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Open Well-Tempered Clavier: a Kickstarter Campaign For Open Source Bach

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the giving-bach-to-the-musical-community dept.

Music 70

rDouglass writes "The Open Goldberg Variations team has launched a new project to make an open source, public domain version of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The work is significant because of its enormous influence on musicians and composers throughout history. A new studio recording, a new digital MuseScore score (with support for MusicXML and MIDI), as well as all source materials (multitrack WAV, lossless FLAC) will be provided as libre and gratis downloads. New to the project are publisher GRIN Verlag, as well as record label PARMA Recordings. GRIN and PARMA will produce and distribute the physical score and double CD, even though the digital versions are to be widely available and in the public domain. Their enthusiasm for the project runs counter to the general publishing and music industry's fear of digital file sharing, and shows growing momentum for finding new models to make free music commercially sustainable."

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libre and gratis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906295)

I believe you meant "libre et gratuit". :p

Re:libre and gratis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906647)

No, they are two Latin words being referenced in English. It is not Spanish, it is not French.

Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906329)

Why "open source" for a musical recording, why not just "public domain"?

It's because "open source" sounds cool?

Re:Open source? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906357)

Le sigh.
Open source and public domain are not mutual, nor is one needed for the other. Public domain means anyone can have it for free as long as they don't try and sell it (under most licenses, EG Creative Commons), while open source means anyone can try and make it better. You can have one without the other, and vice versa.

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906499)

J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.

You:

...while open source means anyone can try and make it better.

Huh?

It's S Bach's composition. It's not a question of making it "better" but of distributing it to the masses.

But I do have a problem with the fact that these folks have $3,600+ as if this post to distribute this.

This music is available in $21 dollar [amazon.com] song books. And for $500, I can get the best of the best music school wannabes to play it -think Juliard.

Good grief, just because it's some internet financing - whatever - doesn't make it sound.

Re:Open source? (3, Informative)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44906705)

For $500 you might get a proficient high schooled player – but not a professional musician. Then factor in rehearsal time.

Which gets back to the “making it better” and the Creative Commons license – specially the “No Derivative Works” section. They want attribution. They don’t want people dropping out a section and replacing it with another. I think both requests are resonable.

Remember, we are talking about classic works here. You may not be able to hear the difference between on performer verse another but those who are passionate can.

Re:Open source? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906909)

For $500 you might get a proficient high schooled player – but not a professional musician.

Sure I can, easily. And they'd give me a blow-job for good measure.

You really underestimate the sorry state of musician employment.

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44958085)

I haven't seen this stated explicitly, but your comment seems to suggest that the project uses CC lincense with ND and A.

I don't find either of the requirements reasonable.
When I pay somebody for an action, I want to be able to use fruits of this actions as I please.
Listen to Bach? That's for sure. But also play with it creatively. Remix. Put parts of it in different context (computer game, video of my cat playing, whatever). Remaster to bring out parts that are more important to me and therefore make listening more pleasurable. Why do they give multitrack records if they are to make them useless?

And as to attribution, I view this as a useless friction. Not useless for the person being attributed, but for everyone else, especially backers, it brings no benefits and only extra effort for whatever they do with the music (as well as making it a liability for anybody they share it with).

For this reason, when I pay for creation of some work (be it art or engineering product), it has to be public domain or at least close.

Re:Open source? (5, Informative)

enilnomi (797821) | about a year ago | (#44907153)

The artist, Kimiko Ishizaka, is easily at-or-above par with Juilliard students. The producer, Anne-Marie Sylvestre, is A-OK at what she does. The studio and staff are top-notch. The instrument will be kick-ass. Etc.

And, there's a track record for this project -- the Goldberg Variations recordings [opengoldbe...ations.org] they've already done are fine.

Maybe you have an axe to grind with Drupal [drupal.org] geeks [robshouse.net] ? ;-)

Re:Open source? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | about a year ago | (#44909395)

Don't confuse the composition with the performance, or a particular edition of printed music. Bach's work is public domain, but a particular printed edition, or a recorded performance, are new works covered by copyright law. Open-Source derives its power from copyright law.

Re:Open source? (1)

locofungus (179280) | about a year ago | (#44910413)

It's S Bach's composition. It's not a question of making it "better" but of distributing it to the masses.

Except that it's not always completely obvious what the composer intended. Sometimes there's the manuscript, often there isn't. Then it might have been copied by someone. The copy might have corrections - sometimes in the composers hand, sometimes not, sometimes it isn't known. Even the manuscript might have corrections that might or might not be the composers own.

