A Musicology of Performance - Dorottya Fabian - ebook

This book examines the nature of musical performance. In it, Dorottya Fabian explores the contributions and limitations of some of these approaches to performance, be they theoretical, cultural, historical, perceptual, or analytical. Through a detailed investigation of recent recordings of J. S. Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, she demonstrates that music performance functions as a complex dynamical system. Only by crossing disciplinary boundaries, therefore, can we put the aural experience into words. A Musicology of Performance provides a model for such a method by adopting Deleuzian concepts and various empirical and interdisciplinary procedures.Fabian provides a case study in the repertoire, while presenting new insights into the state of baroque performance practice at the turn of the twenty-first century. Through its wealth of audio examples, tables, and graphs, the book offers both a sensory and a scholarly account of musical performance. These interactive elements map the connections between historically informed and mainstream performance styles, considering them in relation to broader cultural trends, violin schools, and individual artistic trajectories.A Musicology of Performance is a must read for academics and post-graduate students and an essential reference point for the study of music performance, the early music movement, and Bach’s opus.

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A Musicology of Performance

Theory and Method Based on Bach’s Solos for Violin

Dorottya Fabian


© Dorottya Fabian

Version 1.1. Minor edits made, October 2015.

Version 1.2. Minor edits made, June 2016

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work; to adapt the work and to make commercial use of the work providing attribution is made to the author (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Attribution should include the following information:

Dorottya Fabian, A Musicology of Performance: Theory and Method Based on Bach’s Solos for Violin. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.11647/OBP.0064

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The Australian Academy of the Humanities has generously contributed to the publication of this volume.

Digital material and resources associated with this volume are available at https://www.openbookpublishers.com/isbn/9781783741526#resources

ISBN Paperback: 978-1-78374-152-6

ISBN Hardback: 978-1-78374-153-3

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DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0064

Cover image: Juan Gris, ‘Violin’ (1913), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juan_Gris_-_Violin.jpg

All paper used by Open Book Publishers is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes) Certified.

Printed in the United Kingdom and United States by Lightning Source for Open Book Publishers

In memory of my father, Otto Somorjay.Your appreciation of performing musicians and your love of listening to music have been life-long inspirations.Thank you!





Dancing to Architecture?



The Problems of Researching and Writing about Music Performance


Problems with Historical Investigations of Music Performance


Is HIP a Modern Invention/Aesthetic or Does it Have Historical Grounding?


Data versus Narrative–Letting Go of Dancing or Returning to the Dance Floor?



Summary: Recordings, Aims and Method



Theoretical Matters



Cultural Theories


HIP and Modernism


Modernism versus Postmodernism


HIP as a Mirror of Cultural Change


Aesthetics and Value Judgment: Beauty and the Sublime



Analytical Theories


Music Performance Studies


Empirical and Psychological Studies of Performance



Music Performance and Complex Systems


Gilles Deleuze and Difference in Music Performance


Music Performance as Complex Dynamical System



Performance Studies, Oral Culture and Academia


Research Roles: Performing Music or Analysing Performance?


Oral Cultures and the Aurality of Music Performance


Keeping Music Performance in the Aural Domain


Academia Once More






Violinists, Violin Schools and Emerging Trends






Violin Schools



The Influence of HIP on MSP



Diversity within Trends and Global Styles



Overall Findings and Individual Cases


Trends in Particular Movements


The Importance of Ornamentation






Analyses of Performance Features



Tempo Choices








Problems of Aesthetics and Notation Practices


The Role of Delivery


The Performance of Embellishments


Diversity—Once More


Ornamenting or Improvising?







Dotted Rhythms


Rhythmic Alteration


Rhythm and Musical Character



Bowing, Articulation and Phrasing


Bowing and Timbre


Multiple Stops


Phrasing and Dynamics






Affect and Individual Difference: Towards a Holistic Account of Performance



Differences within the MSP and within the HIP Styles


The Loure


MSP Interpretations


HIP Interpretations


The Gavotte en Rondeau


HIP: Wallfisch and Huggett


MSP: Lev and Girngolts


Menuet I-II



Multiple Recordings of Violinists


Gidon Kremer


Rachel Barton Pine


Christian Tetzlaff


Sigiswald Kuijken


Viktoria Mullova



The Holistic Analysis of Interpretations


“Subjective” Aural Analysis: The D minor Giga


“Objective” Measures: The A minor Grave and G minor Adagio


Perception of Affect



Idiosyncratic Versions and Listeners’ Reactions


Thomas Zehetmair


Monica Huggett


The E Major Preludio






Conclusionsand an Epilogue: The Complexity Model of Music Performance, Deleuze and Brain Laterality






Where to from Here?—Epilogue


The Brain and its Two Worlds


List of Audio Examples


List of Tables


List of Figures









The publication of the book was assisted by subventions from the Australian Academy of Humanities and the School of the Arts and Media of UNSW Australia.

This project has also been supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP0879616) and a UNSW Australia Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Special Studies program in 2010, during which I took up a visiting fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge University which proved an ideal environment for focused work. In 2014 I received some tutoring and marking relief from the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW that contributed significantly to my ability to bring this project to a close.

I would like to thank my research assistants Bridget Kruithof, Elizabeth Cooney, Hae-Na Lee and Amanda Harris for help with data collection and some measurements; Daniel Bangert, Jennifer Butler, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Eitan Ornoy, Sean Pryor, Dario Sarlo, and Emery Schubert for insightful and corrective comments on earlier drafts; Kumaran Arul for encouragement and Ellen Hooper for stimulating discussions about performance research and Deleuze; two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions; Rachel Barton-Pine for her generosity in providing me with recordings of her concerts; and Alessandra Tosi and Bianca Gualandi of the superb editorial team at Open Book Publishers who helped make the multi-media presentation possible. I thank Corin Throsby for preparing the index.

Although I prepared a rough draft in 2011, due to other work commitments I could not return to it until 2014, so this book has had a long gestation and underwent substantial rethinking and re-writing. Sections, mostly on ornamentation and the interaction between period and mainstream playing styles have been presented at various academic gatherings. I wish to note my gratitude to Jane Davidson (University of Western Australia, Perth), Gary McPherson (Music, Mind and Wellbeing, University of Melbourne, Australia), Clive Brown and David Milsom (Leeds University), Ingrid Pearson (Royal College of Music, London), Jane Ginsborg (Royal Northern College of Music Manchester) for the invitations. Thanks are also due to the organizers of conferences in Aveiro (Portugal) and at the Orfeus Institute (Ghent), for the opportunity to present, and to the audiences for valuable questions and comments. An article on ornamentation in recent recordings of J. S. Bach’s Solos for Violin was published in Min-ad, the Israeli Musicological Society’s peer-reviewed journal. I thank them for kindly allowing me to re-use some of that material in chapter four of this book.

