Between art and science: Music as performance

by Nicholas Cook

14 Apr 2016
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Full text of article by Nicholas Cook posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 2, pp. 1-25.

Abstract: Musicologists have traditionally treated music as a form of sounded writing. Informed by interdisciplinary performance studies, this article explores what musicology might look like if it was built on the idea of music as performance, and how the study of performance can contribute to an understanding of the role of music in culture. In addition to traditional humanities approaches and the employment of close listening, the sheer number of recorded performances creates scope for the use of quantitative approaches. Setting these into the broader context of digital humanities, and putting forward the idea of 'augmented listening', I show how technology can serve to advance the understanding of music as cultural phenomenon and human experience.

Keywords: music, performance, science, digital, humanities, text, modernism, mazurka, Schenker, Hatto

Aspects of Art Lecture, read on 20 March 2013 (video recording).

Media examples referred to in the text

1   Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3, bars 1-32, performed by Murray Perahia (mp3)

2   Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3, bars 1-32, performed by Eugen d'Albert (mp3)

3   Using Sonic Visualiser to play back a recording of Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3, bars 1-32, performed by Eugen d'Albert, with duration graph (see below)

impromptu op 90.jpg

4   Chopin's Mazurka Op. 33 No. 2, bars 49-80, performed by Ignaz Friedman (mp3)

5   Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3 bars 1-32, MIDI playback based on Todd's computational model. Used by permission of Eric Clarke and Luke Windsor (mp3)

Text printed 2015 in British Academy Lectures 2013-14

Version of article available in British Academy Scholarship Online (HTML)

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