[SCA-Dance] Playford's black notes

Alex Clark alexbclark at pennswoods.net
Sun May 25 19:21:05 EDT 2008

Oops! I've now noticed another couple of odd things in Playford's notations 
that I didn't include in my observations quoted below.

At 07:16 PM 5/23/2008 -0400, I wrote:
>Here's an interesting puzzle for anyone here who studies music history:
>I've been taking a closer look at 1st edition Playford in facsimile, and I
>notice that he seems to like black notes. For the tunes with major
>prolation (each beat subdivided into three)--nearly two thirds of all the
>tunes in the book--he uses black notation instead of white notation. For

Except for The Spanyard, where he uses a dotted white half note to a beat. 
But that one, unlike almost all the other tunes, is printed without a time 
signature, so this apparent departure from usual practice could be an accident.

>the rest of the tunes, he always uses single-flagged notes (eighth notes,
>in modern American usage), with the result that Cast a Bell and Glory of
>the West apparently have a quarter note to the beat, and no actual white
>notes in what I expect is supposed to be "white notation".
>But when he's using black notation, apparently one beat is always equal to
>a dotted stemless diagonal notehead (I prefer not to assume that I know
>what value he assigned thereto), and sometimes there are no flagged notes
>(as in Adson's Saraband, Boatman, Jack Pudding, and Lady Spellor). I have
>read that the stemless notes are supposed to have the same values according
>to their shapes in both black and white notation, but this would mean that
>he has a dotted whole note to a beat in black notation, where he uses a
>half or quarter note to a beat in white notation. Also, he sometimes uses

Though in one tune, Pauls Steeple, he uses a whole note to a beat. That 
tune has just one pair of eighth notes, and I suppose that but for those 
two notes he would have done it as a half note to a beat. Oddly enough, it 
also has only one whole note, so it came that close to being printed with 
only the quarter and eighth notes. Though it still wouldn't have had a 
quarter note to a beat.

>an orthogonal rectangular notehead in black notation (as in The Fine
>Companion and A Health to Betty), which he never uses in the white notation.
>. . .

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark 

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