Is diversity in musical performance truly in decline?: The evidence of sound recordings

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Abstract
The paper draws on extensive research on performing Bach's works for solo violin and the study of early and contemporary piano and violin recordings of 19th-century music. Utilizing similar results of other researchers discussing interpretative styles in different repertories it questions the received opinion that over the second half of the 20th century performances of European concert music have become increasingly uniform due to the influence of sound recordings. Systematic study of early and recent recordings seems to indicate a more complex situation. The artistic liberties associated with the "golden age" of the first decades of sound recording can be interpreted as "the cultural trend" during that period, in other words just as "uniform" as particular features in late-20th century trends. Furthermore, since the 1980s, in the wake of the historical performance practice movement (and post-modernism), there has been a renewed diversity of interpretative styles captured on record but not acknowledged adequately by commentators. These differences can be demonstrated through computer aided sound recording analysis that also takes fully into account Continental developments and performance features on "minor" labels. The results of such analyses are supported by experimental research that test listeners' responses to various interpretations.
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Fabian, Dorottya
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Publication Year
2007
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Journal Article
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