ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

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ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

I edited the Literature, Music, and Misc. Auditory Arts for this tournament, and split editing duties with Chris Ray on the Misc. Visual Arts.

I would be remiss if I did not thank both Chris Ray himself for his work as head editor and Auroni Gupta for freelancing a packet, which provided much helpful material for replacement questions.

I wanted to say a few words on the philosophical approach I took in my editing, to provide context for discussion:

Literature tossups were 7-8 lines long. For all tossups on individual novels or plays, the first 3 or so lines were dedicated to incidents that could be clued purely descriptively, without reference to character names. The remaining 4-5 lines were all dedicated to major plot events and characters, with an effort to cover a lot of ground. The majority of submitted tossups did not conform to these standards (either by containing impossible lead-ins, no lead-in-level material whatsoever, or a paucity of middle clues) and were therefore heavily rewritten. (I apologize if any writers were upset by the degree to which their submissions were rewritten to fit these rather stringent criteria, but I hope your playing experience was improved by this.)

Many author tossups also conformed to this model, except describing two or three works instead of only one. However, I also kept some author tossups that used the "shallow description of many works" model, in cases where these obscure works seemed interesting enough or important enough to deserve mention. Titles were generally not dropped immediately, though title-drops were given for all works described in a tossup.

I think I managed to keep all bonuses in my categories under two lines, except for one. Hard parts of literature bonuses attempted to reward knowledge not only of obscure works but also of the contents of famous works. I tended to choose plot and interpretively significant imagery over minor character names, since I find the names of minor characters extremely difficult to remember and often quite incidental to an understanding of the work.

There were a lot of tossups in this tournament on individual characters. I like tossups like these and wrote some myself, but this mostly reflects the extreme volume of submissions of tossup of this kind. To prevent them from entirely overwhelming the distribution, I had to convert some of them back into tossups on the works. As it stands, I think the proportion of these is a little too high.

To ensure good cluing, I read every single work that was individually tossed up in the literature distribution. I did this to try to make sure that the lead-in clues were both memorable enough to deserve their status, and were described with enough specificity and clarity to be as buzzable as possible; and to make sure I had a firm grasp of what are the important points for each work. (I was disturbed to find that a high proportion of submitted lit tossups misreported basic plot details.) I chose answer-lines based on what I thought would make a balanced and diverse and subdistribution, rather than trying to learn more by favoring works that I had not read or giving myself an easier workload by favoring works that I had read.

In the music questions, I attempted to consistently reward "real knowledge" using a broad definition of "real knowledge" that includes music theory, history, musicological study, and historically significant performances/recordings, and by focusing on core repertoire and basic concepts.

Since I assume that a single-digit number of people in the field possess music theory knowledge, and almost none of these people is regularly performing deep analysis of scores, I avoided using theoretical language to describe minor features of works (since the language barrier of music theory and the obscurity barrier of the feature's being minor create a sort of double barrier). Thus, the analytical/score clues in this tournament are quite literally the translation of the most famous and recognizable moments from pieces into technical terms. If I misjudged this, and this led to massive buzzer races early in questions, let me know. (Though I doubt this was the case.) But my hope was that this would strike a balance between "real" and accessible.

The one distributional quirk in the music is that an extremely high proportion of you submitted tossups on 20th century Russian composers (Skryabin in particular). I cut many of these questions after a while so as not to throw the distributional balance off, but there are still more of these than I would have liked.

So, if you have any feedback, whether it be praise or condemnation of individual questions that you think were particularly well or poorly executed, a Gioia-esque methodological critique of my approach, or whatever, I am happy to engage. And I hope to do more editing work like this in future.
Last edited by ThisIsMyUsername on Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

The Guy Montag, Milan Kundera and Pedro Claderon tossups were some of my favorite tossups in this set. I thought that the Marriage a la Mode tossup was way too hard for Regionals (could just be me, though) and I'm not sure if Caillebotte is too difficult for this level or not.
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Re: Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

Glad you liked those lit tossups.

For the record, I had nothing to do with any of the painting questions. I maybe should have named this Literature, Music, and Misc. Arts Discussion, or maybe Chris will choose to respond to critiques of his questions in this thread too.
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Re: Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo »

I had a great time playing the music and literature. I especially enjoyed those questions on Mendelssohn and Heinrich Schenker. Like you said, there aren't enough musicologists in quizbowl to merit using deep Schenkerian analysis clues in tossups, but I thought that bonus on him was a great way to probe theory without sacrificing accessibility.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon »

I think the music in this tournament was the best in my (very limited) quiz bowl playing experience. Bravo. I'm sad I didn't hear the Schenkerian analysis bonus, though.

