Musical Thoughts

Below I will post my thoughts and experiences relating to my musical life. This will be updated fairly regularly (as often as I have something interesting that I want to report!) – a bit like a blog. If you have any comments or questions you can reach me through the contact section, or if you want to discuss any of these ideas more generally then feel free to leave a message below.

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My first experiences of deep excitement and curiosity sprouting from musicological theories were during my undergraduate degree at Manchester University. I had always enjoyed reading and researching music in order to extend my understanding, but the feeling of a text or discussion that suddenly jolts your whole perception of the music that spend your life playing and studying, that is very different. It creates a yearning to know more, dig deeper, and try to understand this new angle of understanding that has been thrust upon you. One memory of this sort that particularly sticks in my head was the first “musicologists forum” at Manchester University, in which we (academic and composition professors and students) discussed Taruskin’s introduction to the then-newly-published Oxford History of Western Music. Taruskin’s comments such as “to assume that the meaning of artworks is fully vested in them by their creators, and is simply ‘there’ to be decoded by a specially gifted interpreter … can lead to gross errors,” sparked a long debate about the hierarchy of importance of individuals’ interpretations of pieces of music. Questions were posed such as “Why should the composer’s interpretation of his own music be more important than anyone else’s in understanding a piece?” Though I didn’t realise it at the time, in this forum I was being introduced to some of the principals behind musical hermeneutics, which has fascinated me since. Another memory is of first realising the implications of the western canon, when researching as essay on feminist musicology. Previously I had not considered the sociological reasons that played a part in choosing which composers and works have survived the centuries. This opened the door to possibilities of undiscovered or little-played repertoire, which had previously never occurred to me.

Most recently, I have become interested in the music of the Irish composer, John Field, who still goes relatively unknown and rarely performed, particularly beyond his Nocturnes, despite his significant contribution to the piano repertoire. I am currently learning some of his piano works and researching his life and music and will post any interesting findings in this section.