[Smt-talk] Music Theory Translation wiki

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr
Sun May 6 14:26:50 PDT 2012

On the one hand, I am obviously extremely aware of the problem of 
translations. On the other hand, I don't think that this problem really 
can be solved merely by translations: it involves a (re)definition of 
the concepts themselves.
     Labeling chords is but one aspect of the problem and the concepts 
behind the labels are at leas as important. Labeling a chord "IV", for 
instance, really is not the same thing as labeling it "S", as recent 
discussions here have made clear. And whether "II" is "Sp" or "S" is a 
complex decision: Dahlhaus wrote about that, namely whether in Riemann's 
functional theory one given degree (of seven) could be considered the 
main representative of one given function (of three). In other words, 
there is no essential reason (in Riemann) to consider that II is but a 
subsidiary representative of IV and of the S function.
     Following a suggestion made here some months ago, I recently 
participated in the rewriting of a first Wikipedia article about 
Schenkerian theory, "Prolongation", where I claimed that the modern 
American use of the term did not exactly match Schenker's own conception 
I soon realized, however, that this made the further development of the 
article more difficult, if only because the very title of the article, 
"Prolongation", was meant in the modern American usage (see also the 
commentaries to this article, 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Prolongation). This is not an 
insuperable problem, but it is a complex one and I fear that it cooled 
down the suggestion, right in itself, that our community should get 
involved with Wikipedia articles about music theory.
     In a way, such terminological discussions are easier starting from 
French, in the case of Schenkerian terminology at least, because the 
French usage is less formally established. I recently began a discussion 
of Schekerian terminology on my Schenker blog, 
http://heinrichschenker.wordpress.com/category/terminologie/, and I'd 
very much like to invite criticism (or other contributions) there, also 
in English. Such a blog makes sense only if it is written by more than 
one person -- what, in this particular case, proves not so easy in 
French today. The blog still is at an early stage and remains very open 
to critical discussions; and French is not such a difficult language to 
read, especially if you answer in English!

[May I add that the domain wikia.com, suggested by David for his Music 
Theory Translation Wiki, seems to me unduly plagued by unwanted 
commercial announcements and other Internet spams. There are enough 
other offers on the web to avoid that! Also, contrarily to Wikipedia, it 
does not seem to offer space for comments without modifying the existing 
articles, which does not seem very satisfying.]

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 6/05/2012 15:09, David Code a écrit :
> I was wondering about the viability of a Music Theory Translation 
> Wiki; a kind of translation project for music theory symbols, terms, 
> and concepts.
> http://musictheory.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page
> This would be especially helpful for international students studying 
> at music schools in another country.  Every year at my school, we have 
> international students with strong theory backgrounds who score poorly 
> on entrance exams and/or struggle in their first semester of course 
> work because of unfamiliarity with the labels we use.   It is not just 
> a matter of different spoken languages (e.g., English, French, Korean, 
> etc.), but different musical systems. There are, for example, dozens 
> of different notational systems used for labeling specific types of 
> musical chords used by different composers, music schools and text books.
> The articles in this wiki would typically feature an image of a 
> musical example representing a specific topic (e.g., chromatic 
> harmony, rhythmic syllables). Below this contributors would add the 
> notational symbol(s) they use to describe these features and the name 
> of their institution. Subsequent contributors would add their 
> institutions name to an existing section if they use the same notation 
> or create a new section if needed. Contributors from non-English 
> countries would be encouraged to add commentary in their native language.
> david
> David Loberg Code
> School of Music
> Western Michigan University
> Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5434
> 269-387-4667
> code at wmich.edu <mailto:code at wmich.edu>
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