I would also like to record the generosity of John Butt, Janice Stockigt, Samantha Owens, and Neal Peres da Costa who wrote supporting letters to the Australian Academy of Humanities when I applied to them for a publications subvention. Thank you!

I am grateful to Katalin Komlós for noting some additional misprints and notation errors in one of the score examples and thank Open Book Publishers, especially Bianca Gualandi, for their prompt action in correcting them for edition 1.2 (June 2016).

1. Dancing to Architecture?

© Dorottya Fabian, CC BY http://dx.doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0064.01

Framing all the great music out there only drags down its immediacy. […] Writing about music is like dancing about architecture—it’s a really stupid thing to want to do.

Elvis Costello (b. 1954), singer-songwriter1

Starting this book with such a quote is not just a flippant rhetorical device. It flags my very strongly felt unease regarding the subject matter of the undertaking and my research in general. It is not that I agree with music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), who famously began his thesis The Art of Performance by stating that “a composition does not require a performance in order to exist. […] The reading of the score is sufficient,”2 thus similarly negating the importance of his topic. No, I believe all perception of music is performative whether it is reading a score, hearing with one’s inner ears, imagining, playing and singing, or listening to someone else performing. I even contend that when we say “music,” when Elvis Costello speaks of “great music,” we think of performances, sounds that “live” in our bodies, in our memories. We do not think of inscriptions on pages (scores) even if we are speaking of western art music with its long tradition of notated, authored compositions. And this is exactly why it is so difficult—if not stupid—to talk or write about it. When we do, we are trying to express in words that is in effect, a subjective, physical-affective experience. So a better question might be, “Why is it that we cannot readily recover for our ordinary speech what is so tantalizingly offered by practice?”3 If this question seems sensible then we have identified the reason why we need a musicology of performance.

Musicology—a discipline invented in nineteenth-century Austria and Germany along the analogies of philology, historical and literary studies—has traditionally been concerned with the written text of music. To a great extent it still is. However, over the past few decades there has been an exponential growth in scholarship that focuses on music performance. The contention of this book is that we need a better theoretical framework for such studies; a framework that enables engagement with this richly complex phenomenon so that “talking about music” may be regarded less like “dancing to architecture,” less of “a stupid thing to want to do.”

The theoretical framework and analytical approaches I propose in this book are for studying musical performance. They do not shift the thinking about music to the different paradigm advocated by Nicholas Cook: music as performance.4 I am interested in a musicology that might assist us to deconstruct the complex that music performance entails: the act and its perception, the aesthetic and the technical, the cultural and the historical, the personal and the common. Therefore I propose a model that engages not only with the various elements and aspects but, importantly, with the interactions of these. I argue that music performance shows overwhelming similarities to the characteristics of complex dynamical systems. We may gain a better understanding of its layers and the functioning of its contributing elements if we approach it with an adequately complex method. I will demonstrate this by studying forty recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (BWV1001-BWV1006, dated 1720) made during the past thirty years or so. In this introductory chapter I will first outline the problems we face when studying classical music performance as well as some of the specific questions and debates that relate to playing music composed almost 300 years ago. In the second part of the chapter I will introduce my material and outline how I proceed in the rest of the book.

1.1. Problems in Researching and Writing about Music Performance

Music perception is multi-modal, whence it lays the crux of our problem. The role of visual, spatial and kinaesthetic inputs and sensations has been repeatedly demonstrated. What we hear depends on the context, on what we see, on our disposition and health, and our prior experiences and knowledge; on our mental and muscle memory, and the function of mirror neurons, not to mention “species-saving” mechanisms of evolutionary significance.5 Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) considered perception an extraordinarily creative mental act while Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) called for a more “holistic theory incorporating embodiment and action.”6 The music theorists David Lewin argued that “musical perception was a type of skill, built over time, which can manifest in an infinite number of creative responses.”7 He claimed that it was erroneous and leading to false dichotomies to “suppose that we are discussing one phenomenon at one location of phenomenological space-time when in fact we are discussing many phenomena at many distinct such locations.”8

It is indeed difficult to accept the view that our perceptual experiences may be understood on cognitive terms alone. However, it is equally difficult to be convinced by models that discount the role of cognitive processes and endeavour to explain everything in neurological or evolutionary terms. As Merleau-Ponty noted, “the distinction between subject and object is blurred in my body […].”9 Or, as Günther Stern [Anders] (1929-1930) opined, “When listening to music we are out of the world and in music.”10 This sounds rather romantic, does it not?—even though it goes beyond the romantic notion of music communicating the inexpressible. Anders’ formulation, as I see it, implies that listening to music is inwardly in direction. It is internalized (unlike sight that canvasses the outside world); it has no objective subject, and in this regard John Lennon’s quip might ring quite true as it evokes another very internalized and personal experience: “Listen, writing about music is like talking about fucking. Who wants to talk about it? But you know, maybe some people do want to talk about it.”11

The “talking about” music performance has long been the domain of music critics on the one hand, and music psychologist on the other hand, both with characteristics that duly raises the question of “why bother.” The former deals in metaphorical description and tends to reflect normative thinking. Given the space limits of most magazines and dailies, reviews tend to be very short, having no room for detailed observation or definition of subjective terms. More recently they often include phrases to the effect, “you really need to hear the disk, it is not possible to describe it properly.” The latter, that is music psychology, is driven by empiricism and laboratory testing. As such it is limited to what it can measure and test. Although recent developments in technology make their investigations increasingly sophisticated and influenced by neuro-science, the tendency to look for universals through what is measurable yields results of moderate interest to musicians and lovers of music. These studies are not really concerned with either the phenomenological experience or the aesthetic-affective impact of technical and stylistic differences. And when they do, the results do not necessarily provide particularly penetrating new insights. Instead, they simply confirm what practicing musicians have known for long through practice.12 For example, they have rightly noted the importance of visual cues in music performance and drew attention to it when most investigations focused on audio-only formats—both in terms of performer-to performer communication and, more importantly, perhaps, for listeners’ enjoyment and aesthetic judgement.13By now, however, psychological research into the multi-modal perception of music performance seems to be focusing on anythingbut the aural sensation and perception, as witnessed at a highly successful conference on the topic held at the University of Sheffield in March 2015. Yet musical gestures—aurally perceived gestures as well as gestures made visible to the mind through aural stimulus—are crucial in the affective communication between performer and listener, between “the music” and the perceiver.

