A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965


Like all the post here, this is provisional, subject to editing, deletion, reworking, expansion and contraction. It will be developed throughout the project in posts tagged with same category.

The core activities of this research includes working with living composers, performers and audiences, conducting interviews and bringing together the existing literature on the Wardour Castle Summer Schools. The existing literature exists in various forms, including recordings of oral history, and for this reason it is necessary to work within methodological frameworks that can incorporate both existing artifacts and the new materials generated directly from my research.

One of the most important reasons for conducting this research on this blog is that it will be a form that is familiar to most of those who I will be interviewing. It will also be familiar to those whose knowledge of these events are outside the existing literature and about whom I know nothing: this particular blog is locatable through the most familiar contemporary search methods and its ability to connect simply and easily with diverse sites will enable the participation of those outside my network of known contacts.

With one of the objectives of the project to increase the public accessibility of materials resulting from this research, the use of internationally recognized, fully documented procedures allows for the transparent flow of information between all those who have an interest in the discourse and research.

The ‘blog’ focuses categorizing its constituent items on an interconnected network. As such, it suggests a need for reconceiving fieldwork (both my proposed interviews and all extant previous interviews, and more broadly my engagement with the diversity of existing sources) as a dialogue involving multiple audiences, embedded within a widely interconnected framework (Kalir 2006, 236). This further suggests a methodology attuned to recent developments in modes of communication in which, for example, an interview with a composer on primetime television need not be considered different in function to an archival interview housed in the national archives.

Broadly, the theoretical model below is one that is formed from considerations of its theoreticality, and in drawing on a ‘design model’ will allow theory and practice to be closely related and constantly in flux. This methodology moves away from conceptions of ‘the ideal’ and ‘the real’ as temporally dislocated to form research outcomes that are ‘supply responsive to the uses that people make of them’ (Connor 2006). Of course, from a different perspective the unusual nature of this project within the musicological field places it outside a dialogue of ‘response’ and ‘use’. It is my hope that new audiences will emerge that differ from previous notions of fields of discipline.

In line with recent developments in anthropology, and following from Faubion, ‘problematizing inquiry and conceptualizing its objects’ are more at issue than ‘the practices of a particular conduct of inquiry’ (Marcus and Okely 2007, 354). In this light of Faubion’s observations, Marcus’s model for working disperses fieldwork (in my methodology construed more broadly as ‘research’) as a construction to acknowledge that:

research these days pulls a project into collaborations, collectivities, institutional arrangements and networks of various kinds that are not simply its objects, but are integral to the process of making knowledge out of the traditional individual, case-bounded project of fieldwork. (Marcus and Okely 2007, 355)

His conceptualization for this broad view of research derives from practices that are particularly compatible with the field of investigation of my proposal, namely the design process of the studio in fields such as art, design itself, and architecture.

Marcus fleshes the model to highlight the continuously dialogic relationship of the individual and the collective in the formation of knowledge. Since those engaged in this practice are diverse, and which incorporate competing voices, contradictory stances, and radically divergent understandings, the results have:

multiple accountabilities which are thought about and through the entire project, and so the final result is not final, at least conceptually – there is an ideology to design of open-endedness and of a work being a solution that is subject to revision by later and other work. (355)

There are two outcomes of this that I want to highlight. The first is that this model reconceives research as a practice that is familiar to the musicologist and to the subjects of musicological research. Furthermore, the model itself, and not simply the results, is available to feedback throughout the project. The aim is to bring new clarity to research for both its subjects and the musicologist. It is especially important to this project that those who participated in both the Wardour Castle Summer Schools and the histories (written, spoken, composed, performed) through which its significance is disseminated are not alienated by any of the processes of my research, but incorporated into a new, connected network. Also, it is my intention to add to the critical literature that surrounds the events, to better inform audiences who have already participating in its generation, and for those who are approaching it for the first time. One of the advantages of the design model is its simplicity and widespread familiarity.

Also of benefit is that:

Research conceived as a design process keeps attention focused on material – data sets – all along the way and insists on results that are closely accountable to it. Thus, it encourages theoretical work at the level of material – the stuff of fieldwork as I call it – and privileges found concepts that emerge from it. (356)

This will play a large part in working with discourses that have a relied upon surprisingly scant written accounts relative to the breadth of participation in the Summer Schools. ‘[I]ncompleteness [is a] positive norm of practice’ (356) within this model that pushes forth future creative practices and collaborations to engage with British music from this period anew.

In addressing applications for theory and practice this research works towards the continuous, ongoing, transformations of the well trodden (in the terminology of the design model, the sociopetal) to the conceptually projected (the sociofugal). The form in which this process is most readily expressed in contemporary culture is the ‘blog’.

This dialogic process of Marcus’s design model necessitates that each stage of the research is available for comment. My blueprints for working are here presented for scrutiny by all those who wish to comment (either publically or by email). A separate post on this blog will outline my ongoing concerns over the ethics of this model.

It is a central aim of this research that the results are relevant and useful for scholars and composers, as well as all those who wish to better understand the Wardour Castle Summer Schools. The methodological approaches outlined above are responsive to recent developments in relevant fields, and align with current modes of presenting research.

Kalir, Barak (2006), ‘The field of work and the work of the field: Conceptualising an anthropological research engagement’, Social Anthropology, 14/2, 235–46.

Connor, Steven (2006), An interview with Mark Morris, recorded on 27 June 2006, School of Architecture of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte <http://www.coa.uncc.edu/arch_on_air>

Marcus, George E. and Okely, Judith (2007), ‘How short can fieldwork be?’, Social Anthropology, 15/3, 353–67

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