A good editor will look at all the different sources, try to assess what the composer intended to write (and occasionally there are obvious wrong notes, sometimes there are notes that are presumed to be a mistake but it's impossible to be sure). The editor might provide a commentary discussing the different sources.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/100069784/the-most-exciting-musical-discovery-of-my-life-tchaikovskys-wrong-note-finally-corrected/ [telegraph.co.uk]

That's with 150 odd years less copying history to look through.

Re:Open source? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44906657)

if it's really public domain you can do whatever you please with it. sell it as well.

problem with making new public domain music - and just free to play anywhere music - is that you have to find musicians who have not signed up for some local copyright monopoly organization.. it's kinda fucked up if you think about it.

Re:Open source? (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#44906681)

Le sigh.
Open source and public domain are not mutual, nor is one needed for the other. Public domain means anyone can have it for free as long as they don't try and sell it

No. Public domain means that it's in the public domain [stanford.edu] : that means nobody owns it, and anybody can do whatever they like with it.

(under most licenses, EG Creative Commons),

If you have to agree to a license to use it, it's not public domain.

while open source means anyone can try and make it better. You can have one without the other, and vice versa.

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44909401)

Public domain means anyone can have it for free as long as they don't try and sell it

No. CC license != public domain. Public domain is not a license. There is nothing at all stopping you from collecting the works of HP Lovecraft, publishing them, and selling them. The published product itself is protected, but the stories are not.

Re:Open source? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#44910659)

Public domain means anyone can have it for free as long as they don't try and sell it.

No. CC license != public domain. Public domain is not a license. There is nothing at all stopping you from collecting the works of HP Lovecraft, publishing them, and selling them. The published product itself is protected, but the stories are not.

A couple of items. First, you should be aware of the CC0 [creativecommons.org] license, which is a way for a creator to explicitly place a work into the public domain, or to disclaim as many rights as legally possible. It asserts that the creator had all legal and moral rights to the work, and that the creator explicitly gives these rights to the public, to the greatest extent possible under law. Second, you're absolutely right about being able to sell stuff which is in the public domain (although finding a buyer can sometimes be tricky).

Re:Open source? (2)

thomasbonte (2021346) | about a year ago | (#44906385)

It's open source because the recording comes with the sheet music in an open digital format. Compare it the source of a picture, which is light. The source of classical music is the musical score.

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906529)

Aw, and I thought you were getting a copy of the soul of the recording artist, so you could examine and improve upon their thoughts and feelings in creating their own among the hundreds of unique recordings of that work. But I guess that's just the "compiler settings" in this beautiful system of metaphors. Still, the list of scores and MIDI files for that work on imslp.org is already several screens long...
(BTW, if the source of a picture is light, then the source of a recording is sound?)

Re:Open source? (1)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44907265)

But - they're not digital scores that can be edited or converted to MusicXML or rendered as MIDI or turned into Braille for the blind or turned into a score following app or... wait... just watch the video - the one where I describe the Top 10 technical advantages of having our music in MuseScore format. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zHey9x8Xuc [youtube.com]

Re:Open source? (4, Insightful)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#44906415)

There's also the issue of ContentID (like on Youtube). Even open source and fully public domain, you'll get the likes of the "Music Publishing Rights Society" to claim and monetize from, or even worse, take down your video.

Re:Open source? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#44907659)

And YouTube will tag your video as having pirated sound even if the music is Creative Commons. I've had this happen - they didn't silence the video or take it down, but they did remove the ability to download the video. Using their counterclaim form didn't get this changed either.

Re:Open source? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44908869)

Using their counterclaim form didn't get this changed either.

Does YouTube tell you who make the illegal claim or are they protecting/hiding them? I'd assume transparency, so they would not be an accessory, so if you have the info of the people making the false claim take steps [mikeyounglaw.com] to protect yourself and the community from these kinds of bandits.

Re:Open source? (1)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44906913)

It's because of the presence of the underlying "source code" materials - insofar as there is a direct analogy. The idea is not just to bring a score and a recording to lots of people, but rather to enable them to use said goods in as many contexts as possible. Thus the multitrack WAV files, information about the microphones and mixing, photos and video of the sessions, and a score in a digital format that can be edited, repurposed, and transported from one program to another.

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44907389)

Are we going to get to enjoy yet another "open source project of composer X's piece Y!!!" here on /. every couple of weeks? This is getting old.

Re:Open source? (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about a year ago | (#44910369)

ack, also, bach is already public domain anyhow ...

Groundbreaking music (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906349)

The 4-CD set by Andras Schiff was the first recording I ever had to save and scrimp for, when I was still back in high school, and it's been worth every penny. I had heard one track and was told the rest was great, and it is. I'm a drummer, but listening to this recording a couple hundred times is probably responsible for any melodic and harmonic sense I may have developed at that time. I haven't heard the version referenced in TFA, but it's hard to make this music sound bad. Highly recommended in principle.

