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Experimental Poetry (and other artistic work?) in academia

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Author Topic: Experimental Poetry (and other artistic work?) in academia  (Read 697 times)
« on: June 17, 2009, 11:48:21 pm »

I see where you're coming from on this, Tony. Perhaps some of this has to do simply with competing interest groups all vying for equal shares of the higher-education-funding pie, and as such designing their work so as to be artificially 'difficult'. But in some cases very little is achieved through such a strategy other than to benefit those who can make a job out of it. Whilst being one who crossed from performance to academia (or to combining the two things) I have a residual scepticism about the ways in which certain practitioners (composers and performers) are awarded higher education positions, when I don't in any sense believe what some of them do deserves to be classified as 'research' or 'scholarship' in the same ways as other branches of musicology. Historical research, involving inspection of old documents, manuscripts, etc., the preparation of critical editions, sketch study, study of performance practice, detailed cultural history; these sorts of things take serious time and money, as well as finely developed skills built up over a period of time, and can rarely be pursued properly outside of a university environment, unless the individual doing so has plenty of time and money on their hands, and has already developed the skills. But I can't really see that a lot of simple composition and performance, which the individuals would do anyhow (and often get paid separately for), accompanied by a certain amount of tokenistic documentation to satisfy the research bodies, can really be counted on the same level. But university music departments are often becoming increasingly staffed by composers (I can think of two such in the UK which half the faculty are composers with no proper musicological qualifications and experience such as would otherwise be expected of individuals in those positions, and I certainly wouldn't class almost any of those individuals as serious intellectuals), often entrusted with teaching undergraduates and even supervising postgraduates with musicological work, and I worry that the whole intellectual level is being diluted as a result.

The area of musical academia about which I'm most sceptical, when turned into an end in itself, most closely resembles the study of English - hermeneutics. There is a point to interpretation which serves to elucidate works to people and help them penerate deeper into them, but that is rarely what's entailed, quite the reverse. I'm certainly interested in the wider factors (including social factors) that somehow influence musical works, music-making, and musical reception, and think that is an important part of cultural history (which I'd say is as important as any other history, though not always practised so rigorously). But that's a different matter from expending lots of verbiage on 'the meaning' of works - actually quite an old-fashioned approach (distinct from looking at how music (or literature) generates meaning, which has much to do with reception, again part of cultural history) - especially when this is presented in such a mass of jargon that it's unlikely ever to be read by anyone outside of academia. That such work, in whatever artistic field, should be placed on a par with research into nuclear physics, or cancer research, or document-based study of the causes of the First World War, or into performing conditions and practice in 1830s Leipzig, and should receive the same amounts of funding, is something I'm extremely unsure about.

Reiner - how do you define 'musicology' or 'an academic discipline'? And why would the study of orchestration not be part of these (it often is)?

I'm not a great Rimsky fan, but his Third Symphony (some of it written during his intensive period of study, and showing a new contrapuntal facility) is a fine piece.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2009, 12:10:32 am by IanP » Report Spam   Logged

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