I mention gesture because it is a “hot topic” nowadays. Three edited books have been published on music and gesture in the past ten years and they provide important propositions that would benefit from systematic psychological, cognitive or neurological investigations.14 Several of the contributing writers address the multi-modal and experiential perception of music. Rolf Godøy, for instance notes that “music perception is embodied in the sense that it is closely linked with bodily experience” and it “is multi-modal in the sense that we perceive music with the help of both visual/kinematic images and effort/dynamics sensations, in addition to the ‘pure’ sound.”15 Tapping into the mentioned debate between the Husserlian emphasis on “cognitive processes” and the Merleau-Pontian emphasis on the embodied sensation, that “thought and sensation as such occur only against a background of perceptual activity that we always already understand in bodily terms,”16 Godøy states that “ecological knowledge in listening, [means] knowledge acquired through massive experience of sound-sources in general and musical performances in particular.” He adds: “[…] the main point is […] not so much the kinematics (the gesture trajectory shapes that we see) as it is the dynamics of movement (the sensation of effort that we feel through our embodied capacity for mental simulation of the action of others).”17

In a similar vein, Lawrence Zbikowski proposes the possibility of “no correlation between the gesture and the sound that produced it” and argues that “gesture [and music] give access to a dynamics, imagistic mode of thought that is inaccessible to language.”18 As such it may function like a metaphor by reflecting “a conceptual mapping” of knowledge in one domain to the experience in another domain. The multi-modal perception of music and the subjectivity of meaning are underlined by such assertions, and highlight the difficulties commentators on music performance face. Yet our fascination is such that we do not give up easily. The dance to architecture goes on.

Focusing on actual rather than metaphorical gestures but similarly building on James Gibson’s ecological theory of hearing and listening,19 Luke Windsor argues: “Gestures are actions that musicians make, and the supreme virtue of music in this respect is that it can make audible gestures that are near invisible.”20 I propose that deciphering these gestures that are made audible by music is a key to a better understanding of aural modes of communication, of our capacity for “imagistic thought” that are visible only to our minds but triggered by sound. We want to talk about music because we are fascinated by our experience and want to understand why and how these strongly felt reactions come about.

A comprehensive approach to the study of music performance is therefore important. It paves the road towards such insights. How, in what manner does sound specify the actions of performers and how do these aural cues give meaning to the musical experience? My analyses will aim to answer these questions step by step. First looking at the separate performance elements and then contemplating their contribution to the overall effect. Given our multi-modal, cognitive as well as embodied and affective perception of music, analysis must attempt to consider cues not in isolation but in their complex, non-linear and dynamic interactions with each-other as well as with both the performer’s and the listener’s historical-cultural disposition. This complexity hints at the biggest problem experimental investigations of music performance face: for such an understanding “we must imagine a hearing that involves no lapse of attention and a perfect operation of all the faculties—sensation, memory, understanding, imagination, and so on. In an actual, empirical hearing it is difficult to imagine such perfection.”21 In contrast, in an analytical, contemplative framework that relies on rich, empirically derived data and a transdisciplinary approach the chances seem better to achieve this goal. It is this kind of musicology of performance that I propose.

Problems with Historical Investigations of Music Performance

It is not only the multi-modal nature of our engagement with music that causes problems in investigations of musical performance. There are also the historical, cultural and aesthetic dimensions to be accounted for. How and why does a performance evolve? How and why do styles of interpretation change? How do performers interact with the past and the present; how do they influence each-other? Are stylistic practices developing through communities sharing aesthetic sensibilities, geographical location, cultural or educational history? What is the current scene of performing the music of Bach like compared to earlier times? Are there trends and if so, who are the trend setters? The availability of more than one hundred years of recordings makes such investigations possible. In fact the study of sound recordings as evidence of changing performing styles has been a growing field of musicological investigation since the mid-1990s.

The explosion of digital reissues of old recordings at the end of the twentieth century suddenly put the history of music performance on centre stage as hundreds of items from early catalogues have had again become easily accessible. These provided fascinating and undeniable evidence for considerable changes in the interpretations of canonical compositions within the European concert tradition. Normative thinking regarding how Beethoven, or Bach, or any other composer’s music “should go” was challenged, eventually leading to Nicholas Cook’s call for a re-evaluation of the framing of musicological investigations to be not music as text (scores, compositions), but music as performance. Or how I prefer to think about it: music as sound.

Anything that develops so rapidly brings with it the danger of “running ahead of itself.” Understandably, historians have focused on the earlier recordings and on the playing of musicians of bygone eras. Many of them (e.g. Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Beniamino Gigli, Tito Gobbi, Adelina Patti, Pablo Casals, Ignacy Jan Paderewsky, Alfred Cortot, the Lehner Quartet, Willam Mengelberg, Bruno Walter, to name a few) are legendary and becoming familiar with their artistry is not only informative regarding earlier styles of playing or singing but also satisfies curiosity. But a narrative of the history of twentieth-century performance styles that is based primarily on studying earlier musicians while relying on impressionistic information regarding more recent or living artists, leads to false conclusions. In this book I aim to supplement this near singular focus of detailed research on early recordings and pre-war artists by similarly engaged, systematic work on current musicians. This is important to do for an accurate picture to emerge and to prevent potentially unwarranted conclusions regarding a “golden age” (that is, pre-1930s) from taking hold.22

A lack of sufficient balance in scholarly attention may also foster premature notions about the roles various stakeholders and cultural-historical-social forces play in the development of performing styles and interpretative approaches. I will explore these at length in the next chapter. So here I only introduce some of the key issues that are problematic and need further investigation.