Re:Groundbreaking music (3, Interesting)

chuckinator (2409512) | about a year ago | (#44906809)

There are great works like the Clavier that exist in all fields of studies, and it's a gift to all of mankind when a genius has the opportunity to complete a magnum opus of this calibre. Newton's Principia comes to mind as well as Da Vinci's Codex, but even newer and more modern studies have their own Book to follow. I have been criticized for my antiquated viewpoints on curating a library of masterpieces, but you either stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before you or you are forever doomed to recreate their process and most likely produce inferior results.

Re:Groundbreaking music (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#44906991)

My personal favorite is Bob van Asperen's recording on Virgin. Exuberant!

 

OK. I can do this for $50. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906403)

As of this post, they have over $3,600.

I can get a public domain version for $50 ... OK make that $500 - I forgot how old I am.

Get starving music school student with great talent to play and record this piece and then release it as an MPsomehting or whatever. Contrary to what the asshole music industry has you believe, there are much more talented folks in the world than their products.

Sorry,I don't like this.

Re:OK. I can do this for $50. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906957)

Starving Music Student here. I trained as a performer. IU. Got graduate school funding at Cinci, Cleveland, Julliard, and Eastman. Basically the best music schools in the nation. I chose academics rather than performance, however, because of arthritis that would cripple me by age 50. But, if you were looking for a good representative of a very compentent collegiate musician, that's me. (I've also won an audition for professional 52 week symphony orchestras, but didn't take the gig because I went into academia instead -- and those are jobs with hundreds of applicants per vacency, and that's only because thousands of wannabes don't even bother sending a tape to actually win an audition)

I wouldn't dream of making a recording of key pieces in the repertory of my instrument. (Viola/Violin) Nobody would want to hear it. I sure wouldn't do something like the WTK (If I were a pianist) or the Cello Suites/Violin Sonatas and Partitas. Sure, I've performed them all more than once, and can teach them all, but I wouldn't dare put a microphone in front of me. And, I wouldn't dio it for 500 bucks. I wouldn't even take that for just one of the suites/sonatas/partitas. (It takes a long time to prepare something to that level, even though I know them quite intimately) I don't even leave my house to play at a gig for less than 150 bucks. That's a crappy wedding or a funeral. If you want me to go to a rehearsal, it's at least a hundred more. (Still cheaper than most tradesmen though)

You have obviously not rented a recording studio. Even a crappy one is expensive. Try gettting access to a really great piano for free too. Even if we have your utopia of cheapo student playing in a recital hall at their university with a crappy microphone, the student workers recording the WTK getting work/study wages, with the many hours that this would take, would cost more than 500 bucks.

TL;DR -- Starving Music Student=not good enough for people with an ear. Recording studios are expensive. It's impressive how cheaply they can do this already!

Get off my lawn.

Re:OK. I can do this for $50. (1)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44907285)

Thank you for explaining that.

Re:OK. I can do this for $50. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44908041)

No problem. Had to go AC, since I'm not about to post crap under a name that colleagues might one day find. (I'm amazed by all the coders who put things under their name)

In hindsight, I'd record the 5th Cello Suite. I have a lot of interesting ideas about it that I've been playing with for a decade. It would piss a lot of people off though.

I'm clearly not short on ego, but, just like an athlete, I do know my limitations well, hence why I would not record staples. Most good performers need to have the guts to stand in front of a group of people with the belief that what we are about to do is significant and that the audience needs to hear it. That attitude is great in live performance. It can carry an audience. Recordings don't work like that. Things have to be good on sound alone. (It's like the recent study that everyone, including the authors, misunderstood about how piano competition winners can be determined by sight alone -- forgetting the fact that they all sound good at that level. The Slashdot discussion of that was hilarious...it was as bad as me having an opinion about string theory)

Also, we don't expect our live audiences to be a discerning as the audience of a recording with headphones, multiple listens, etc... In live performances too, those who have the ability to listen at a high level are usually friends, or at the very least, are hoping for you to do well, and don't judge on screwups and just joke around with you afterwards. Normally, at that level, no one would phrase something the same way anyway, so it tends to be pretty respectful when someone tries something out differently even if it doesn't always work out perfectly. With recordings, we are all bitches, in part out of resentment that we aren't good enough to make recordings and we can hear so much more and listen again.

