A note about discipline: analysis, performance, and birdsong

Michael Hooper

Abstract


This article is about several contests. It begins with an overview of how the relationship between performance and composition has been recast in recent scholarship, focusing as it does on collaboration and improvisation, and it includes a discussion how these ideas have reformed some of the hierarchical assumptions about music making. The article then addresses ontological questions raised with an analytical focus on a recording of a Superb Lyrebird. In transforming an argument about performance and composition through the analysis of birdsong, the article aims to (i) disrupt some of the emerging disciplinarity that has been key to performance-centred research (ii) further challenge some of the disciplinary lines between performance and composition and (iii) open up new questions about scholarly work at large.
The article is therefore undisciplined, and, at the same time, it is formed from key arguments that are occupying musicology, such as — What is the role that performance plays in musicological discussion? What claims are made about musical ontologies? How can those claims be examined without relying on traditional definitions of music? How can analysis of a recording proceed without comparison with other, similar recordings? What, in other words, does performance analysis look like without the possibility of style? And, underlying all these questions, what work is undertaken in negotiating disciplinary lines?

Keywords


performance, birdsong, analysis, music theory

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ISSN: 1836-8336