Sunday, October 04, 2009


A nice name for a horrid phenomenon (pace Howard Mayer Brown). A concordance is another version of the same piece in a different source. A table of concordances is when someone goes through a book of music and lists the known alternative versions of every piece in it. A real enthusiast will highlight the differences between the different versions.

Tables of concordances feature heavily in modern publications of lute music, whether facsimiles or new editions. Of course they have a scholarly purpose. But they sit like a lead weight, dull, depressing, sapping energy, turning the publication into a cataloguing exercise rather than a musical one. And making the musical reader feel somehow inferior if he doesn't know his way round the arcane abbreviations for libraries, manuscripts, folios and sigla which are used to locate the pieces.

Worse, one forms the distinct impression that publications can be delayed, or simply fail ever to appear, because of the enormous time and labour required to assemble this catalogue of stuff that no-one wants to read. Not good.

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