The Notation Is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance

The Notation Is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance

The Notation Is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance

The Notation Is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance

Synopsis

Written by a leading authority and artist of the historical transverse flute, The Notation Is Not the Music offers invaluable insight into the issues of historically informed performance and the parameters--and limitations--of notation-dependent performance. As Barthold Kuijken illustrates, performers of historical music should consider what is written on the page as a mere steppingstone for performance. Only by continual examination and reexamination of the sources to discover original intent can an early music practitioner come close to authentic performance.

Excerpt

This essay is not meant to be a musicological study nor a practical how-to-play Early Music guide with detailed references to all the historical sources; enough examples of both kinds already exist. I very deliberately chose to include an index of only the most relevant composers and concepts. I also refrained from using an extensive bibliographic footnote apparatus; instead, I cite my main sources in Sources of Inspiration and the bibliography, or refer to specific publications at the beginning of some sections. Indeed, scholarly footnotes (mostly quoting well-known facts, historical treatises, or more recent musicological studies) generally lift the information out of its context and refer to isolated facts rather than pointing to the general principles and underlying aesthetic attitude. Further, I do not want to use the weight of their authority in order to prove anything—in art nothing can or needs to be proven. Instead I wish to reflect upon the ideas behind the facts, behind the theory and practice of Early Music as I have participated in them, and as I should like to pass them on to future generations of musicians.

My theoretical research and my practical research have always influenced and inspired each other. The former enables me to learn about the performance conventions and sound ideals of a given place and time, while the latter consists of finding and learning to play the “right” instrument, or to translate these ideals into actual sound. I

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