scores. Would never have known all this great music ever happened. And what of all the scores that have vanished.

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