Reading music

September 18, 2014

The interview with Stuart Dunlop, the director of music at the University of East Anglia (HE & Me, 4 September), contained the very encouraging suggestion from Dunlop that “it [the university] has made a substantial commitment to music”. Many of the thousands of students reading for degrees in music in the UK, as well as the hundreds who teach them, will be surprised at this claim, however, since the UEA took the decision to close its School of Music within the past few years. They may be doubly surprised when they are made aware of the fact that UEA’s director of music moved there from the University of Reading, where he had held a similar post, again just after the university had closed its department of music.

None of this would be cause for comment were it not for the very clear statements to the effect that music “is for listening to, not reading about” in the article. Dunlop makes this point by quoting David Bedford’s programme note to his 1973 A Horse, His Name was Hunry Fencewaver Walkins, for guitar and ensemble. He then goes on to suggest (perhaps inadvertently) that those who do however think that music is for reading about – as well as listening to and performing – “are lost”. Music has been read about as well as listened to since antiquity, and has formed a central plank of scholarship in all ages and cultures. At a stage where music is now key to so much work in science and medicine, as well as the humanities and social sciences, to deny that place seems illogical at best, and runs counter to the experience of everyone involved.

“Music should have a place in the heart of every university,” Dunlop says, and who could disagree? But almost all universities in the country do exactly that by building on a 700-year-old tradition of studying music in departments of music. Here composition, performance and technology are integrated with historical, critical and analytical understanding in ways that educate and enrich the cultural life of students and staff and open up opportunities for new musical experiences across campus. This is the most surefooted, vibrant means of nurturing musical creativity in universities, a rich environment that ought to underpin the work of directors of music.

Mark Everist, president, The Royal Musical Association
Matt Brennan, chair, International Association for the Study of Popular Music-UK
Rachel Cowgill, chair, National Association for Music in Higher Education
Emma Hornby, chair, The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society
Julian Horton, president, Society for Music Analysis
Amanda Villepastour, chair, British Forum for Ethnomusicology
Graham Welch, chair, Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research
Graham Wells, chairman, The Galpin Society
Michael Wright, chair, Music Acoustics Group, Institute of Acoustics
Simon Zagorski-Thomas, chairman, Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production
Alexandra Wilson, Oxford Brookes University
Allan Moore, University of Surrey
Amanda Glauert, Royal College of Music
Andrew Kirkman, University of Birmingham
Andrew Sparling
Chris Banks, Imperial College London
Barbara Eichner, Oxford Brookes University
Barbara Kelly, Keele University
David Clarke, Newcastle University
Ronald Woodley, Birmingham City University
Michael Zev Gordon, University of Birmingham
Hugh Cobbe
Susan Bagust
Laurence Dreyfus, University of Oxford
Julian Rushton, emeritus professor, University of Leeds
Thomas Schmidt, University of Manchester
Susan Wollenberg, University of Oxford
Martin Clayton, Durham University
Christopher Fox, Brunel University London
Simon McVeigh, Goldsmiths, University of London
Jeanice Brooks, University of Southampton
Katharine Ellis, University of Bristol
Chris Collins, Bangor University
Christopher Dingle, Birmingham City University
Richard Witts, Edge Hill University
Warwick Edwards, University of Glasgow
William Drabkin, emeritus professor, University of Southampton
Sarah Hibberd, University of Nottingham
Susan Rankin, University of Cambridge
Philip Olleson, emeritus professor, University of Nottingham
Nicholas Cook, University of Cambridge
Nicholas McKay, Canterbury Christ Church University
Deborah Mawer, Birmingham City University
Jonathan Wainwright, University of York
Keith Chapin, Cardiff University
David Cooper, University of Leeds
Justin Williams, University of Bristol
Pauline Fairclough, University of Bristol
Annette Davison, University of Edinburgh
Robert Saxton, University of Oxford
Jan Smaczny, Queen’s University Belfast
Elaine Kelly, University of Edinburgh
Michael Finnissy, University of Southampton
Rebecca Herissone, University of Manchester
John Butt, University of Glasgow
Eric Clarke, University of Oxford
Ian Pace, City University London
Michael Spitzer, University of Liverpool
Nanette Nielsen, University of Nottingham
Martin Iddon, University of Leeds
Michael Spencer, University of Leeds
Richard Barrett
Lauren Redhead, Canterbury Christ Church University
Paul Attinello, Newcastle University
Katy Hamilton
Emily Payne, University of Oxford
Jonathan Dunsby, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
Tomas McAuley, Indiana University
Peter Atkinson
Paul Watt, Monash University
Simon Keefe, University of Sheffield

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Reader's comments (1)

Not to mention the way in which the department was closed. Why was there never an enquiry into this?

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