I liked the idea of testing deep knowledge of more familiar works in literature bonus. I think it's something that should be done more often, even though it worked to my team's disfavor. I did think some of the hard parts were on the unreasonable side. For example, "Hymn to Proserpina" without the author, or Poemes Saturniens (whose first complete English translation appeared two years ago) without the author or its most famous poem ("Autumn Song"). This wasn't a chronic problem - most lit bonuses were entirely reasonable - but it did jump out at me a bit.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Fond du lac operon »

There was a Schenker bonus and I didn't hear it?! Laaaame. (I don't even know that much about Schenkerian analysis, I just think it'd be cool to see it pop up in quizbowl a tiny bit more.)

Anyway, I'll say that I thought the early clue in the Debussy tossup about him using the pentatonic scale and also the whole-tone scale in some work or another seemed a little bit too easy for such an early clue; maybe my knowledge here is quirky, but ol' Claude's use of pentatonics and whole-tone scales (possibly inspired, respectively, by Japanese/Chinese and Javanese music, if I'm not wrong) is one of the things about him I'm most familiar with. Jake tended to agree with me on that point, although we've talked about Debussy some, so maybe I've just infected him with my knowledge on that point.

In general, though, I really liked the music; it seemed very well-suited to someone like me who listens to and reads about a decent amount of classical music but doesn't have the skillz to get into the deep analysis-type things that John/Aaron/Shan apparently do. In that I got most of the music tossups that I got somewhere after the first couple of lines but before the last couple, which is where I probably "should" get them.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Chimango Caracara »

I find that at a lot of tournaments, I'm unable to buzz early on literature questions even when I've read a work because of unhelpful clues. However, at this tournament I seemed to recognize more clues from works I was familiar with and felt like I was actually rewarded for reading the works that were asked about, so props for that.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

Very glad to hear that opinion (thus far) of the lit and music has been complimentary.

I would love to take full credit for the Schenker bonus (as I have been meaning to ask about him in a bonus for a while), but actually it originates from a bonus submitted in the Dartmouth packet. The original bonus was a bit bizarre, and I didn't want to use the easy and middle parts as submitted, so I rewrote the bonus to have a new easy and middle part that fit together better with the hard part, just so I could keep Schenker.
Fond du lac operon wrote: Anyway, I'll say that I thought the early clue in the Debussy tossup about him using the pentatonic scale and also the whole-tone scale in some work or another seemed a little bit too easy for such an early clue; maybe my knowledge here is quirky, but ol' Claude's use of pentatonics and whole-tone scales (possibly inspired, respectively, by Japanese/Chinese and Javanese music, if I'm not wrong) is one of the things about him I'm most familiar with. Jake tended to agree with me on that point, although we've talked about Debussy some, so maybe I've just infected him with my knowledge on that point.
Debussy was certainly the pioneer in the way he used pentatonic and whole-tone scales, but it's not a very safe thing to buzz on just those words, because very many composers after him were influenced by this and imitated this. Admittedly, the piece I clued is his most famous / remarked-upon use of those two scales in combination ("Voiles"), but going by my general editing methodology for this tournament, I kept it early in the hope that:
1. People with good theory / repertoire knowledge would buzz there.
2. People with rudimentary theory knowledge would be helped by the clue and start thinking Debussy, but would not buzz there confidently, and would wait for further conformation.
3. People with no theory knowledge whatsoever would not be helped.

However, if this caused a room-wide game of chicken or something like that, then I may have misjudged this.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Fond du lac operon »

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Debussy was certainly the pioneer in the way he used pentatonic and whole-tone scales, but it's not a very safe thing to buzz on just those words, because very many composers after him were influenced by this and imitated this. Admittedly, the piece I clued is his most famous / remarked-upon use of those two scales in combination ("Voiles"), but going by my general editing methodology for this tournament, I kept it early in the hope that:
1. People with good theory / repertoire knowledge would buzz there.
2. People with rudimentary theory knowledge would be helped by the clue and start thinking Debussy, but would not buzz there confidently, and would wait for further conformation.
3. People with no theory knowledge whatsoever would not be helped.