A commonly expressed view is that the recording industry has fostered a de-personalisation of musical expression through its demand for technical perfection and repeatability, that performances have become much less individual than they used to be during the proverbial “golden age” prior to and at the beginning of sound recordings.23 Theorists of music performance in the second half of the twentieth century also seem to be of the opinion that performances today are less communicative because they are less detailed.24

The individual liberties observed in early recordings, including piano rolls, are of course stunning for a modern listener. Performances have an air of spontaneity because they do not seem to strive for uniformity of tone or phrasing, steadiness of tempo, or ensemble and (in case of pianists) hands co-ordination, and because they freely arrest the musical movement to highlight a melodic pitch, or glide and “scoop” to notes of affective significance. Importantly, the flexibilities heard in these recordings are of a “fluid” nature; they sound very engaged because they seemingly follow unhinged the texture and assumed dramatic impetus of the music. However, closer study reveals that these performance characteristics were quite common during the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; they represent the general trend, the convention.25 They seem individual and idiosyncratic to us only because our current conventions are very different. Systematic and comprehensive analyses are important—whether dealing with old or recent performances—if we wish to avoid the problems of premature generalizations and misrepresentation of historical-cultural developments. Performances are constantly changing and evolving. The impressions about conventions in the 1980s and 1990s reported in narratives of the recorded history of performing western classical music may not hold water when considering more recent performances, or specific repertoires.

Nevertheless, broad and unsystematic listening to classical music seems to confirm, at a basic level, that performance has been “tidied up.”26 There is ample evidence of current players’ dazzling technical proficiency, and this precision of intonation and ensemble, steadiness of tempo, accuracy of rhythm, bow and vibrato control, dexterity, virtuosity and so on have become minimum standards. The often less polished and more wayward playing on early recordings, on the other hand, may make such performances sound more personal and musically engaged because of their seeming vulnerability and the ad hoc, “in the moment” solutions musicians are able to pull off.27 But what are the assumed characteristics of the modern style?

Since in this book I study performances of Bach’s Solos for violin, it seems appropriate to report how the “modern” style is described in literature specific to violin playing. Eric Wen refers to a “codification of violin technique,” namely a focus on the left hand and “overemphasis on vibrato at the expense of shadings in the bow.” This, Wen claims, “led to an increase in digital facility [and] set a standard in sound production which lacked variety.”28 Jaap Schröder explains the situation by highlighting that the modern legato stroke, which is based on the whole bow being under a certain pressure, “tend[s] to produce a straight and uninteresting tone that must be made more attractive through vibrato.”29 Mark Katz agrees but also posits a direct link between the increased prominence of vibrato and the advent of sound recording. In his view, during the 1910s-1920s vibrato may have been considered an aid in adding personality in the absence of visual contact and also helped project the tone into the recording equipment—while also hiding imprecision in intonation.30 In short, a more homogeneous tone has developed aided by standardized and continuous vibrato and seamlessly even up-and-down bow strokes. The aesthetic preference for unity and smoothness has also fostered fingering that enables the use of single strings for the entire length of phrases. As each string of the violin has a slightly different timbre and because one cannot use vibrato on open strings, violinists have tended to shift hand position to avoid open strings and create a unified tone by remaining on the same string for a given melodic passage. Later I will explain the differences between this way of playing and what historical sources tell us about early eighteenth-century practice. However, it remains to be seen if currently recording violinists subscribe to this modern aesthetic when performing J. S. Bach’s Solos.

As I have already mentioned earlier, in spite of these observations, their general arguments regarding the current state of affairs are not necessarily entirely accurate. Although the grand narrative of increasingly less “interesting,” more homogeneous performance practice dominates public and scholarly opinion, these are based on broad impressions, not systematic examinations. Yet by now several data-rich studies exist that demand a more refined account of how performance styles are developing and what characteristics are typical today (cf. fn. 25). On the one hand, they point to the fact that trends and fashions existed in earlier times also, while on the other hand, they reveal considerable variety among recent versions of given repertoires, thus throwing the theory of growing homogeneity into doubt.31 Furthermore, it is recognized that every generation expresses nostalgia towards a “golden age” which invariably seems to refer to the period during which that generation gained its formative musical experiences.32 Whether idealizing the performances of certain teachers and older artists or gradually canonizing particular aspects of their playing or musical approach, when a performance style becomes a convention it also becomes normative, fostering a level of uniformity: one orthodoxy gradually replaces another.33 The problems with currently available historical studies of music performance are becoming increasingly transparent.

Is HIP a Modern Invention/Aesthetic or Does it Have Historical Grounding?

Another problem, perhaps more pertinent for the case study in this book, is the reception and critical theory of what we call historically informed performance, or HIP. Without wanting to pre-empt the discussion of this complex area in chapter two I should explain here some of the stakes involved.

At the beginning of sound recordings the most often performed repertoire was from the nineteenth century and many works from periods prior to Mozart were hardly known at all. The revival of early music became an important preoccupation of musicians throughout the twentieth century but in particular during the post WWII decades of the 1950s to the 1980s. The history and aesthetics of the “early music” or “authenticity movement,” as it was originally called, have been mapped from a range of viewpoints. Harry Haskell wrote primarily about its history; I investigated its stylistic development; Richard Taruskin and John Butt theorized its ideologies and cultural connections; while Bruce Haynes focused on articulating stylistic and aesthetic differences among various twentieth-century approaches to repertoire, to name but only a few larger studies.34

During the course of the movement not only forgotten repertoire but also old instruments and past performance conventions have been revived. Or so people specializing in HIP claim. They assert that by studying period instrumental treatises, by playing on historical instruments or copies thereof and by implementing ornamentation, articulation, bowing, tonguing and fingering techniques recommended in historical sources, they are able to recreate performing conventions that were typical at the time of composition. Critics of the movement argue, on the other hand, that HIP is not much else than a selective cherry-picking of elements our modern sensibilities like; their sum total has little historical credence, in fact they are essentially similar to the mainstream performance (MSP) style.

Although currently less discussed, the extent to which HIP is an invented, modern aesthetic tradition is still a matter for debate. As I will show in the next chapter, and throughout the book, a systematic and comprehensive analysis of recordings and repertoire does not support a generalized view of HIP. The analogies between the styles of MSP and HIP are not water tight when it comes to performances of Bach’s Solos for violin. “It depends” – as a lawyer would say and as I will show in chapters three to five. More importantly, performers have moved on, and believing that what might have been true of the 1970s and 1980s still holds today is naive. One constantly has to re-evaluate findings about “current practice,” because practice never stands still. When the theoretical framework and analytical approaches proposed in this book are implemented a more nuanced picture develops that allows for the complexities to shine through and a fairer account of what performers do to be formulated.

Data versus Narrative–Letting Go of Dancing or Returning to the Dance Floor?

