Lyricists known only unto God

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cjshawcj
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Lyricists known only unto God

Postby cjshawcj » 19 Feb 2012 18:44

I have recently been posting "Anon, probably the composer" in the lyricist line on the add work form. The purpose of this is to indicate that the composer is most probably the provider of his own words. The singer-songwriter is not a concept invented by Bob Zimmerframe. I have used this phrase only where there is a strong presumption that the composer neither drew his inspiration from a common pool, nor collaborated with A.N.Other. This category is appropriate to many English madrigalists, and to glee writers.

IM'UO therefore, 'twere better to extend this practice to all items for which composers are thought to have provided their own words (although not formally credited therewith on title-pages) rather than to delete all such descriptions with the dismissive "if in doubt, better not to use the Lyricist template" :?

Are the distinction between "not guilty" and "not proven", and the use of the template equally abhorrent?

carlos
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby carlos » 20 Feb 2012 07:51

Hi Christopher,

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, was just trying to fix a technical problem: as you possibly know, the Lyricist template only accepts a name as a parameter; the text you had typed ("Anon, probably the composer") was causing the template to categorize these works under a non-existent Category:Anon, probably the composer. I had three options: 1) use the composer's name as the lyricist; 2) use Anonymous as the lyricist; 3) remove the template altogether. Since I couldn't choose between 1) and 2) based on my own knowledge, and you seemed to not be sure either, I opted for the third alternative.

Now that you stated that "The purpose of this is to indicate that the composer is most probably the provider of his own words", I feel much more confident to reinstate the template in those pages, but perhaps we should first hear other opinions about this subject. Particularly, I've been adding the Lyricist template only when I'm absolutely sure of who it is.

Best regards,
Carlos (talk)
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CHGiffen
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby CHGiffen » 21 Feb 2012 16:22

I think the "Anon, probably the composer" designation is a little awkward (and it should be either "Anonymous, ..." or "Anon., ..." if kept in that form). However, I think a much better choice of this probably composer category name would be "Composer?" (or maybe "Composer(?)") which suggests the belief that the composer is the most likely source of the lyrics (and is a lot shorter to type). Also, when used this way, it would probably be best to add a sortkey field of the form "sort=<surname>, <first name(s)>" - as in:

{{Lyricist|Composer?|sort=Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus}}

so that the category page will list works sorted by the composer names. A separate DPL listing can be included on the category page which lists the works by title. Some sort of default action would have to be generated for the instances when a user only enters {{Lyricist|Composer?}} without the missing sort field.
Charles H. Giffen
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Manager of ChoralWiki
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Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

CHGiffen
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby CHGiffen » 21 Feb 2012 17:16

I quickly cobbled together something that seems to work for the Lyricist template - you can see the results by going to "Category:Composer(?) lyricist settings" (for the list sorted by composer surname) or to "Composer(?) lyricist".

One can use any of "Composer?", "Composer(?)", or "Anon, probably the composer" together with the sortkey "sort=..." or "9=..."
Charles H. Giffen
President of CPDL and
Manager of ChoralWiki
User pageTalk pageComposer page

Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

carlos
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby carlos » 21 Feb 2012 19:44

Chuck, I think this requires further thought. The Lyricist template was created in order to provide a means for listing all settings based on a writer's literary work in a single page dedicated to that writer. When the text of a work was written by the composer him/herself, I don't see the need to categorize these works under a new category Category:Composer's_name_settings when they are already categorized under Category:Composer's_name_compositions, as it would be somewhat redundant. Likewise, what would be the benefit for users to search in a generic Category:Composer(?) lyricist settings? This information could just be added to the works pages as plain text, without the need of further categorization (thus also avoiding the inconvenience of having to use a sort key).

CHGiffen
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby CHGiffen » 22 Feb 2012 02:41

Hi Carlos (and others). My understanding is that Christopher has been identifying those scores which do not contain an attribution of lyrics in the score, but which he feels almost surely have lyrics that are, in fact, by the composer. I get the feeling that the attribution is not quite certain in these cases (indeed, the attribution might become certain or doubtful or even false if suitable evidence comes to light in the future). Nevertheless, it is a matter of us fostering the attempts to give the best possible representation of the situation, and having the Category:Composer(?)_lyricist_settings as well as the Composer(?)_lyricist page for such still not certain attributions could well serve as an aid to scholarship for users who might wish to mine CPDL's resources.

