Introduction: making music matter in historic houses

Brooks, J. and Thormählen, W. (2021) Introduction: making music matter in historic houses. In: Sound Heritage: Making Music Matter in Historic Houses. Routledge Research in Music . Routledge. ISBN 9780367237165 (hardback) 9780429281327 (e-book)


The London cartoonist Tom Gauld's “Soundtrack to Spring” illustrates a domestic scene in today's New York City. The concept of the historic house is capacious and embraces a diverse range of former dwellings. A much smaller number of historic houses have been used to display musical instrument collections. House museums provide a compelling context for instruments and repertoires that were primarily devised for or consumed in domestic settings, furnishing the opportunity to see, and sometimes hear, historical music in acoustic and visual surroundings that are something like historical conditions. Music exists as sound in time, as performance and listening, and as a process in the ears, minds and memories of people. The material traces of musical activity in historic houses vary widely, and as Eric de Visscher and Mimi S. Waitzman observe, questions of provenance and completeness play a role in assessing their significance and potential for interpretation today.

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