Having outlined problems encountered in various approaches to investigating music performance it is time to address the dilemma the “systematic and comprehensive” analyst faces: How to “talk” (write) about recordings meaningfully and interestingly? When interpretations are played one after the other, the differences between them seem all too obvious. Yet, when enlisting scientific apparatus to account for these differences, the resulting descriptive words, numerical tables and graphs often seem opaque and thus hopelessly inadequate; really, like overkill. As Taruskin put it, “data can’t solve aesthetic issues. To think it can is utopian, and all utopian thinking ends up being authoritarian.”35 I might retort that without data all we have is opinion. But what knowledge do we gain? How much and what kind of detail do we need? On what grounds and through what kinds of expression can we verbalise sensed aural and temporal experiences? What do we learn that we did not know already, even if only intuitively or perceptually? This, of course, may be asked of many academic endeavours, especially in the arts. In this book I argue that we need much more detailed empirical data before an evidence-based narrative of the historical-cultural evolution of performance styles can be written because the devil is indeed in the detail. We need not only more data but we need to approach our subject, music performance, differently because it is like a complex system and complex systems are not “constituted merely by the sum of [their] components but also by the intricate relationships between these components. In ‘cutting up’ a system, the analytical method destroys what it seeks to understand.”36

I argue that individual performances are so varied and unique that making generalizations on the basis of a select few samples is simply not adequate from a scholarly point of view. It is impossible to know whether an observed element is typical until we have widespread evidence for it. Furthermore, personal traits cannot be distinguished from conventions until a representative sample has been thoroughly investigated. As José Bowen noted, “It is altogether too easy to mistake a performance characteristic for a unique interpretive feature when it is, in fact, a general style trait of an unfamiliar style.”37 For instance, a-synchrony between parts (e.g. melody versus accompaniment) could be regarded as a unique feature of, say, Paderewsky’s playing, until one realises that most pianists trained during the nineteenth century performed that way. The seemingly idiosyncratic style turns out to be a historical convention.

Groups of performers belonging to the same generation or “school” of performing practice and playing within broadly similar stylistic conventions nevertheless exhibit personal characteristics otherwise they would not likely become soloists with established careers. To account for these individual artistic signatures one has to study differences in degree, not just in kind. The problem is that once such evidence is carefully amassed and examined with a fine-toothed comb, the richness and variety of observations are staggering. The resulting picture tends to be so complex that drawing neat conclusions appears to be farcical, if not outright untenable, for anybody intimately familiar with the data. The modernist scientific project of categorizing, of putting products in the either/or baskets quickly fails. It is all too clear that for any particular finding there could be several counter examples. Take for instance Richard Tognetti’s recording of Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. If one listens to the B minor Partita’s Sarabande movement, one may come to the conclusion that Tognetti adds ornamentsand embellishments where appropriate, at least in slow movements. However, the only other movements in which a few additional embellishments are heard are the E Major Gavotte and the Andante of the A minor Sonata.

To preview some of the results of my analyses of tempo in chapter four, here is a more general example of how varied some findings can be. In conversations people often claim that HIP performers play faster than MSP instrumentalists. However, my systematic study of Bach recordings reveals three important characteristics that correct this generalization. Firstly, it is not so much the tempo that is faster in HIP versions of slow movements, but the perceptionof the tempo. The overall duration is frequently similar but because of the different approach to articulation and rhythm, the HIP versions tend to move along at an apparently brisker pace. Secondly, HIP players tend to play slow movements faster while MSP players often have a more virtuosic speed in fast movements, especially in finales. The exceptions among HIP violinists include Rachel Podger, whose tempos are usually fast all round, and Monica Huggett, whose tempos are among the slowest regardless of movement type. Thirdly, and as a consequence of the second observation, HIP performers tend to use less extreme tempos than MSP performers (i.e. the differences between the speeds of fast and slow movements is less pronounced). It is clear then, that generalizing on the basis of select examples (e.g. an impression gained from listening to fast or slow movements) can lead to incorrect claims. But of course preparation of comprehensive data is time consuming and the results are likely to be valid only for the particular repertoire examined. Moving along at a snail pace is not conducive for an academic career and many people rather read provocative assertions written in an engaging and persuasive style then hair-splittingly detailed accounts with no neat or debatable conclusions, however accurate they might be. After all, most of us prefer to dance (especially when it comes to music) than to labour in a lab.

Finally, we circle back to the issue of subjectivity of perception and the problems with quantification. Aural analysis is often more instructive in identifying nuanced but clearly audible individual differences that may “disappear” once measured data are averaged, percentages calculated and other means of numerical-statistical or graphic representations are enlisted to show “scientifically” potential trends and regularities. Surely, one has to decide if the aim is to find generalizable trends or to account for individual differences. Yet in either case quantification or visualization are essential because without them the aurally based observations may be tainted by the researcher-listener’s own biases, musical attention and memory. To recall Hasty cited earlier, in empirical investigations of listening it is difficult to maintain the “perfect operation of all the participating faculties—attention, sensation, memory, understanding, imagination, and so on.” What one can hope for is to constantly move back and forth (or in and out) of all these faculties and engage with them one by one while also paying attention to their interactions and combined effect. My proposed approach entails exactly such a conduct and my analytical comments throughout chapters three to five are peppered with cross references looking forward and back across the various observations made according to a particular “faculty” and questioning or confirming previous or later conclusions.

Overall the aim of my analyses is to emphasize the importance of individual differences and to advocate for a more nuanced, more circumspect picture of “general trends”; to be less lofty and more honest about “how things are.” I posit that for a while—until we have accumulated significant quantities of systematically gathered, specific information—the main goal of historical studies of performance and sound recordings needs to be the provision rather than the explication of data. And the data must be generated by a combination of quantitative and qualitative-descriptive analyses and be supported by ample Audio examples.38 If we are serious about putting the performer centre stage and claiming for her or him a pivotal role in the identity and reception of western classical compositions (or “pieces,” to make their identity more fluid than the words “work” or “composition” may imply),39 we must undertake the painstaking data gathering and analytical tasks that were typically applied to written texts / scores until the 1980s. We need to deconstruct and name the specifics constituting players’ artistry, because style history is the history of choices performers make. If we wish to understand how these choices fit with or reflect broader cultural movements we first need to know their exact nature as far as it is possible to know, and how they vary from one generation to the next.

1.2. Summary: Recordings, Aims and Methods

Being a historical musicologist, this book is primarily a historical-analytical investigation of music performance. Given the diverse approaches noted throughout the introduction and problems encountered in all of them, my contention is that we need a different approach and a different theoretical framework. I propose to consider music performance as a complex dynamical system and to use comprehensive analytical methods that are commensurate with the object of study. My aim is to model such an approach through the case study of Bach recordings and meanwhile demonstrate the complex, non-linear and dynamic nature of music performance.

