"Beyond the Score: Music as Performance" by Nicholas Cook

  • Edidin A
Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Beyond the Score: Music as Performance is a very ambitious book. Nicholas Cook describes his goal as " rethinking musicology. " The book is motivated by " my longstanding belief that the study of music has from the beginning been skewed…by its orientation towards music as writing " (2). Noting that an explosion of recent work on performance suggests that this view is widely shared, he writes that " My aim in this book is to add what weight I can to this belief, underline its radical implications for this disci-pline, and bring together a wide range of concrete proposals for how we might study mu-sic as performance and what we might learn from it " (2). So the book constitutes a sort of manifesto-with-examples. The first two chapters document and criticize the traditional orientation, and subsequent pairs of chapters pre-sent (both by description and exemplification) approaches to performance as an object of study in the sort of " rethought " musicology that Cook offers. This produces a fair degree of continuity and coherence among sections that can also be read independently. The en-tire book contributes to the articulation of Cook's proposed rethinking of musicology. But a reader interested in, say, the performing and listening body as objects of musico-logical study can get a rich sense of possibilities in that domain from chapters nine and ten without worrying about the rest. Cook is chiefly concerned with " performance within the tradition of Western 'art' music (hereafter WAM) " ; discussions of jazz improvisation and of visual gesture in rock performance are meant chiefly " to throw light on perfor-mance within the core WAM repertories on which musicology has traditionally been based " (2). The material on jazz improvisation is, however, substantial and fascinating, and the discussion of Jimi Hendrix in chapter nine stands well on its own.




Edidin, A. (2016). “Beyond the Score: Music as Performance” by Nicholas Cook. Performance Practice Review, 20(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.5642/perfpr.201520.01.01

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free