Musical performance has increasingly attracted the attention of researchers after generations of relative neglect. Now, in a dynamic five-year programme, the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP) is achieving new levels of understanding about music and how it is created both in and through performance.
Launched in October 2009, with a focus on live musical performance and creative music-making, CMPCP has engaged a large team of musicians and musicologists spanning all stages of the career cycle. The Centre’s research agenda is addressing important questions such as: How is musical performance creative? How does the act of performance take shape over time? And how does understanding musical performance as creative practice vary across different global contexts and conditions? Reflecting a recent shift in how music is taught at universities and conservatoires, the Centre’s work encourages the interaction of theory and practice rather than their traditional separation.
Based at the University of Cambridge, CMPCP features partnerships with King’s College London, the University of Oxford, and Royal Holloway, University of London, and close affiliations with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal College of Music. It is undertaking five complementary research projects with associated workshops. Alongside these, the Centre has established an international Performance Studies Network to foster collaborative research between scholars and performers across the globe, in addition to awarding Visiting Fellowships and doctoral studentships and running three major conferences.
The study of musical performance has a long history within musicology, mostly in the fields of historical performance and music psychology, but only in recent years has a performance studies strand developed within the discipline. Musical performance studies now embraces a wide range of methodological approaches from such fields as music history, psychology, analysis, computational musicology, aesthetics, ethnomusicology, anthropology, cultural studies and sociology, while also rubbing shoulders with other art forms including drama, dance and the visual arts. CMPCP believes this diversity is to be celebrated; not only does it ensure greater vitality and viability, but it also paves the way for mutually enriching forms of engagement and collaboration.
The Centre’s Director Professor John Rink elaborates: “The fact that we can speak of performance studies as an integral part of today’s musicology is attributable to the development of a sizable international community of scholars, institutions to support their work, a large body of research, established modes of dissemination, shared beliefs and values, a common discourse, and a perceived identity. But in some ways we have only just begun; in the brave new world that might now follow, the immensely significant role of performers will be fully recognised by musicologists and thus will inform and shape their research.”
Over forty musicians, musicologists and external experts belong to the CMPCP team, along with the increasingly large membership of the Performance Studies Network. In working to consolidate research activity, CMPCP as a whole aims to generate new capacity and capability for future generations in part by uniting communities that to date have remained separate rather than engaging with one another.
The related case studies for the CMPCP is available on the AHRC website by following these links:
More information can be found on the CMPCP website (opens in a new window).
Written by Jenny Gordon.