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On Wed, 23 Feb 2005, Steven C. Barr wrote:

> However, there are other questions likely to be asked by modern
> researchers...such as "What did Bix Beiderbecke sound like?" or
> "How was such-and-such a piece played in 1915?" that require the
> preservation of recordings.

Yes, but for me there is a distinction...we may know what a Bix
Beiderbecke recording sounds like, but, ultimately, that there is a
difference between Bix Beiderbecke and "memorex." (to paraphrase the old
commercial, "is it live, or is it memorex?")

> For example, we have no idea of what the music of the ancient
> Greeks, or the Romans, might have sounded like! Insofar as they
> were written down, they were notated in systems we can't comprehend.
> We can't even be sure what the works of Bach or Beethoven
> sounded like in their own day! I can, though, put a record I
> own on my player, and hear what Sousa's Band sounded like playing
> "Hot Time In the Old Town Tonight" in 1898 (albiet not EXACTLY
> what they sounded like).

I agree...for me, it fascinating to compare what small portion of
performance history we do have via recordings. I still don't understand
how one can justify an "historically informed performance" of the romantic
literature which sounds so sterile after one listens to a Nikisch
recording!

I am reminded of a seminar I had in the aesthetics of music...our teacher
offered the scenario...not unlike a similar discussion, on this list,
about "the future." It is the year 4,000 and you uncover a pile of jazz
charts...no recordings survive. Musicologists worldwide examine the scores
and try to determine the appropriate way to perform "ad lib." There are
musicological forums and congresses held, papers are written, professorships
are awarded, careers are made and others destroyed, books are published and
over a period of years of intense debate a "performance standard" is developed
based upon the research, diaries, newspaper articles, reviews, etc. Kinda
makes you wonder what that "performance standard" would sound like.

Karl (still bothered by having spent the better part of a semester in
graduate school working on the assignment of how to interpret the "Haydn
ornament.")