However, if this caused a room-wide game of chicken or something like that, then I may have misjudged this.
I think that's how it ended up playing out in my room, and I did wait a couple lines before buzzing. Still, it's possible to imagine a possible scenario (say, playing against Georgia Tech) where I would have felt compelled to buzz there -- although maybe that's acceptable, since I believe you that the clue obviously clued a specific work to people with better knowledge than me. Overall, I suppose that this is fine.
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:I avoided using theoretical language to describe minor features of works (since the language barrier of music theory and the obscurity barrier of the feature's being minor create a sort of double barrier). Thus, the analytical/score clues in this tournament are quite literally the translation of the most famous and recognizable moments from pieces into technical terms.
So I do wonder how much score clues in tossups help in general*. Like, for instance, I know the theme from the second movement of the Surprise Symphony, and humming C-C-E-E-G-G-E to myself in retrospect, I can say, oh, duh, that's the Surprise Symphony. But I can't very well do that in the middle of a tossup in actual game play, and even if I tried to "hum" it in my head, by the time I did it and connected it with Haydn, the reader might well have gone on to say "Military" and "Clock." Maybe I'm just slow, though, so I'll leave it up for discussion: How often, if ever, do other middle-of-the-pack music players buzz on this kind of specific score clue? Or is it mostly helpful to the Rosenbergs and Lawrences of the world?

* This is excepting really famous motifs along the lines of B-A-C-H, D-S-C-H, A-B-H-F, short-short-short-long, quarter-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter, etc. Maybe C-C-E-E-G-G-E is equally well known by name and not just by sound, and I'm just not aware of it.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

Fond du lac operon wrote:So I do wonder how much score clues in tossups help in general*. Like, for instance, I know the theme from the second movement of the Surprise Symphony, and humming C-C-E-E-G-G-E to myself in retrospect, I can say, oh, duh, that's the Surprise Symphony. But I can't very well do that in the middle of a tossup in actual game play, and even if I tried to "hum" it in my head, by the time I did it and connected it with Haydn, the reader might well have gone on to say "Military" and "Clock." Maybe I'm just slow, though, so I'll leave it up for discussion: How often, if ever, do other middle-of-the-pack music players buzz on this kind of specific score clue? Or is it mostly helpful to the Rosenbergs and Lawrences of the world?

* This is excepting really famous motifs along the lines of B-A-C-H, D-S-C-H, A-B-H-F, short-short-short-long, quarter-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter, etc. Maybe C-C-E-E-G-G-E is equally well known by name and not just by sound, and I'm just not aware of it.
I buzzed on this despite very rarely buzzing on such clues, so I think this particular score clue at least was very accessible.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon »

women, fire and dangerous things wrote:
Fond du lac operon wrote:So I do wonder how much score clues in tossups help in general*. Like, for instance, I know the theme from the second movement of the Surprise Symphony, and humming C-C-E-E-G-G-E to myself in retrospect, I can say, oh, duh, that's the Surprise Symphony. But I can't very well do that in the middle of a tossup in actual game play, and even if I tried to "hum" it in my head, by the time I did it and connected it with Haydn, the reader might well have gone on to say "Military" and "Clock." Maybe I'm just slow, though, so I'll leave it up for discussion: How often, if ever, do other middle-of-the-pack music players buzz on this kind of specific score clue? Or is it mostly helpful to the Rosenbergs and Lawrences of the world?

* This is excepting really famous motifs along the lines of B-A-C-H, D-S-C-H, A-B-H-F, short-short-short-long, quarter-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter, etc. Maybe C-C-E-E-G-G-E is equally well known by name and not just by sound, and I'm just not aware of it.
I buzzed on this despite very rarely buzzing on such clues, so I think this particular score clue at least was very accessible.
Yeah, I was confused by some of the score clues at Pennance, but this was helpful to me.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

To ensure good cluing, I read every single work that was individually tossed up in the literature distribution.
Jesus Christ, really? That's dedication. Next time you edit this area, I'm freelancing a packet with toss-ups on Tyrone Slothrop, The Man Without Qualities, Charles Swann, and Prince Bolkonsky.

Of course, you've probably read all those already.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2013 Literature and Arts Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

As a reader, I thought the arts and literature distribution was really well done.
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