Shockingly few have the ability to hear well -- I think of my sister, raised in the same house as me and out professional opera singer and a professional pianist parents. She thinks collections like "100 Greatest Classics" are a really good deal, whereas I tend to think only one or two of those recordings would even be worth hearing. I guess that's why I hate nearly all boxed sets -- there's a great set of the RCA Living Stereo series that is full of just legendary performances which doesn't suck, but that's about it.

I liked the OpenGoldberg recording. Very solid (although that also means it was a little bit boring) and representative of what has become the standard interpretation. I hope the WTK will be even better!

Re: OK. I can do this for $50. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#44910989)

What's your take on The Piano Guys?

It seems they aren't afraid to explore classical (sic) music in a more modern rendering. I'm running into more and more people who enjoy. Quite surprised how they are making some of the "greats" get more exposure.

Re: OK. I can do this for $50. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44911835)

I enjoy modern takes on old sources. Remixing has always had a long tradition in the "art music" world up until the 19th century when the cult of the author/copmposer was born and originality became the end all and be all. Mozart, for example, made a charming update on Handel's Messiah which offers a very different sort of experience that provides insights into the source. Heck, if we go back just 550 years or so, nearly all music contained a nugget from earlier works, such as using a chant melody as a cantus firmus. Things like instrumental settings of In Nomine were still going on through the end of the 17th century. In the English world, nearly everybody in the 17th century made their own arrangements of Dowland's "Flow my tears." It goes on and on.

Sometimes, the remixes are valubale in themselves and will last; others provide moments of insight for a specific moment of time, but offer little of lasting substance and will quickly vanish. A good example of the former is Emerson Lake and Palmer's Pictures at an Exhibition which is astonishing. They made something new from the old that will last. It stands on its own perfectly. By contrast, think of Enigma and their use of plainchant. I enjoyed it at the time for the glorious weirdness of juxtaposition and the contrasting values of free-flowing chant/speech rhythms with the eternal insistance of dance beats. That will probably not last. In that case, it feels as if the mixture didn't coalesce and remained two different things. However, at the time, it fit a very specific social need as we explored ideas of the mystical and the mundane, sacred and profane, and man and machine, while we integrated the connected world into our lives, as the nature of humanity seemed on the brink of seismic change. (But since we've figured out that integration, we just get on with life, recognizing that we really haven't changed much)

It seems to me like The Piano Guys are more in that second category. They are excellent at what they do and provide a great deal of fun. (part of which might be down to the sacrilege in our culture of modifying the classics) I don't think in 20 years we'll find it so interesting. There have always been modern remixes of the classics and very little of it is thought of as good today. If you can find some of the great Classical Disco fusions from the 70s and early 80s, I think you'll understand what I mean about loss of relevance.

In essence, that's the difference between servicable art and great art. The great stuff has something to say that is self-contained and can, therefore, be continuously used and appreciated, albeit reinterpreted by each generation. Most things spoke very well for their time, and are perhaps not going to last. Think of popular music. Some of the number ones from the 90s are still very good, others aren't. We enjoyed them equally well back then.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know that this binary model is flawed as most binary models are. Thousands of examples can be presented that would destroy this simple conceptual framework. I do feel it is useful, even with that caveat, when considering aesthetics beyond a "I like it/I don't like it." It's not worth someone taking the time to trash this binary opposition. We all know it has problems. (I think I've been in academia too long...)

Well tempered intentions (4, Informative)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#44906427)

There also exists public domain recording by musopen.org [musopen.org] , which will probably pale in comparison, but nonetheless it's great that these efforts exist.

Re:Well tempered intentions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906481)

Robert Douglass has been working and co-operating with Musopen.org who are also doing something similar for Chopin. This is Kickstarter number 3 for Mr Douglass and Ms. Ishizaka - well worth anyone's support as it will produce a superb outcome.

Re:Well tempered intentions (2)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44906955)

The current Musopen version is quite nice, and on harpsichord. This will sound totally different. It will be quite awesome, I promise.

Aack! Not on a piano again! (5, Interesting)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44906469)

A piano is a tremendously wonderful instrument for piano music. But this (Well-Tempered Clavier) is not piano music! You can make a decent-sounding performance of clavier music on the piano, just like you can transcribe a vocal for violin, but you lose a lot of the specific things the composer --- especially a master of the instrument like Bach --- put into the work. Basically, all intricate and fast-moving detail in a piece gets mushed up and lost on the piano, which is designed for a smoother, more "blended" sound than the clearly articulated single notes of pre-piano predecessors. Please, if you want an open cultural reference to Bach's keyboard music, play it on appropriate kinds of keyboard!

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (2)

Atmchicago (555403) | about a year ago | (#44906567)

Point taken, though Glenn Gould did an excellent job on the piano nevertheless. His technique allowed him to articulate single notes and still allow for changes in softness.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#44909705)

Bah! I much prefer Glenn Gould on the piano to harpsichord recordings, although I do like them. See for yourself [grooveshark.com] .

