Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation (Anglais) Relié – 20 janvier 2010
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I pray that [this book] becomes a kind of Holy Writ for notation in this coming century. Certainly nobody could have done it better, and it will be a reference for musicians for decades to come. Not my words, but those of Simon Rattle on Elaine Gould's new book, Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation. This "wonderful monster volume" - Rattle again - is indeed more than the sum of its parts. Gould's book is the result of decades of experience as senior new music editor at Faber Music, where she has worked closely with composers like Jonathan Harvey, Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews, and Thomas Ades, and what she has to say in Behind Bars transcends the book's first appearance as a manual of notational best practice. Under the surface of its guide to producing the best and clearest scores - the arcana of making sure you're not asking your harpist for too many pedal changes, that you change clefs in the right place in your orchestral parts, and how best to indicate the plethora of extended instrumental techniques in so much contemporary music - this book expounds an alchemical formula for musical communication. Gould's book shows composers how to ensure that the magical transfer of musical ideas from their imaginations to their scores, from their performers to their audiences, is as seamless as possible. Behind Bars is a practical revelation of the poetics of musical communication. It's especially necessary in the early 21st century. You might think that after centuries of evermore sophisticated copying, printing, and digitising of music notation that all the problems had been solved. Not a bit of it. The rash of computer scores produced with programmes like Sibelius in the last couple of decades are a mixed blessing. Software like Sibelius allows composers to create full scores and individual parts for the musicians at the click of a button, yet it's too easy to overlook the kind of problems that Gould talks about - where a badly placed page-turn in your string parts can mean the difference between a good performance and a catastrophic one. Gould quotes Mahler's frustration with the copyist who mauled the material of his Eighth Symphony before its first performance in Munich in 1910; looking at his exemplary manuscript of the Fifth Symphony that the Morgan Library has just made available for free online, you can see that Mahler abided by Gould's principles of clarity and consistency. But I wonder what Gould would say to Beethoven, if she were faced with pages like this, from the manuscript of the Ninth Symphony, whose facsimile was recently published by Barenreiter? It's not just a contemporary phenomenon: composers have always pushed at the limits of musical and notational comprehensibility." --The Guardian (Tom Service), 12 January 2011
"Say 'musical composition' and you identify a process: but 'a musical composition' is very much a product, a commodity: and never more so than when it takes the form of materials from which performers sing or play, and academics build their theories about music history and aesthetics. Philosophers might continue to agonise about the extent to which a printed score represents the composition. Performers are much more likely to agonise about whether the materials put before them make sense and, if you ask professional musicians where they would like to see composers whose materials create tough challenges for them, 'behind bars' would be one of the politer suggestions forthcoming. Composers best able to avoid the lash of performers' hostility are those lucky enough to work with a well-established publishing operation, and that means an editor like Faber Music's Elaine Gould. --Gramophone Magazine (Arnold Whittall), February 2011
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If you are not a music professional, do NOT spend 100 dollars on this book. There are plenty of simple volumes that will give you the basics of notation for most purposes. But as an editor for a music publisher, I consider it well worth the money and will keep it close to my desk along with my dictionary and orchestration manuals!
As one reviewer wrote do not spend the money if you do not write orchestral or large band music. If your medium of composition is piano, chamber works, writing lead sheets, or straightforward choral works, Sibelius notation software offers INDIRECTLY through its instruction manual good thorough basics on notation. If you want a direct manual Dover has issued a Norton Guide to notation.
But if you are a composer who write or intends to write for large forces or works with a great deal of chromaticism, meter changes, use of more complex rhythms, and some extended techniques, PLEASE get this book. A tidy, well-laid out score will significantly increase your chances performers will review your arrangements and/or compositions. I guarantee that they will play it better than if you present a carelessly prepared score.
A major update of Kurt Stone's "Music Notation in the Twentieth Century" would be preferred to Gould's overly paginated tome.
But, all in all it is useful and informative as is.