As I have noted, there seems to be a lack of systematic work on contemporary styles of music performance; the depth and detail of discussion rarely going beyond that of a record review.40 Therefore I intend to start correcting the balance by putting the contemporary performer in the spotlight. Because the earliest recordings featured singers and violinists, much has been written about legendary violinists of the early twentieth century.41 It seems appropriate then to also focus on violinists, but (mostly) living ones. As for repertoire, J. S. Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (BWV1001-BWV1006) are ideal because of their long and varied performance history that enables engagement with HIP / MSP debate.42 Importantly, they are unaccompanied pieces, making the examination of performance choices less complicated.

The forty recordings selected for study were all made between 1980 and 2010 except for Sergiu Luca’s. His was issued in 1977 and is included here because it was the first to use a baroque bow and to attempt a historically informed interpretation of the Solos.43 I do not at all claim that my selection is fully inclusive of all recordings made during the designated period of 1980 to 2010, but I certainly believe they form a substantial collection and a representative cross section of such recordings (Table 1.1).44 I also believe that recordings can be studied as if they were performances because the listener experiences them as such, regardless of how they might have come about.

In a study like this, it is not enough to note the date of a recording and its release on the market. It is also important to be aware of the age of the performers. It has been shown that performers develop their personal style early on and then tend to stick with it by and large throughout their careers.45 The majority of violinists studied here were born in or after 1945, except for Oscar Shumsky (b.1917), Ruggiero Ricci (b.1918), Jaap Schröder (b.1925), Gérard Poulet (b.1938), Rudolf Gähler (b.1941), Sergiu Luca (b.1943), Ugo Ughi (b.1944) and Sigiswald Kuijken (b.1944). The younger players, born since 1970, are represented by Lara St John (b.1971), Isabelle Faust (b. 1973), Rachel Barton Pine (b.1974), James Ehnes (b.1976), Hilary Hahn (b.1979), Ilya Gringolts (b.1982), Julia Fischer (b. 1983), Sergey Khachatryan (b.1985) and Alina Ibragimova (b.1985). Table 1.1 and the Discography provide the complete list and full details.

Table 1.1. Studied Recordings Listed by Chronology of Violinists’ Year of Birth


Year of birth

Recording / CD Release Date

Shumsky, Oscar


1979 / 1983

Ricci, Ruggiero


1992 (Concerts from 1988, 1991)

Schröder, Jaap HIP



Poulet, Gerard



Gähler, Rudolf



Luca, Sergiu HIP



Kuijken, Sigiswald HIP


1981 / 1983

Kuijken, Sigiswald HIP



Perlman, Itzhak



Edinger, Christiane



Van Dael, Lucy HIP



Kremer, Gidon



Kremer, Gidon



Holloway, John HIP


2004 / 2006

Szenthelyi, Miklós



Wallfisch, Elizabeth HIP



Huggett, Monica HIP



Poppen, Christoph



Mintz, Shlomo



Mullova, Victoria



Mullova, Victoria


1992-3 / 2006

Mullova, Victoria



Buswell, James


1989 / 1995

Lev, Lara



Beznosiuk, Pavlo HIP


2007 / 2011

Brooks, Brian HIP



Zehetmair, Thomas



Tognetti, Richard



Tetzlaff, Christian



Tetzlaff, Christian



Matthews, Ingrid HIP


1997 / 2001

Schmid, Benjamin



Podger, Rachel HIP



St John, Lara



Faust, Isabelle



Barton Pine, Rachel


1999 (Radio Broadcast)

Barton Pine, Rachel



Barton Pine, Rachel


2007 (Festival Concert, private recording)

Ehnes, James



Hahn, Hillary



Gringolts, Ilya



Fischer, Julia



Khachatryan, Sergey



Ibragimova, Alina



In this selection approximately twenty-five46 recordings represent non-specialist or “mainstream” violinists, with multiple recordings by Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Christian Tetzlaff and Rachel Barton Pine. There are eleven violinists representing the historically informed performance movement, with two recordings by Sigiswald Kuijken. Initially (and in this summary) I categorized violinists who play on modern violins and perform the broad gamut of the violin repertoire as representing “mainstream performance” (MSP), while those playing with eighteenth-century violins and bows (whether originals, copies, or reconstructions) and specializing in performing largely pre-1800 repertoire are regarded as “period” (HIP) violinists. However, it has been pointed out that the distinction between HIP and MSP is increasingly difficult to make as time passes. For instance, Colin Lawson and Robin Stowell noted the application of “period principles […] to mainstream situations” whereas in 2006 Eitan Ornoy demonstrated “clear similarities” between the styles of playing.47 This trend began when Nikolaus Harnoncourt and other HIP specialists started conducting large symphonic orchestras in the early 1980s, demonstrating that the HIP style was transferable to modern instruments. However, as noted in the previous section, there are also commentators who believe HIP was never really different from MSP. This book explores where things are now in this regard and one of its main findings is the revision of this initial categorization.

As a practical note, it needs to be said, that throughout the book I generally refer to Bach’s Sei Solo a Violino senza Bassoaccompagnato as the Solos and I abbreviate the identification of movements by stating the key of the sonata or partita of which they are a part, followed by the movement title. This ignores the fact that certain movements are in a different key from the work’s main tonality (e.g. the Andante of the A minor Sonata is actually in C Major) but should cause no confusion as to the identity of the excerpt. The spelling of the movement titles follows Bach’s own indication in the autograph manuscript.