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44906615)

It's true Bach didn't perform on a piano, though to be pedantic, the word clavier doesn't denote a specific kind of instrument. It's just a traditional name for keyboard instruments, and sometimes the piano is considered in the family. Bach himself apparently performed on both the harpsichord and clavichord, though his work is most associated with the harpsichord.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44907509)

Klavier means piano in Germany and no pledge -- because he can't pronounce Bach correctly.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (1)

Jaegs (645749) | about a year ago | (#44907963)

Bach did perform on the piano, just not as a primary instrument:

At first [Silbermann's] experiments were - well - experimental! It is known that JS Bach tried one and commented critically by pointing out serious defects - heavy touch and weakness of the higher notes. Later instruments however, Bach was able to praise, and it is on record that when in 1747 Bach visited Frederick the Great at Potsdam he played upon Silbermann pianofortes, of which the king possessed a number, possibly fifteen. All pianofortes up to this point were of the harpsichord shape - what we now call the 'grand', with the strings horizontal and in a line with the finger-keys.

[http://www.baroquemusic.org/silblegacy.html]

So, had he lived a bit longer--Bach died in 1750, so just three years after his visit--he probably would have written work for it, or at least translated his works to it.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906693)

Don't forget a lot of "piano" music we associate with Beethoven and back was written on the harpsichord and organ. The piano didn't exist.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (4, Informative)

sticks_us (150624) | about a year ago | (#44906815)

Don't forget a lot of "piano" music we associate with Beethoven and back was written on the harpsichord and organ. The piano didn't exist.

I'll assume you meant "Bach" -- Beethoven certainly played and composed for the piano
(See here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortepiano [wikipedia.org] ).

As far as the suitability of playing Bach on a piano (or any other instrument) ... this controversy has been around for awhile. Striving for "historic authenticity" in performance is a relatively recent phenomenon, representing trends in Musicology and research into the construction of period instruments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historically_informed_performance [wikipedia.org] )

Nobody probably thought much of someone releasing a recording of something like the WTC played on piano 50 years ago, but in today's artistic climate, it's regarded as being a bit tasteless, as Bach certainly wrote his contrapuntal keyboard works for the keyboards of his day (be they harpsichord, clavier, or organ).

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44908169)

Even better, Beethoven helped design them to a point.

These early pianos had wooden frames, two strings per note, and deerskin-covered hammers. The collaboration between Beethoven and the English firm of Broadwood contributed a great deal to the development of the modern piano. As Beethoven gradually became deaf, the instruments that Broadwood sent him were produced more larger, louder, and more firmly constructed -- iron frames, three strings per note, and the modern felt-covered hammer.

I had thought I heard this before. Beethoven actually had a lot of input to how modern pianos are designed. Until I found the above I didn't realize it was made much louder to combat his hearing loss, but it does make sense. They can be one of the loudest instrument now, whild a harpsichord isn't nearly as loud.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906831)

You do have a point that there was a time when the piano didn't exist, but the piano did exist in Beethoven's time, and was improved in his time, and he wrote a lot of music for it.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44906895)

fast-moving detail in a piece gets mushed up and lost on the piano...

A compromise may be to use a "piano-forte", which is the word sometimes used to describe wooden-framed or early pianos. Some of the earlier pianos sounded half like a harpsichord and half like a modern piano because they were built out of harpsichord parts and designs.

You don't get quite the tinny sound of a harpsichord, yet have the familiarity of the piano sound. A clavichord is another alternative, but the sound rubs some the wrong way because of peculiar secondary harmonics of adjacent strings. Thus, an early piano (or a replica) is a good compromise.

Bach actually served as a piano-forte tester, helping early builders tune their designs. By some accounts he kept the industry alive. Pianos risked dying in obscurity because they were expensive to build by the standards of the day. (The harpsichord "plucker" mechanism is far simpler.)

Lack of momentum could have doomed pianos, but Bach actually helped promote them once they passed his tests. Having a reputation for his keyboard playing and publisher of training exercises, his recommendations carried weight. Thus, without Bach, we may not have the piano today, at least in the form we know it.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (Correction) (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44907025)

Correction, I believe it's called a fortepiano, not a piano-forte.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortepiano [wikipedia.org]

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (3, Interesting)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44907107)

Much of the "tinny sounding" reputation for harpsichords was due to poorly made harpsichord reproductions from the 1930's-'50s, before good scholarship on re-inventing the art of harpsichord building had been collected, so "harpsichords" were rigged together from iron-frame, metal-stringed piano parts. A variety of more modern reproduction instruments, and restored originals, indicates that members of the harpsichord family don't generally have the clanky, tinny sound associated with mid-20th-century harpsichord music (during the initial revival of interest in older musical forms). The clavier family was often closely associated with the lute --- a very "delicate" and nuanced instrument --- during its heyday.