The matter of having Category:Composer_name_settings (for composers who are known be lyricists) is not what I'm addressing here at all. However, I will point out that there are composer-lyricists (or lyricist-composers) who have written both vocal/choral music as well as lyrics - sometimes "words and music by..." works, and sometimes lyrics for another composer's works (or music for another lyricists texts). And, personally, I don't find it redundant to have a Category:Composer_name_settings for the lyric settings by such composers - even if at present they may only be of their own musical works. But that is for another discussion/evaluation.

My point in extending the Lyricist template was to accommodate the work that Christopher Shaw has started and encourage others who might identify works whose lyrics are most probably by the composer. it seems like just the sort of thing that CPDL should be doing, in its role of providing library-type resources, even though the clientele might be quite small.

Edit: For the record, I mainly compose, but also happen to have written poetry that might be suitable for setting to music. And for at least one work, whose text is a hymn, I wrote a final stanza in the form of a Doxology. It happens to be posted at CPDL, so I guess that makes me a lyricist, too. Whether any of my sonnets ever get set to music is a different matter though!!!
Charles H. Giffen
President of CPDL and
Manager of ChoralWiki
User pageTalk pageComposer page

Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

vaarky
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby vaarky » 24 Feb 2012 08:01

FWIW, I also think there is value to using the Lyricist template to indicate when the composer likely wrote the piece themselves, for research or people putting together a program around that particular theme or whatever.

DaveF
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby DaveF » 24 Feb 2012 15:50

To return to the original premise, this template would be used where composers "are thought" to have provided their own texts. But thought by whom? I would wish to argue that the example of the English madrigalists is unhelpful since, as far as I'm aware, very few if any of them are thought to have been poets as well as composers. Campion and Daniel among the lute-song composers, perhaps, but as for the madrigalists, the usual assumption seems to be that they were using texts that were in general circulation - possibly in anonymous manuscripts, since the "stigma of print" (a concept favoured, and perhaps accorded too much importance by the anti-Stratfordian camp) would have prevented leisured aristocrats from publishing their own work openly.

Another composer of these times, although again not a madrigalist, was Byrd, who provided lengthy prefaces to his published collections of English songs which go into some detail regarding the composition of the music, but make no mention of the texts, which surely they would have done if he had also been the poet.

Given these points, and also that the same texts often turn up in settings by different composers in the Tudor and Jacobean periods, surely the assumption should be that, unless we have very good evidence to the contrary (and I'm not wishing to belittle the intellectual credentials of many CPDL editors here, but that would be evidence that has so far eluded the musicological world at large), the composer is not the poet.

DF

cjshawcj
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby cjshawcj » 24 Feb 2012 19:09

Thank you Chuck, for your third post above, which encapsulates my aim and attitude more coherently and concisely than I could myself.

I am not proposing a bin-end classification in which to dump all lyrics that do not respond to googling; rather, to identify specific pieces where it might be helpful to indicate that the composer is probably his own lyricist.

I think it may be fruitful to reply to DaveF's comments in detail: not directly to refute them, but constructively to develop the argument.

DaveF wrote:To return to the original premise, this template would be used where composers "are thought" to have provided their own texts. But thought by whom? DF
- The contributing editor. Consideration of the lyricist is part of his domain. Attribution is his personal opinion, based on deeper and wider experience of the composer than that afforded to the casual punter. It is meant to be descriptive but not prescriptive.

