Listening and performing: experiences of twentieth-century British wind players

Pearson, I. E. (2017) Listening and performing: experiences of twentieth-century British wind players. In: he Listening Experience Database Project Conference 2015 Listening to music: people, practices and experiences, 24-25 October 2015, Royal College of Music.

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Accounts of life in the music profession by orchestral woodwind players have often been neglected in favour of didactic and aural sources. While scholars have interrogated recorded performances, evidence from the players themselves is vital in understanding the profession as a whole and thus the bigger picture. Reecting on material gathered for The Listening Experience Database (LED), particularly by the clarinettist Jack Brymer (1915–2003), we appreciate the importance of a player’s listening in shaping their performing practices. Brymer was primarily a listener, and a clarinettist only second. His listening to the playing of the oboist Léon Goossens (1897–1988) with its prominent use of vibrato became profoundly important to Brymer and to subsequent generations. In examining contemporary attitudes towards vibrato, we realise that Brymer’s use of the effect was quite controversial for its time. Indeed, the importance of the listening experience is reected in many accounts by woodwind players whose experiences are included in LED. These musicians, among the first for whom the aural and sonic experience of listening to a recording or broadcast began to resemble the sound itself, enjoyed careers before the era of globalisation. While technological advances have made music more easily accessible, they have also already eroded, and sometimes even eradicated, individual or regional or national characteristics and performing practices.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: The 'Listening to music: people, practices and experiences' collection from the 2015 conference can be found on the project website at
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Music aesthetics
Music History
Division: Musicology
Depositing User: Ms Emma Hewett
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2019 16:34
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 11:21

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