To foreshadow some elements of this analysis, it can be noted that many of the younger players in the sample claim to have been influenced by HIP ideology (e.g. Zehetmair, Tetzlaff) and quite a few of them undertook periods of specialist training (e.g. Ibragimova) or regularly play with period ensembles (e.g. Barton Pine). According to the liner notes for their respective recordings, three MSP violinists use a baroque bow and / or gut strings: Rachel Barton Pine, Richard Tognetti, and Viktoria Mullova in 2008. On the other hand, Rudolf Gähler plays with the so-called curved-bow, also referred to as “Bach-bow” or “Vega-bow.” Although the arguments for using such a bow bespeak of a search for period practices, the playing style enabled by such bows is closer to the aesthetic principles upheld by the MSP tradition. The historical existence of such a bow has been discredited by researchers since the 1960s.48

This book is not the place to discuss at length what constitutes the performance characteristics of MSP or HIP in principle; there is plenty of literature on that as mentioned earlier. I will refer to them in detail later on, particularly in chapters two and four, as they relate to performance features I analyse. Here it should suffice to recall that, as we have seen in earlier comments on twentieth-century violin playing, in MSP the aesthetic ideal is essentially a purity and evenness of tone (achieved through vibrato and seamless bowing) in service of power and projection of the melody. Inflections are kept to the minimum to foster long-spun phrasing shaped through graded dynamics. In contrast, HIP takes its cue from the bass line and meter of a piece and inflects melodic-rhythmic-harmonic groups accordingly. The use of shorter, uneven bow strokes, bouncing rhythm and locally nuanced articulation of smaller musical units are among the main characteristics of such interpretations. These and other differences will of course be explored and expanded upon since they are key matters to consider when teasing out the qualitative differences between performances. Identifying them and explaining their characteristics and interactions provide the basis for a more textured description of performances and a more nuanced “categorization” of violinists.

Importantly, although versions on period instruments are contrasted with mainstream ones, my goal is not to assess historical verisimilitude or whether an interpretation reflects Bach’s possible intentions. The futility of such exercises has been well argued by others many times over, as discussed in the next chapter. The aim is neither a search for the ultimate “authentic,” “definitive,” or “normative” performance nor the matching of interpretations to particular editions, analytical observations, or performance suggestions, even though certain specific differences between HIP literature and execution are noted.49 My goal is, rather, to conduct a thorough examination of these recordings as a model for analysing performances as complex dynamic systems. Such an approach is likely to unveil the actual level of uniformity versus individuality in playing Bach’s Solos at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and thus contribute to a more circumspect narrative of baroque performance styles on record. Throughout I aim to problematize methods to show their limitations and how misleading the results of any one approach might be when used in isolation. Yet when used cumulatively, the various analytical approaches unpack the complex, dynamic network of interactions at play and allow us to see what performers do to achieve particular effects and how differences in execution lead to different readings of the music. At this point the “talking about music” ceases to be “like dancing to architecture”; it starts tapping into the holistic experience.

The different interactions and transformations such an approach unveils can be elucidated by reference to Deleuzian terminology and thinking. I will introduce these in chapter two as part of my argument for tackling music performance as a complex dynamical system. Once I modelled such an approach through chapters four and five but also chapter three, I return to this crucial matter in the final chapter to make the parallels more explicit.

To achieve my goals, both descriptive and quantitative methods need to be employed based on repeated close listening (aural analyses) and software assisted measurements of audio signals. When working with variants of a musical “text” the human brain is often more effective than current computer programs in discerning and sorting individual resemblances or nuances. The use of software is more advantageous in identifying basic or categorical differences and trends across the larger body of data. Moreover, since music performance is ephemeral—“evanescence is its essence” even if recorded—what is available to the listener-analyst is “only what is present in the moment, what is remembered of the past, and expectations for the future.”50 The data a computer might provide may have very little ecological validity. Contemplating the subjectively experienced sound is therefore essential, both globally as a whole and also in its details through close listening. While I focus more on the measurable in chapter four, in chapter five I aim to engage with the holistic and affective experience. However, both chapters are cross-referenced to highlight discrepancies between points of view and underscore the importance of the comprehensive, non-linear approach.

Violin technique is examined as far as vibrato is concerned while bowing is discussed in relation to articulation and phrasing as well as multiple stops and timbre. Expressive timing (rhythmic flexibility) is studied in detail as this contributes significantly to the performance style and plays a decisive role in aesthetic perception and in generating homogeneity or diversity among performances.51 Nevertheless, rhythmic flexibility and phrasing remain somewhat resistant to quantification and categorization. The discussion of them is therefore necessarily limited to a few detailed, striking examples and generalizations. Other elements, such as tempo choices, ornamenting, the shaping of dotted rhythms, the performance of multiple stops, and the extent of reliance on pulse and / or harmony to project musical character and structure lend themselves better to tabulation, transcription or various other forms of visualization. Together, I hope, they provide ample complementary evidence in support of my main points and arguments.

I would like to stress my conviction that, at the time of writing, the methods of studying musical performance have important limitations. Treading the fine line between “impartial” measurements and “subjective” description raises many problems throughout that I do not claim to be able to solve. But in my account I attempt to retain that semi-conscious moment of perception before I as a critic become “modern”; when I “still possess [a] pristine and unspoiled exoticism” and a sense of wonder about my subject; the moment before one tries to “desecrate” what one believes to be the phenomenon under investigation.52 I am interested as much in the sonic means that violinists use as the expressive effect that the sound creates. I want to avoid the obvious danger in attempting to use science to account for human experience: the danger that what is quantifiable may become equated with the phenomenon one originally set out to study. More often than not I am frustrated by the recognition that the “objectively” measurable in a performance does not seem to fully explain my impression of it and that words fail to grasp the internalized perception.

In the Epilogue of chapter six I contemplate the implications and significance of the crucial difference between holistic-affective perception and abstract analytical dissecting with reference to Ian McGilchrist’s proposition put forward in his 2009 book on brain laterality, The Master and his Emissary.53 The discrepancy between “scientific” data and “sensed experience” underlines the importance of multi-modal approaches; of cross-checking acoustically measured and subjectively perceived data and if in doubt, giving priority to the listening experience. Music performance is a complex aural system rooted in oral cultures, as discussed in chapters two and six. This book is an attempt to explain aspects of it and map interactions in the rather opposite domains of text (language) and sight (the visual) even though I also provide numerous Audio examples, and advocate for the “and / as well as” view instead of the “either / or” dichotomy.

In the next chapter I explore some of these theoretical-aesthetic and methodological concerns in much more detail and present my argument for an approach that embraces the complexity of music performance. Such an approach highlights the interactions among a performance’s varied and layered elements, allowing for a more balanced view that accounts for differences in degree, not just in kind. In the subsequent, central chapters I discuss the recordings that provide the empirical data, the case study, for my argument: first a more general overview (chapter three), then considerably detailed analyses (chapters four and five). At the end of the book (chapter six) I return to cultural issues and propose an alternative view of “how things [may] stand now,” at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

1 Cited from Quote Investigator: Exploring the Origins of Quotations (“Writing about Music is like Dancing about Architecture”), available at http://www.quoteinvestigator.com

2 Heinrich Schenker, The Art of Performance, ed. by Heribert Esser, trans. by Irene Schreier Scott (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 3.

