Here's what I know about transpositions in Buxtehude - not too much.
Almost none - maybe none at all - of Buxtehude's organ music is preserved in
autograph HSS. So we don't always know what's been transposed and what's
not been. It's easy to assume that pieces that are in "normal" keys have
not been transposed, while pieces in outlandish keys like f#-minor, or
pieces w/ lots of non-standard-meantone notes, "must have been transposed".
This is a fairly simplistic, even naïve, conclusion, which the sources will
not support, however attractive it may seem. But if there are 2 versions of
"the same piece" - however broadly or narrowly you construe that - in
different "keys" [the word is still anachronistic for Buxtehude], then it's
pretty clear that one or both has/have been transposed. AFAIK, this is far
from the majority of his Orgel-Nachlass.
If the above is equally applicable to his hps music, then we can draw
equally misleading conclusions from the hps-œuvre by assuming that the
written notes prove something about Buxtehude's hps-tuning. But of course
we then also have to assume that Bux. distinguished between hps music & org
music, which remains to be demonstrated. Surely NOBODY could possibly
entertain such a preposterous notion ;-)
I have the feeling I'm playing devil's advocate here, just a bit. But if
there's an angel's advocate w/ a good story, I'd be as happy as anybody to
Probably Brad has more fax at his disposal.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Rodney Myrvaagnes" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 9:45 PM
Subject: Re: Buxtehude...
> Brad, Dale,
> Am I wrong in recollecting that Buxtehude's organ music has come down
> to us in mostly transposed ms? Perhaps better to look at his
> harpsichord music alone for what evidence there might be.
> Disclaimer: I am not a muscologist nor do I play one on TV.
> On Thu, 4 Nov 2004 10:28:22 -0500, Brad Lehman wrote:
> >Dale wrote (about the last phrase of Froberger's Blancrocher):
> >>Woops! That low e-flat escaped me. Apologies to David & Froberger!
> >>The wide compass needs no explanation, IMHO.
> >>The objection to the introduction of such evidence is precisely the
> >>assumption that it is evidence. But it is surely no more satisfactory
> >>evidence of the particulars of Froberger's harpsichord than the d-flats
> >>g-flats in Buxtehude's organ works are satisfactory evidence of the
> >>of Buxtehude's organ.
> >Yes, but the paucity of those two particular flats, next to the wildfire
> >spread of their enharmonic sharps, perhaps says something. The other
> >flats are also pretty rare in Buxtehude, next to the sharps, if
> >counting means anything there. Spend a couple hours flipping through the
> >collected organ works of Buxtehude, noting the occurrences of *any*
> >and you'll see what I mean.
> >I believe that at least *suggests* Werckmeister III or something very
> >to it, as Werck III is so heavily sharp-oriented and anti-flat-oriented
> >the placements of its notes (and not only in the German nomenclature of
> >those notes)...just as Buxtehude's music also so strongly favors the
> >ahead of the flats.
> >Furthermore, as a contrast against Werckmeister III in this
> >*play* through all that Buxtehude in 1/6 comma meantone (with the typical
> >compass including Eb, Bb, F#, C#, G#) and listen to Buxtehude's favoring
> >sharps, even where they're tuned as flats. [Light enough as 1/6 comma,
> >it works very nicely most of the time, but not so well in 1/5 or 1/4.]
> >Also note that any of this is something of a slippery slope, if tablature
> >and/or transposition ever had anything to do with it....
> >As for a discussion of the "chromatic" nomenclature (and perhaps also
> >mindset) chez Werckmeister (and perhaps also Kuhnau), see Ledbetter's
> >recent book about the WTC, where he inspects what "all the tones and
> >semitones" means. It's about getting the sharps to work, primarily, even
> >if the flats don't participate so nicely.
> >What's good enough for Buxtehude isn't good enough for Bach, however:
> >Brad Lehman
> Rodney Myrvaagnes Opinionated old geezer J36
> "Bilgewater, I am the late Dauphin."