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misleading pitches in cello Mozart + Beethoven string quartets #73

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gperciva opened this Issue Nov 26, 2014 · 2 comments

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gperciva commented Nov 26, 2014

Cello music published before the 20th century often writes high notes in treble clef which is supposed to be played an octave lower. This is not notated with a _8vb; the cellist must simply figure out based on the context whether a particular score should be played at regular pitch or an octave lower. A summary of the issue is given here:
http://www.daisyfield.com/music/cm/FalseTreble.htm
(although I hadn't heard it called "false treble" before, it makes sense!)
This is particularly aggravating because the range of "false treble" is one note away from tenor clef, which is readily understood by moderately skilled cellists.

Unfortunately, many (perhaps all?) of the musescore files in music21 suffer from this problem, compounded by a lack of clef information (since they are stage1). For example, mozart/k421/movement1.zip 01/04 contains this:

measure 15
C3    4
C2    4
rest  8
measure 16
C5    8
E5    8

checking IMSLP shows that measure 16 goes into treble clef,
http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/1/12/IMSLP64149-PMLP05232-Mozart_Werke_Breitkopf_Serie_14_KV590.pdf
but speaking as a cellist with 25 years of experience, that is a "false treble". The actual pitches should be

measure 16
C4     8
E4     8

Unfortunately I can't think of any quick or easy solution. Adding a warning to the corpus documentation may be appropriate. Updating all the stage1 files to stage2 (as well as correcting the pitches to show the real pitches) would be ideal, but that is of course a very manpower-intensive task.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

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gperciva commented Nov 26, 2014

In case you are curious how I noticed this, I include three plots of pitch frequency in Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven quartets. In Haydn, there is a similar "fall-off" of high-pitch notes in all quartet voices; in Mozart and Beethoven, there is a similar "fall-off" in the three upper voices, while the cello has a suspicious "bulge" in the "fall-off" portion.

(oops, I just noticed that the y-axis label should be "normalized log-probability", not "log-probability". oh well)

haydn-pitches
mozart-pitches
beethoven-pitches

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mscuthbert commented Nov 26, 2014

I love the charts and the links you've posted -- it's been a known problem for some time. There is a similar and even bigger problem with French Horn bass clef (written an octave below where it "should" be given the treble clef transposition) which extends to rare excerpts for clarinet from Mozart's time in bass clef.

as Craig noted though, unfortunately we can't alter the CCARH encodings to fix the problem. I'm working on a project that should fix certain of these problems by mixing score data w/ midi data.

@mscuthbert mscuthbert closed this Dec 16, 2014

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