The Notation is Not the Music
Indiana University Press
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The Notation is Not the Music-Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance
By  Barthold Kuijken-Hardbound

Barthold Kuijken is Professor of Baroque Flute and Head of the Early Music Section at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and The Hague.

Written by a leading authority and artist of the historical transverse flute, The Notation is Not the Music offers invaluable insight into the issues of historically informed performance and the parameters-and limitations-of notation-dependent interpretation.  As Barthold Kuijken illustrates, performers of historical music should consider what is written on the page as mere steppingstones for performance.  Only by continual examination and reexamination of the sources to discover original intent can an early music practitioner come close to authentic performace.   

1. The Underlying Philosophy
2. My Way Towards Research
3. The Limits of Notation
4. The Notation, Its Perception and Rendering
5. Outlook


This essay is not meant to be a musicological study nor a practical how-to-play Early Music guide with detailed references to all the historical sources; enough examples of both kinds already exist. I very deliberately chose to include an index of only the most relevant composers and concepts. I also refrained from using an extensive bibliographicfootnoteapparatus ;instead,IcitemymainsourcesinSources of Inspiration and the bibliography, or refer to specific publications at the beginning of some sections. Indeed, scholarly footnotes (mostly quoting well-known facts, historical treatises, or more recent musicological studies) generally lift the information out of its context and refer to isolated facts rather than pointing to the general principles and underlying aesthetic attitude. Further, I do not want to use the weight of their authority in order to prove anything—in art nothing can or needs to be proven. Instead I wish to reflect upon the ideas behind the facts, behind the theory and practice of Early Music as I have participated in them, and as I should like to pass them on to future generations of musicians. My theoretical research and my practical research have always influenced and inspired each other. The former enables me to learn about the performance conventions and sound ideals of a given place and time, while the latter consists of finding and learning to play the “right” instrument, or to translate these ideals into actual sound. I xii | Preface did not follow a premeditated path, but let myself be driven by necessity , as questions popped up during playing, conducting, teaching, or studying treatises and musicological studies. I have always considered my research to be “artistic research” even before this expression was coined. This kind of research is essentially both subjective and creative. Indeed, the artist as researcher does not stand beside or outside his topic, but is himself part of the researched topic—it is research in, not about, art. The results of this research are not aimed at being scientific; they can be art just as well. Per definition, artistic research is never definitive nor complete. It cannot be exactly repeated and does not strive to prove something. It is never a goal in itself but leads to deeper understanding and thus, hopefully, to better performance or creation. The results needed to be practiced, technically and artistically mastered, applied and integrated in my own thinking, feeling, playing, conducting, and teaching , until they became part of my “mother tongue.” This essay thus inevitably expresses my own current brand of “common knowledge,” practice and theory, and will be shaped and limited by the extent of my own research and performance experience . I hope that it can give occasion to extrapolation, that it might contribute to further thinking and searching by those who love Early Music, are intrigued by it, and desire to share this art form with their audiences. I hope that female readers will accept my apologies for consistently using the masculine pronouns throughout the book. This was done, not as a discriminatory move, but for the sake of brevity and simplicity.