I think having the "limitation" of pre-piano movements (little/no control over volume from key velocity) is important to performing Bach's keyboard music "authentically" (for a "cultural reference" production), since alternate ways around that are built into the composition/performance of pieces (nuances lost on a piano), which allow proper performances to actually be quite dynamic. One can find plenty of clavier-family instruments with a more pleasing tone to modern ears than more "aggressive" examples of harpsichords, especially not "tinny sounding" poor reproduction instruments.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44910199)

Could you by chance find a Youtube vid or MP3 sample somewhere to illustrate the authentic sound?

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (3, Insightful)

fermat1313 (927331) | about a year ago | (#44907023)

In agreement with Atmchicago, I have to disagree with you here. He wrote them for the clavichord, and that instrument has a specific sound. There are people who record on the clavichord, but as a performance instrument it's quite lacking in volume and is only appropriate for small rooms. Also, the clavichord wasn't really Bach's ideal instrument, as it gave the performer no ability to play soft and loud. Bach's writings were clear about his frustrations with this limitation, which is the main reason the Piano took off like it did.

The key to playing Bach on the piano (as well as Mozart and lots of other pre-Romantic composers) is to use the sustain pedal sparingly if at all, to maintain the clean sound. Glenn Gould was a master at performing music with a clean sound, and there are many other pianists who do this quite well, such as Angela Hewitt.

If you listen to Gould's 1981 recording of the Bach's Goldberg variations [youtube.com] , he achieved (with a Yamaha piano rather than his usual Steinway) a very distinct bell-like and clean tone, very dry without a hint of the lushness and sentimentality of the "traditional" Romantic sound the modern piano was designed for. Gould was one of the best at getting this sound, but he's definitely not the only one.

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (3, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44907431)

The fact that Bach's compositions reflect "frustrations with the limitations" of the instrument is probably the best argument for performing them on that instrument: built into the structure of the pieces are all the best-effort inventions to push the boundary of those limitations (which tend to get lost, or simply rendered irrelevant, in piano performances). Bach may have preferred to write and perform on a piano-forte, but he knew what instrument he was primarily writing for.

The limitations of pre-piano keyboard instruments for large-scale performance halls don't seem to be a big problem if you're focusing on making a recording (rather than giving a big live performance). With modern recording technology, we really live in a golden age for more intimate chamber music --- you no longer have to be wealthy enough to hire a private orchestra to enjoy "small-scale" productions in the comfort of your own home on a pair of headphones or speakers. The emphasis on making instruments big and loud enough to fill a concert hall (much of the drive behind the development of the piano) is less important if most of your listeners will be via a digital recording anyway.

I have nothing particularly against piano performances of these pieces; they can be quite enjoyable and musically well-done. Gould's work is well done, as is Ishizaka's previously released set of the Goldberg Variations. My objection here is that, if you present something as intended to be a "reference" edition for hearing and understanding Bach, that ought to include presenting the specific instrumental limitations that Bach was working with/around (rather than erasing Bach's efforts for what he "might have done" in a world where the piano became popular a few decades earlier).

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44911017)

Also, the clavichord wasn't really Bach's ideal instrument, as it gave the performer no ability to play soft and loud.

Not quite true. The range of dynamics is limited because the maximum volume is low, but you can play any dynamics within that range. Clavichord performers even used vibrato or "bebung."

Re:Aack! Not on a piano again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44910357)

What you need is a root canal, performed on original instruments from the late 17th century.

   

For other instruments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44906581)

It'd be great to see a similar project for Kreutzer's violin studies...

This will destroy the industry (4, Funny)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year ago | (#44906969)

Why would this J. S. Bach guy write any more music if people are just going to steal it?

Re:This will destroy the industry (3, Funny)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44907249)

He hasn't put out any new work in many years. Nor have other greats such as Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt.

This is definitive proof that piracy has killed the output of these famous, world-renowned composers and performers!

Re:This will destroy the industry (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44910217)

A dude on the street corner sold me Beethoven's new 11th symphony for 50 cents.

Re:This will destroy the industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44907483)

He's been decomposing for years, alas.

Nobody believes in God anymore (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#44906971)

But we all believe in Bach !