3 Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 266.

4 Nicholas Cook, ‘Between Process and Product: Music and/as Performance,’ Music Theory Online,7/2 (April 2001), 1-12, http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.01.7.2/mto.01.7.2.cook.html

5 Anthony Gritten, ‘The Subject (of) Listening,’ Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 45/3 (2015), 203-219; Ian Cross and Iain Morley, ‘The Evolution of Music: Theories, Definitions and the Nature of the Evidence,’ Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis of Human Companionship, ed. by Stephen Malloch and Colwyn Trevarthen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 61-81.

6 Brian Kane, ‘Excavating Lewin’s “Phenomenology,”’ Music Theory Spectrum, 33 (2011), 27-36.

7 Kane, ‘Excavating,’ p. 27.

8 Here and elsewhere italics in original unless otherwise stated. David Lewin, ‘Music Theory, Phenomenology, and Modes of Perception,’ Music Perception, 3/4 (Summer 1986), 327-392 (p. 357).

9 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962 [1945]), p. 167 cited in Kane, ‘Excavating,’ p. 33.

10 Günther Stern [Anders], ‘Philosophische Untersuchungen zu musikalischen Situationen,’ typescript, Österreichisches Literaturarchiv der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Nachlass Günther Anders. ÖLA 237/04, p. 6 cited in Veit Erlmann, Reason and Resonance: A History of Aurality (New York: Zone Books, 2010), p. 312.

11 From an Interview with Playboy magazine in 1980. Cited in http://www.quoteinvestigator.com [‘Writing about music is like dancing to architecture’].

12 The reasons for the musician’s frustration with these studies is discussed, for instance, in J. Murphy McCaleb’s recent book Embodied Knowledge in Ensemble Performance (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014).

13 One of the first researcher of the visual aspect (body movements, appearance, etc.) of music performance was Jane W. Davidson, see, for instance, her ‘What Type of Information is Conveyed in the Body Movements of Solo Musician Performers?,’ Journal of Human Movement Studies, 6 (1994), 279-301.

14 Music and Gesture and New Perspectives on Music and Gesture, ed. by Anthony Gritten and Elaine King (Farnham: Ashgate, 2006 and 2011). See also Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning, ed. by Rolf Inge Godøy and Marc Lehman (New York and London: Routledge, 2010).

15 Rolf Inge Godøy, ‘Gestural Affordances of Musical Sound,’ In Musical Gestures: Sound, Movement, and Meaning, ed. by Rolf Inge Godøy and Marc Lehman (New York and London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 103-125 (p. 106).

16 Taylor Carman, ‘The Body in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty,’ Philosophical Topics, 27/2 (1999), 205-226 (p. 206), cited in Kane, ‘Excavating,’ p. 33.

17 Godøy, ‘Gestural Affordances,’ p. 118, referring to Vittorio Gallese and Thomas Metzinger, ‘Motor ontology: The Representational Reality of Goals, Actions and selves,’ Philosophical Psychology, 16/3 (2003), 365-338.

18 Lawrence M. Zbikowski, ‘Musical Gesture and Musical Grammar: A Cognitive Approach,’ in New Perspectives on Music and Gesture, ed. by Anthony Gritten and Elaine King (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 83-98 (pp. 84, 97).

19 James Gibson, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (London: Unwin Bros, 1966); idem, The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1979).

20 Windsor, Luke W., ‘Gesture in Music-making: Action, Information and Perception,’ in New Perspectives on Music and Gesture, ed. by Anthony Gritten and Elaine King (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 45-66 (p. 63).

21 Christopher Hasty, ‘The Image of Thought and Ideas of Music,’ in Sounding the Virtual: Gilles Deleuze and the Theory and Philosophy of Music (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 1-22 (p. 5).

22 The only study I am aware of that focuses on the performance characteristics of a more recent musician is Kevin Bazzana’s brilliant book, Glenn Gould: The Performer in the Work (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). There are also biographies and autobiographies of Yehudi Menuhin, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and Isaac Stern, among others.

23 For instance Timothy Day, A Century of Recorded Music (New Heaven and London: Yale University Press, 2000); Robert Philip, Performing Music in the Age of Recording (New Heaven and London: Yale University Press, 2004); Eric Wen, ‘The Twentieth Century,’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Violin, ed. by Robin Stowell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 79-91. This view is also evidenced in several authors’ contributions to The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music, ed. by Nicholas Cook et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

24 Richard Taruskin, ‘How Things Stand Now?’ Keynote address delivered at the Performa 11 conference, Aveiro Portugal, on 19 May 2011. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, ‘Recordings and Histories of Performance Style,’ in The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music, pp. 246-262.

25 Several authors have presented ample evidence for this claim. See for instance, Neal Peres Da Costa, Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012); David Milsom, Theory and Practice in Late Nineteenth-Century Violin Performance: An Examination of Style in Performance, 1850-1900 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003); Dorottya Fabian, ‘Is Diversity in Performance Truly in Decline? The Evidence of Sound Recordings,’ Context, 31 (2006), 165-180; idem, ‘Commercial Sound Recordings and Trends in Expressive Music Performance: Why Should Experimental Researchers Pay Attention?,’ in Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures, ed. by Dorottya Fabian, Renee Timmers, and Emery Schubert (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 58-79.

26 Philip, Performing Music, p. 232.

27 How spontaneous these interpretations are is, of course, questionable. In fact comparisons of multiple recordings by the same artists from the early period tend to show important similarities in terms of expressive gestures suggesting deliberate and controlled choice rather than momentary artistic impulse. Apart from the analytical investigations already cited, a recent doctoral thesis also provides corroborating evidence: Dario Sarlo, ‘Investigating Performer Uniqueness: The Case of Jascha Heifetz’ (PhD Thesis, Goldsmith College, University of London, 2010).

28 Wen, ‘The Twentieth Century,’ 89.

29 Jaap Schröder, Bach’s Solo Violin Works: A Performer’s Guide (London: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 29.

30 Mark Katz, Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004). This is not the place to discuss vibrato at length. Katz and others provide a detailed discussion that is much more complex than the citation here may imply. See also Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Changing Sound of Music: Approaches to Studying Recorded Musical Performance (London: CHARM, 2009), especially chapter five, http://www.charm.rhul.ac.uk/studies/chapters/intro.html

31 Bruno Repp, ‘Patterns of Expressive Timing in Performances of a Beethoven Minuet by Nineteen Famous Pianists,’