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HPSCHD-L  April 2001

HPSCHD-L April 2001

Subject:

Paul's rebuttal

From:

Bradley P Lehman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Harpsichords and Related Topics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 5 Apr 2001 12:22:26 -0400

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (111 lines)

Paul wrote, in part:
> Yes, Bradley, I'm sorry, but considering your credentials, you ought to
> know quite well the difference between evidence and proof on the one
> hand and opinion on the other. In fact, it's a rather sad commentary on
> the current state of academic affairs when someone with your background
> can even seriously propose a phrase like "intuitive internal evidence".
> If I'd coined a corker like that when I was at university, I'd have had
> my ears boxed and kept after hours to write an essay on the difference
> between knowledge and faith, or some such. You have an opinion that the
> piece may have been transposed. And sadly, yes, until you come up with
> some evidence, like the original manuscript in another key, it remains
> nothing more than just that: your opinion. It is no proof, not by any
> means, nor more so than my intuitive "internal" feelings prove the
> existence of God.

Hmm...did I ever say I was proving anything here?  I'm simply talking out
some possible background of an argument, backing up my opinion.  This
isn't a forum of published scholarly discourse, it's a place to try out
ideas for plausibility.

As you point out, lacking the hard evidence of a dateable early copy
entirely in f minor, to you there is no way to "prove" that Bach wrote it
in f minor.  Fine.  All I'm arguing here is that it's at least plausible
that he might have.  There is no hard evidence of a Quelle gospel behind
books of the New Testament, either, but there are plenty of people who
have built their careers on the conjecture that it existed.

This case is the same, is it not?  A no-longer-extant early source,
hypothetically, can answer the standard set of problems with the extant
sources in one major swoop.  What's wrong with entertaining such
a construction?  Shaving with Occam's razor?

> And I don't care what Mr. Parmentier said.  I was taught to respect the
> meanings of words, not blur their significance with oxymoronic New Age
> constructions. "Intuitive evidence" indeed!

Er...don't blame Parmentier for such a construction.  I never heard him
say anything like that, nor did I claim he did.  The only thing I quoted
him on was the important question: "What type of evidence will convince
you?"  That's something anybody needs to decide before anything is
"proven" to them: what is the nature of the evidence that will swing a
balance?  (And then, does such evidence exist?)

> And please share with us exactly what a "vernacular style temperament"
> is for c.1705 (how many tempered fifths, by how much, etc.). I'd love to
> add it to my repertoire.

Since you're enamoured of Werckmeister III from 1697, and believe it to
have been in use in Bach's circle in c1705-1712, that one will do nicely.
Set it up, and then play the toccata in both f# and f.  Which way does it
sound better to you?  I'm not asking, "Does this prove anything to you
about Bach's first draft, conclusively?"  I'm simply asking, which way
does it sound better?  Is it at least *plausible* to you that he could
have drafted it in f?

> And by the way, I never said any of these temperaments made f# sound
> "wonderful", and I certainly agree with you whole heartedly 100% that it
> will never sound as wonderful in ANY circulating temperament as g minor
> sounds in meantone. Maybe even f minor, but that's gonna take a meantone
> variant I'm not familiar with (Vernacular III?). Or at very least,
> tuning your g#'s as a-flats. But then, ANY minor key in ANY circulating
> temperament will sound less wonderful as well. These temperaments only
> make f# sound usable enough that we don't have to go casting about for
> bizarre explanations for the existence of a piece in f#. In fact, more
> usable than many of the other more commonly encountered minor keys.

You seem to assume that I don't understand how enharmonics work in
circulating well temperaments.  Or perhaps that I've concocted a meantone
variant where I've glibly changed the g#'s to a-flats.  What has given you
this false impression?  I've played in circulating well temperaments (and
many other temperaments) for years, and I think I have considerable
feeling for how they work, both in theory and in practice.  Comma
fractions don't lie.  I *know* which intervals are more nearly pure than
which other intervals, on paper, and I can hear from experience how they
sound.

If you want to check my opinion work at the keyboard directly, in addition
to trying it in Werckmeister III, try this piece on the temperaments that
Owen and I were both talking about last week (basically 1/4 comma meantone
on naturals; sharps tuned as pure fifths F#-C#-G#; wide F-Bb-Eb).  No,
they're not circulating temperaments, and yes, the note is closer to
meantone's g# than meantone's a-flat.

What does your ear tell you?  What does your experience of playing and
savoring the intervals as they go by tell you?  Does musical judgment
count in any of this, or are we dealing only in positivistic facts?

Like Joseph I have a preference of using the most extreme temperaments
that the music will bear.  I acknowledge that as a feature of my own
personality.  So, obviously, I'm going to be more convinced by this
f-minor transposition than you are, because I want to hear it that way.
It sounds more musically satisfying to me that way (so does the Chromatic
F&F, which started this discussion).  Your mileage may vary.

What temperaments do you play Bach in?  What criteria do you use to select
them?  Is "it sounds good to me!" a valid criterion?  What type of
evidence is needed to convince you how a practical problem should be
solved?  Experimentation, or just positivistic facts?

I *like* hearing Astrud Gilberto sing "The Girl from Ipanema" even though
the translation is ungrammatical, and her English pronunciation isn't
native, and her rhythm is fairly loose.  It sounds like convincing music
to me.


Bradley Lehman, Dayton VA
home: http://i.am/bpl  or  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
CD's: http://listen.to/bpl or http://www.mp3.com/bpl

"Music must cause fire to flare up from the spirit - and not only sparks
from the clavier...." - Alfred Cortot

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