Werner had the right idea. (5, Informative)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44907105)

Werner Icking started an archive [icking-music-archive.org] years ago for the purpose of making public domain editions available online. The huge selection of Bach's music is already there available for all to use. I use the violin partitas and sonatas, cello sonatas and some of the solo keyboard works of Bach all the time as a reference and for study. Many who contributed used Lilypond and MusiXTeX to set the scores. MIDI files are terrible for the purpose of notating polyphonic music like Bach. It is a digital toy essentially and never truly represents accurate notation.

Companies like Peters that do sell good accurate scores of Bach are so behind the times they literally cannot see the forest because the trees are still being cut down. It is entirely possible for them to distribute decent editions for sale in e-pub and the technology to put scores on e-ink could be made usable with essentially e-reader technology that is score sized instead of pocket book. I would gladly pay for a decent music e-ink reader that would work on my music stand. The information age is slogging along and eventually the real potential of digital music notation will happen. But unfortunately we still have those who have their heads up their assets in the music publishing industry.

Werner was a stickler for accurate notation and much of what is there on the historic digital archive, especially the Bach section, is very accurate. Unfortunately since his death others have corrupted what he started and some of the archive is not good or even accurate notation, however most of the Bach is excellent and done by people who understand the importance of accuracy in music notation. Many of the scores adhere to original source where ever possible. Which can be very difficult as in the time of the great champions of Bach's music during the late classical era much of Bach's sheet music had fallen into oblivion.

For instance a friend of Felix Mendelssohn actually found music scores by Bach being used by a butcher to wrap meats! So the digitizing for all time of all our great heritage of written music is as important as project Gutenberg. Werner understood this as many others do and either the existing music publishing houses will get on board or they will be a footnote in the history of written music.

Re:Werner had the right idea. (2)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44907317)

Yes - and the score that we're going to make goes to 11 in comparison. Because it's digital, meaning "source code", not just a printed PDF. Check this out - it's important for the understanding of what we're doing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zHey9x8Xuc [youtube.com]

Re:Werner had the right idea. (1)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44908121)

Yes - and the score that we're going to make goes to 11 in comparison. Because it's digital, meaning "source code", not just a printed PDF. Check this out - it's important for the understanding of what we're doing:

The real "source" is the printed score in most cases, especially for those who actually read, study and write music. Irresponsible and at times illiterate keyboard players creating MIDI "source code" is not the answer to the preservation of our heritage of printed music. To archive "digital music" in the form of MIDI or editable format is a blind alley quite literally. Originals must be preserved by responsible organizations!

For instance the historic first edition publications that are in collections need to be universally converted to a digital preservation format. Much that is currently "out of print" and being held by publications like Schott needs to be carefully preserved. THIS INCLUDES much great music that was written not very long ago and is not yet in the public domain!

Many of the great publishing houses are going to go under soon because of the digital revolution and the fact that they are resisting it and insisting on sticking with paper print sales. Many like Schott and Peters have in their possession editions of music by composers which are still not considered public domain compositions but are very important music. These music publishing houses cannot afford to digitize their entire libraries, therefore image to PDF is still very important as it can be done much more cheaply and quickly than hiring a pile of people to re-edit to score digitally all the editions they own. Peters is a very important publishing house in terms of the accuracy and scholarly work put into their editions. A great score annotates why an editor deviated from sources and what the original source was. Most that are using midi today to notate from a keyboard device have no clue about what I am alluding to here!

Here's hoping that some enterprising company like Sony does not suddenly decided to buy up the rights to all the sheet music the way they bought out most of the recording industry in the 1970's through the 90's. If a company like them does the future of digital music publishing is bleak indeed!

Re:Werner had the right idea. (1)

rDouglass (1068738) | about a year ago | (#44908319)

We're not "irresponsible and at times illiterate keyboard players". I have 3 higher degrees in music, and I'm just the one overseeing the project. Furthermore, nobody said we're archiving music in MIDI. The "responsible" organizations that will archive these works include IMSLP, Musopen, Wikimedia Commons, Archive.org, and Freemusicarchive. I agree with your analysis of the twilight of the publishing gods. PS we're not using MIDI from a keyboard. Please look at the score of the Goldberg Variations that we made: http://static.musescore.com/48072/42e392b49d/score.pdf [musescore.com]

Re:Werner had the right idea. (1)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44909693)

We're not "irresponsible and at times illiterate keyboard players". I have 3 higher degrees in music, and I'm just the one overseeing the project. Furthermore, nobody said we're archiving music in MIDI. The "responsible" organizations that will archive these works include IMSLP, Musopen, Wikimedia Commons, Archive.org, and Freemusicarchive. PS we're not using MIDI from a keyboard.

