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Unit information: Transcription and Editing in 2018/19

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Unit name Transcription and Editing
Unit code MUSI20056
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Scott
Open unit status Open

Grade 8 theory OR A level music are usually expected for participation in this module



School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to the various editorial challenges presented by music of the renaissance and early baroque periods. Notational systems will be explained and particular attention will be paid to the study of recent scholarly editions of these repertoires. The coursework exercises will involve the transcription of simple vocal and instrumental music, including lute and keyboard tablatures, and the provision of detailed editorial notes and commentaries.


This unit aims to provide an introduction to the modern techniques of editing early music. Attention will also be devoted to matters of notation, source filiation and effective scholarly presentation of results.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. read and understand in detail some of the most important notational systems of the 16th and 17th centuries
  2. transcribe these notations into their modern equivalents
  3. understand and apply modern editorial conventions
  4. make informed choices based on contextual awareness of early musical styles
  5. record in a detailed and concise way relevant information in primary source documents.

Teaching details

Eleven 2-hour classes including follow-up tutorials.

Assessment Details

Three summative assessed exercises equally marked (50% - ILOs 1-3) and two formative exercises. All the exercises must be completed for credit points by the stated deadlines.

Extended final assignment: 50% (ILOs 1-5)

The coursework exercises will enable students to demonstrate outcomes 1-3. The extended final assignment will typically be an extended edition from a major source, incorporating an editorial introduction and critical commentary (1000 words).

Reading and References

  • W. Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1953)
  • J. Caldwell, Editing Early Music 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1995)
  • J. Grier, The Critical Editing of Music (Cambridge, 1996)
  • R. Rastall, The Notation of Western Music (New York, 1982)
  • Articles on 'Editing' and 'Notation' in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980 and 2001 editions).
  • Reference to scholarly editions such as Early English Church Music and Musica Britannica.