DaveF wrote:I would wish to argue that the example of the English madrigalists is unhelpful since, as far as I'm aware, very few if any of them are thought to have been poets as well as composers. Campion and Daniel among the lute-song composers, perhaps, but as for the madrigalists, the usual assumption seems to be that they were using texts that were in general circulation - possibly in anonymous manuscripts, since the "stigma of print" (a concept favoured, and perhaps accorded too much importance by the anti-Stratfordian camp) would have prevented leisured aristocrats from publishing their own work openly.
DF
Pardon my ellipsis - you got me bang to rights. I had in mind East, Weelkes and a couple of others who appear on CPDL in quantity, with no lyricist attribution, but not madrigalists as a class. Your point about lyrics in general circulation is well made, and indeed when I have flagged up items as likely to be by the composer, I have considered whether or not the piece is a nonce item (I am not resorting to prison slang). When googling for potential authors, I have noticed that it is considerably harder definitively to attribute English pieces than Italian or French items. Why that should be so is moot: possibly the influence of "the stigma of print" as you suggest, but equally arguably the impulse of a "protestant work ethic" dictating every man to be his own poetaster,

DaveF wrote:Another composer of these times, although again not a madrigalist, was Byrd, who provided lengthy prefaces to his published collections of English songs which go into some detail regarding the composition of the music, but make no mention of the texts, which surely they would have done if he had also been the poet.DF
Inconclusive IMO. It is equally arguable that he considered the texts as a vehicle for the music, not intrinsically worthy of mention. Any proficient composer would naturally be more diffident about his literary capabilities. And the problem of the silence of title-pages is exactly the problem that I am seeking to address.

DaveF wrote:surely the assumption should be that, unless we have very good evidence to the contrary (and I'm not wishing to belittle the intellectual credentials of many CPDL editors here, but that would be evidence that has so far eluded the musicological world at large), the composer is not the poet.
DF
It depends whether, in the continuing absence of evidence of authorship, the "not" towards the end of the above sentence should appropriately be considered optional. To me, the sentence makes equal sense without it. As more and more knowledge, verbiage, and knowledge about verbiage, is posted to the web, I consider the failure to identify alternative candidates for authorship makes the presumption of the composer's guilt more rather than less likely

That is why I included the word "probably" in my original rubric "Anon - probably the composer". I concede that is either unwieldy, or too arcane for the reader who has not been party to this particular discussion; but I do believe that some indication of authorship making this sort of distinction could be of continuing academic use.

DaveF
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby DaveF » 25 Feb 2012 17:19

I suppose my doubts centre around the notion of probability: if we were considering an anonymous lyric set by Byrd, for example, and it was the case that 90% of Byrd's texts were known to be written by him (or even 51%), then we would be justified in saying that an unknown one was "probably" his. Given that there is no evidence that Byrd wrote even one of the texts he set, how can it be "probable" that he wrote any of them?

I am also worried that, because CPDL is quite rightly treated as an authoritative site on many aspects of vocal music, our "probabilities" would quickly become someone else's "facts". I suspect that if, for example, the text of Morley's "Now is the month of Maying" were attributed here "probably" to the composer, you would soon find the piece being described on other sites as "words and music by Thomas Morley". A real example comes to mind: it's possible to find mentioned in a number of places online the "fact" that Byrd's song "Crowned with flowers I saw fair Amaryllis" is a covert tribute to Mary Stuart. It's not; the song in question is actually "Crowned with flowers and lilies" - but someone somewhere hasn't read beyond the first three words, and the misapprehension has spread.

cjshawcj wrote:Any proficient composer would naturally be more diffident about his literary capabilities.

Unless they are Wagner, that is... or Tippett (perhaps they are the ones who should have been more diffident).

DF

cjshawcj
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Re: Lyricists known only unto God

Postby cjshawcj » 26 Feb 2012 14:38

DaveF wrote:Unless they are Wagner, that is... or Tippett (perhaps they are the ones who should have been more diffident).

DF


:) :) How very unlike Churchill's observation on Clem Attlee: "a modest man, with much to be modest about"

Louis Antoine "The Great" Jullien once expressed the intention of writing a setting of the Lord's Prayer in order to read on the billboards "Music Jullien, lyrics Christ"; A feat achieved in our time when Cliff Richard issued his "millenium prayer" - the Lord's Prayer sung to Auld Lang Syne. Presumably that was credited, for royalty calculations, as "Lyrics Christ, music trad. arr. Webb"


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