Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas


1. Starglow

1. Basil Bunting, On Poetry, ed. Peter Makin, Johns Hopkins Press, 2003

2. See Louis Zukofsky's Anew: Complete Short Poetry, New Directions edition.

3. Note that 80 Flowers is hardly unique in having people not knowing How To Read. Two of the funnier quotes on the subject are:

(a) "being, apparently, in utter ignorance of the nature of Italian syllabic verse, which is composed of various syllabic groups, and not merely strung along with a swat on syllables two, four, six, eight, ten of each line" (Pound, ABC of Reading, pp. 202-203  in re Binyon's translation of the Inferno).

(b) in re Arthur Golding's version of the Metamorphoses: "Though it is the most beautiful book in the language, I am not here citing it for decorative purposes but for the narrative quality. It should be read as natural spoken language. The metre is, I admit, susceptible to bad reading.  A bad reader of fourteeners [the Golding consists of lines of 14-syllables each] is almost certain to tub-thump. The reader will be well advised to read according to sense and syntax, keep from thumping, observe the syntactical pauses, and not stop for the line ends save where sense requires or a comma indicates. That is the way to get the most out of it, and come nearest to a sense of the time-element in the metrical plan." (Pound, ABC, p.127).

4. N.B. to my poetical friends – I do not claim that this reading (or arrangement on the page) is either authoritative or authorial in any way. Though it happens to be fairly close to the original stimulus, the verisimilitude of my rumgumptions is not the point. What IS important to note here is that the reading of (Ex.3) is far closer to the intent than are either equi-spaced versions above, and (Ex.3) is clearly one of a number of acceptable arrangements, given my father's original notation.

5. And note that each of the 80 poems of 80 Flowers has that restriction, as do swaths of the late movements of  "A" (New Directions edition).

6. From the French enjamber = to stride or to stride over (from jambe = leg); ca. 1382, it began to be used to convey the idea of passing over an obstacle. Its specialized use (by Boileau) for verse dates from 1660-68. The specialized definition: "the practice of running a phrase or sentence over the end of one line and onto the next without a punctuated pause" from Poetry for Dummies (John Timpane with Maureen Watts, Hungry Minds, 2001).  As an aside, for those wishing a remarkably clear, detailed, and enlightening overview of poetic technique(s), one could do far, far worse than Poetry for Dummies. Of course, the fact that a poem of my father's is included as an example therein, has in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

7. I should also remark that, in what passes today for the norm in performance, we never ever seem to enjamber in music, (i.e. pass over the bar-line). If anything, we usually jam at each and every bar-line.

8. An iambic pentameter is a single line of five iambs (a two-syllable word with a supposed pattern of weak strong, although the line is almost invariably NEVER READ with five heavy accents). 

9. Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) credited as the "inventor" of the sonnet.

François Malherbe (1555-1628) who "codified French versification".

10. From William Carlos Williams to Louis Zukofsky, Feb. 23, 1949, in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, ed. Barry Ahearn, Wesleyan University Press, 2003. For those wishing proof that plus ça change, plus c'est la même Scheisse see the letters of Boileau and Racine (Lettres d'une amitié : correspondance 1687-1698, ed. Pierre E Leroy, Bartillat, 2001).

11. Which statement, especially coming as it does from a "high-modernist", is astonishingly "romantic" – c.f. Pound in ABC (pp. 13-14):

"A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or to definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.

"An Italian state examiner, jolted by my edition of Cavalcanti, expressed admiration at the almost ultra-modernity of Guido's language.

"Ignorant men of genius are constantly rediscovering 'laws' of art which the academics had mislaid or hidden."

