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Editing  

James Grier

The preparation of music for publication, performance or study, usually by someone other than the composer. ‘The ideal edition need not have all the answers but should control all the questions so that users can feel themselves in possession of the best available knowledge about this music’, wrote Joel Sheveloff (1986) about the keyboard music of Domenico Scarlatti; his comment is readily extrapolated to the wider problem of editing art music in the Western tradition. This article attempts to outline the questions editors might ask about the music they edit, and by so doing address two goals: to unmask some of the ‘critically based assumptions and perceptions that usually go unacknowledged’ in editing (Brett, 1988), for the benefit of users of editions, and to outline a generalized theory for the editing of Western art music, most of which is closely linked with a written tradition. Musics of other cultures, especially those in which an oral tradition predominates, pose different problems for the editor. Editors in ethnomusicology have developed conventions of their own, particularly in regard to notation, that establish their work as an independent field....