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In Defence of Analytically-Informed Performance

Pace, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-0047-9379 (2019). In Defence of Analytically-Informed Performance. Keynote Paper presented at the International encounters on Music Theory and Analysis Conference, 6 Nov 2019, São Paolo, Brazil.


Over a period of time, a group of internationally influential British musicologists, most prominent amongst them Nicholas Cook, have published a range of articles investigating the relationship between analysis in performance, provoked initially by antipathy towards other work on this subject from Wallace Berry and Eugene Narmour. Cook’s analysis-related writings range from relatively uncontentious espousals of a variety of analytical techniques, through other writings broadening the scope of analysis to better encompass hybrid art forms such as music with video and film, then through intricate attempts to explore a two-way interaction between analysis and performance, whereby the analyst has the potential to learn as much from the performer as vice versa, towards more recent writings in which he coins the term ‘Analytically-Informed Performance’ (AIP) as a counterpart to Historically-Informed Performance (HIP), and argues against the value of such a practice.

In this paper, I mount a defence of AIP, starting from the position that a great many of the decisions any performer must make inevitably constitute some type of analytical perspective. Framing the concept of analysis broadly, incorporating the analysis of other performances, I survey the potential relationship between a range of different advanced analytical strategies and the type of work and associated questions generally undertaken by performers, whilst continuing to support the position taken by mid-period Cook and others, whereby analytical approaches can be modified or nuanced fruitfully by incorporation of perspectives derived from performance. I incorporate this discussion into a wider model of practice-as-research, presenting analytically-informed techniques as a sub-species of performative approaches and attitudes, which can also involve historical, documentary, stylistic and other approaches, or ideally some combination thereof. In particular, I argue that the analytical dimension, and all it can real about the specifics of any individual compositions, provide a way beyond the anonymising of works in terms of all-purpose period style as critiqued by 1950 by Adorno, writing about the Bach performances of his time.

I demonstrate these arguments through a range of examples, from Debussy, Dukas, Ives, Stockhausen, Finnissy and others, including some of the works presented in the recital I will be giving in this festival. I also add an autoethnographic dimension by surveying how various manifestations of the approaches described have informed my own work as a performer and concurrent musicologist over a quarter-century.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
[thumbnail of In Defence of AIP - Keynote for Sao Paolo.pdf]
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[thumbnail of In Defence of AIP - Slides.pdf]
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