3. Earl of Chatham

1. From Macaulay, Thomas Babington. “William Pitt” and “The Earl of Chatham.” Critical and Historical Essays, Vol. 1. (Accessed via blackmask/open library 20 August 2004 https://archive.org/stream/macaulaysmiscell00macarich?ref=ol#page/182/mode/2up

2. Note from PZ to Dr Grumpy:

Is not this next a marvelous bit of word painting, with the use (on purpose) of certain words, and interminable clauses, that almost collapse in this instance, but that collapse helps portray Chatham's decayed physical and mental state? Anyway, the point I wish to make here, is that there are times when you do not want to write a short sentence, or a short musical phrase, and if you come across something which appears to be (shall we say) 11 bars in length, and there is no clear point of musical-anatomical articulation, perhaps that is because the phrase is to be considered one unit, and in some fashion must be performed that way, which of course begins with our understanding it in that manner, and understanding that it was conceived in that fashion.

4. What if Papa Haydn...

1. Lewis Carroll - The New Belfrey of Christ Church, Oxford (Dover ed. from 1872)

2. For those who might think bringing fireflies into the mix is a bit much: in the early days at Bell System, the question arose as to how to synchronize all the clocks needed to run a plethora of disparate telephone networks, and they thought to use many clocks in chain to self-synchronize, before settling on the master-slave system that is currently common.

Orchestras may well employ some sort of related concept since players do not always follow the conductor but nevertheless can stay together, probably by listening for and receiving cues from the players in closest surroundings.

3. In Koch's Musikalisches Lexikon (1802), imbroglio was defined as "those phrases of pieces in which a contrary meter is inserted". For interesting reading on "imbroglio", see Danuta Mirka's Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart (Oxford, 2009).


4. Although he is writing on a somewhat different subject, I draw your attention to the following:

It is also true that whenever we attempt to interpret human attitudes, especially attitudes of people far removed from us in time or culture, we risk misunderstanding them not only if we crudely substitute our own attitudes for theirs, but also if we do our best to penetrate into the working of their minds. All this is made much worse than it would be otherwise by the fact that the analyzing observer himself is the product of a given social environment - and of his particular location in this environment - that conditions him to see certain things rather than others, and to see them in a certain light. And even this is not all: environmental factors may even endow the observer with a subconscious craving to see things in a certain light. This brings us up to the problem of ideological bias in economic analysis. (Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, p.34)


5. Such a decision is not dissimilar to the decision discussed in Starglow, whereby maximum flexibility is provided by the simplest notation.

5. MBB

1. Personal conversations.

2. As an example of just how horrendous it can become, see: Purloined Too.

3. That would be my preference, at least as of this writing.

4. Obviously, we do not "control" time per se to that level of precision! But in our attempt to convey the "fourness" of a group of four notes, those small temporal differences are both the result, and method, of shaping a group of four.

5. Two of the greatest insights I ever had about music came from John Tukey's Exploratory Data Analysis (Wesley-Addison, 1977). The sections are worth quoting in full, [my editorializing within square brackets]:
The lines ruled on graph paper help to make plotting easy, but they do not make plotting effective for
seeing what is going on--instead they get in the way of seeing what we ought to see. (Tukey, p.42)

If we want to see what our plots ought to tell us, there is no substitute for the use of tracing paper (or acetate). If we slip a well-printed sheet of graph paper just below the top sheet of a pad of tracing paper, we can plot on that
top sheet of tracing paper almost as easily as if it were itself ruled. [This is what the composer does when trying to  squeeze the music in to a more or less standard notation. Unfortunately, the composer leaves his graph paper (the whole panoply of time-signatures, etc etc) as part of the score]. Then, when we have the points plotted, some boundary or reference lines drawn, and a few scale points ticked, we can take away the graph sheet and look at the points undisturbed by a grid. [This is what the performer should do, but rarely does]. We often gain noticeably in insight by doing this. (Tukey, p.42)

[In addition there is]:

The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see. (Tukey, Preface p.vi)

[Hence all our re-notations].

6. See the final paragraph of Divisions of a Beat  

7. For the record: I have met more than my fair share of composers who could hardly tell the difference between themselves, and the "Almighty". Milton was NOT one of those.

6. Who Wrote This?

1. "and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

2. And the practicalities of holding together an orchestra —  although given the unison, a conductor "could" just cue each attack, thereby obviating the need for barlines.