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how do you write accidentals?

Posted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:27 pm
by kate/bob
I'm rubbish at playing from memory, so I'm trying to write up some melodies that will pass a quick glance at 15th c events. I've done some research and come to the conclusion that i don't have time to learn how to transpose modern music into four stave, not written in C music (I need something for the beginning of July!).

In the meantime, I've decided to write modern notation in a "medieval stylee". I've been studying what the notes look like and think I can carry that bit off. My main problem is key signatures and accidentals. Will putting accidentals above the appropriate notes be ok? Is that in any way appropriate for 15th c?

Help!!!

Re: how do you write accidentals?

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:16 am
by saracen
Hello! You can certainly put together something passable for the fifteenth century and keep it easily comprehensible for yourself when playing. These suggestions might help:
- a five line stave is fine
- a C-clef (roughly C-shaped and around the C space) is usual; I haven't spotted a G-clef in the fifteenth century (but I've only had a quick look!) but they are being used by the early sixteenth century, so you could probably get away with that - a swirly mark much like today's clef but without a loop at the bottom (if you see what I mean)
- key signatures are rare and I've only seen a b-flat used as a key signature; so avoid otherwise
- accidentals (flats, sharps, naturals) are known as early as the fourteenth century (and much the same shapes), positioned before the note or even a few notes in advance; however bear in mind the practice of musica ficta - accidentals are not always marked but expected to be understood and used by the performer. So long as you know what key the music is in, you could omit the key signature and accidentals in your written versions, in the name of 'medieval stylee'?
- Avoid bar lines, although you could separate phrases with lines
- Avoid rest marks - you could use an 's' (Latin 'sine' - without) instead, or simple short vertical lines
- In modern music, quavers (and smaller notes) are usually joined (beamed); this was not done in medieval music.

Hope this helps - cheers
Gill and Paul of Trouvere

Re: how do you write accidentals?

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:06 pm
by kate/bob
that's really helpful.

I'd seen some articles that mentioned things being written in F. Being mostly a string player I can't do that clever transposing thing that many wind players can!

I'll leave the key signatures and accientals out for the moment. If it all goes terribly wrong I can go back and add them.

I'd found references to the other things you metion, but it's nice to have them confirmed before I spend ages writing loads of stuff out on expensive paper!

Thanks again