Editing Early Keyboard Music: The Role of the Scribe in the Transmission of Music by Peter Philips (1560/61–1628)

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There are no autograph manuscripts by Peter Philips (1560/61-1628), so the editor of his keyboard music relies on sources copied by scribes in the early seventeenth century, about a decade after it was composed. This paper will address a number of interrelated questions with specific reference to editorial decisions taken in the process of editing his keyboard music for Musica Britannica, but the issues involved have a wider significance. How should we interpret written sources? How consistent are their notational conventions? Does the use of keyboard tablature by some scribes affect their copying? Is it possible to uncover the composer's original intentions, or is such a notion a 21st -century anachronism? Did scribes sometimes assume a compositional role? Did they interpret their copy-texts in the light of their own performance practice, or adapt the music to conform to current fashion in keyboard music? Were scribes all copying out keyboard music for the same reason, and if not, how does their motivation affect the reliability of their texts? The answers to these questions have an impact on our editorial approach to early keyboard music: does it make sense to conflate sources when editing this repertoire, or is it better to select one ‘best’ text?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Music Editing
Subtitle of host publicationPrinciples, Historiography, Future Directions
EditorsTheodor Dumitrescu, Karl Kügle, Marnix van Berchum
Place of PublicationTurnhout
PublisherBrepols Publishers
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9782503551517
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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