Very glad to hear that this effort is more than just another digitally dysfunctional music notation idea. Yes I am using MuseScore already. The input methods in the software are highly logical I have paginated studies to work as pdf that are readable on e-ink devices. I do see a very realistic possibility of using larger e-ink devices on a music stand instead of paper in the near future. This is why a common format such as PDF is so important! What might finally free up the digital distribution of scores is if companies like Kobo come onboard with the idea and produce purpose built e-ink music readers. That way there could be a way to actually sell high quality digital scores edited by reputable professionals again.

Certainly public domain releases of music such as Bach will also help, but as I am sure you will agree those who set the scores need some source of income. As long as there is no real system for the distribution of digital scores we will be stuck in no mans land. Only 15 years ago I could go into any number of music stores and obtain high quality printed music scores, now the industry is completely stuck in limbo. We do need a technological boost to revive it immediately and I believe that e-ink is that boost. Sorry but iPads, laptops and devices will work but have serious drawbacks for the musician and the student just won't cut it on the music stand, we need purpose built devices that excel at the display of musical scores. All the bells and whistles of sounds are not at all necessary or even desirable!

Enough of my rant but the reality is the music publishing industry has problems because they cannot get their heads out of the collective butts!

The problem here,,, (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#44907127)

is that audiences are not interested in an academic reference recording of Bach but in the richly varied interpretations of artists each with their own gifts --- using arrangements of their own choice, instruments of their own choice, in a venue of their own choice.

It is like trying to capture Shakespeare in a bottle.

Uncork the thing and what you will get is a performance wholly typical of the acting style and staging of the year the play was recorded.

Re:The problem here,,, (2)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44908351)

is that audiences are not interested in an academic reference recording of Bach but in the richly varied interpretations of artists each with their own gifts --- using arrangements of their own choice, instruments of their own choice, in a venue of their own choice.

It is like trying to capture Shakespeare in a bottle.

If you watch Glen Gould going over Peters editions at Columbia Records during recording sessions you would fully understand the importance of scholarly work to preserve musical scores. Without decent editions of sheet music for musicians to interpret in the first place there would be no great recordings. Many great Jazz musicians use Bach's music for melodic and harmonic inspiration, as have many composers over the centuries. Jaco Pastorius [youtube.com] whom many consider the greatest improvising bassist of all time, would sit and sight read just the bass cleff of Bachs work to work on his chops. A music teacher looks at a student and says to the parent "yes your child has talent, but does (he or she) have a talent for work?", the same thing applies to musical inspiration which mostly comes from a talent for study and work in the first place. If you pick up a piece of Bach and cannot find a groove or riff somewhere in it then you should seriously consider giving up on music!

Something to 'buy' ?, Sounds terra 'bell' to mi (1)

axonis (640949) | about a year ago | (#44908285)

Clearly makes no 'cent's, if some organisms within the biosphere have evolved to hear an imaginary sound scale of equal bastardisation to the populations 'temperament'. One could fund such distortions in the cochlioidal inner nature of ones sound sensors, make take ye-ears for SUM to understand, come out of their 'shell' && "sea" the truth with watt their audience may hear hear. A small bone to pick that spirals through the 'octaves' of the spectrum leading to fine 'expression' with application in cosmological physics woven into ones 'score'. How does this 'tuning' offer 'natural' NOT imaginary understanding of ones 'resonance' through the 'harmonics' of the 'scale' one wishes to 'measure' ? Any point going on similar to a broken 'record' ? Clearly you all are 'bach'-ing up the wrong branch of the tree of life, a result of becoming a disciple of incorrect teachings that lack understanding of more Pythagorean 'harmony'. Maybe transmigration back to the source will assist with 'cent-sible' 'composition' of future pieces to 'conduct' the 'orchestration' of events 'rehearsed'. Also with 8 bit resolution you may need a low pass filter to 'temper' your 'binaural' 'beat' noise when contorting your instruments to sound similar to a compressed zip package as you 'pitch' bend your lack of quantum wobble.

Re:Something to 'buy' ?, Sounds terra 'bell' to mi (1)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about a year ago | (#44909783)

Obviously modded by someone with no cents of humor at all. iam certain that who ever wrote this little ditty must have been smoking something strange though. The language syntax used far too many broken dactyls! Of course if his ground was bass enough and used good fluent dactyls he could have then written variations and called the post a Passacaglia TerraDactyls.

Or variations upon a ground bass in dactyls. I have already written several over the years just to see how long one can avoid using harmonic repetition. If you get to five variations you are doing well, provided you avoid iambs in pentameter in the ground otherwise you will wind up sounding far too much like Thomas Tallis or a bad limerick being recited by a drunken Irishman!

I'm a contrarian (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44910285)

Where do I get a cantankerous clavier?

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