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

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Abstract

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.

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APA

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

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