About pagination in Feldman

I had an e-mail from a pianist who asked: “on your blog, the music is handwritten, did you write that yourself or do you have a facsimile edition? Because my edition is normal printed music.” This made me realize that all of my “page-by-page” posts on For Bunita Marcus are probably pretty baffling to those of you with the “typeset” score, since the page numbering is totally different!

For the record, the scores of For Bunita Marcus and Palais de mari that I have are copies I acquired some years ago, when Universal Edition was publishing facsimiles of Feldman’s hand-written scores. Since then, they have had the scores prepared in conventional formats that match the style of their other editions. My suspicion is that this was done in part to save money: the manuscript editions were oversized and no doubt more expensive to produce.

The differences in the scores is a serious problem for analysis of Feldman, as Bunita Marcus stressed repeatedly in a lecture I heard her give last year. In composing, Feldman was highly conscious of the layout of the music on the page (“the grid”).  As I have noted in various posts here, for example, the structure of certain pages of For Bunita Marcus is based on a system-by-system rearrangement of earlier pages in the score. Without the system and page structure of Feldman’s manuscript, this connection would be obscured, and you would never see the exact method used.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to make a cross-reference in the typeset score to the manuscript pages. Every page of the manuscript of For Bunita Marcus (including the first and last) contains 45 measures: 5 systems of 9 measures each. So those of you with the newer scores can just count off the measures and mark in where the manuscript page breaks fall.

I just discovered a paper online by Tom Hall, “Notational image, transformation and the grid in the late music of Morton Feldman”, that discusses the relationship of manuscript score structure to musical structure. I have yet to read in detail, but there is a discussion of the problem of typeset scores at the end of this paper.

7 thoughts on “About pagination in Feldman”

  1. Hi James,
    after reading Tom Hall’s paper, I am beginning to think I really need the manuscript version after all… Even though the listener will probably not hear the difference, but it surely would make the structure of the piece clearer for the pianist. Quite a lot of Feldman’s later compositions have 9 bars per line, do you think this is just because 9 bars fit best on the width of the paper he used, or could there have been some other reason for him? (Maybe he just wanted to avoid the good old eight…)
    All the best,
    Eric

  2. Postscript: Meanwhile I have the autograph score as well – it is perfectly readable and beautiful to look at. I prefer its simply empty bars to the bars with a rest sign of the printed version, and of course the layout of the pages show so much more of the composer’s intentions.
    Eric

  3. Please, if it’s not an enormous task, give us the number of measures and the systems per page of Palais de Mari Manuscript!
    I only have the printed version and is rather impossible for me to find the manuscript!
    Thanks in advance

      1. well, thanks but there is a problem….

        the “copied” version has 437 mesures, e.g 13 less than a 5*9*X …..

        1. Are you counting the repeats as separate measures? I only count 360 measures in the score (9 x 5 x 8 pages), but many are marked to be repeated.

  4. The discrepancy in the measure count for Palais de Mari is due to the fact that where Feldman used repeat signs in the manuscript, universal put separate measures for each time it is to be played. I notice this from reading the Tom Hall article mentioned above.

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