torculus resupinus, gluteus medius: some thoughts on the 2018 Historical Notation Bootcamp

Yesterday afternoon I came across this sentence in the novel I’m slowly working my way through this summer:

“I’m talking nonsense, I know, but I would rather babble away and at least partially express something difficult than reproduce impeccable clichés.”

It made me smile, because in the past week I have had many moments that felt a little like that. It was the week of the Historical Notation Bootcamp, an intensive four-day crash course on the history of music writing in the West that I co-teach with Andrew Hicks. This was our third year of running the program, which is funded by the Beinecke Library, the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance at Cornell, and the music departments of both institutions; it furnished me with a third annual mid-August occasion to stop and wonder in gratitude at the drive and dedication, curiosity and patience, of the graduate students and colleagues who show up.

We call the event a bootcamp, which can sound a bit gimmicky until you see our schedule. We squeeze in 27 hours of instruction into four days (not including optional extra evening review and Q&A sessions with graduate student tutors): Continue reading