A Blog about the Wardour Castle Summer Schools 1964, 1965


One of the issues that is raised by making information publicly available through this medium is that of copyright. I earlier posted tangentially about copyright, when I made reference to Chris Anderson and suggested that one of the topics that this blog will explore is that of scholarly publishing. This blog is not in the typical sense peer reviewed, though each post has room for comments to be left by any who care to do so. For the most recent interviews I have made the presence of the blog known to the interviewee, who, if they are so desirous, can peruse the contents of the blog and comment as they wish. I have posted on Bayan Northcott’s engagement with this blog immediate before our interview, and the effect that it had on the subsequent discussion.

The greatest strength of Anderson’s work is to focus attention on the change in value of information. What was once a product is now given freely to heighten the value of another product. For this blog, conducting research involves monetary cost that is counterbalanced by my ability to sell the musicological skills that this blog displays. One of the frustrations (widely shared) of scholarly publishing is that word limits and reader interest restrict the level detail that can be disseminated in any one article of monograph. Data is deployed as necessary to providing evidence to support an argument. The problem for other researchers is that without the data sets (to borrow terms from scientific enquiry) the results are unable to be verified by repeated (and varied) analysis. Whilst my aim is not to prove the arguments I engage, nevertheless it is essential that I make available as much of the raw data of this research as possible. The first motivation for this blog was to make available details that I was unable to access during my doctoral studies. These details are for the most part of low level interest, but build a picture of a era and its contemporary understanding and will be useful for the research of others. One of the most exciting aspects of working with a blog is the ease with which different levels of data and argument can be connected and filtered.

Similarly, statistics such as ‘views per day’ and ‘referrer’ are available to me at the click of a button, bringing immediate feedback that shapes new avenues of research. Recently there were a large number of views referred to the blog by Wikipedia. For anyone interested in contemporary copyright issues Wikipedia is (and has been for some time) one of the most visible aspects of the changes in citation.

Over the past couple of months significant changes have been made to wikipedia’s Melos Ensemble article, which now includes information about their involvement with the Wardour Castle Summer Schools, using information from this blog. It’s information that is all clearly cited and it’s an excellent entry. One of the main contributors is identified by the name Gerda Arendt, who has also contributed articles on several of the Melos Ensemble’s members, and much else besides. What interested me was a discussion that took place on Arendt’s ‘user talk’ section of wikipedia. One of the posts, written by someone known as Eebahgum, included the following:

The Wardour Castle Summer Schools are indeed interesting: but Dr Hooper, the researcher in your link (external, a blog), has collected much information on the subject already, and lays it out as being his own research. In justice to him I would steer away from actually making an article on the subject as it is enough to redirect the reader to Dr Hooper’s webpage. You could also add in the other site (Boosey and Hawkes Composers site) with a timeline on Harrison Birtwistle which gives the dates and the fact that HB, Alexander Goehr and Maxwell Davies were co-founders and Tippett the President. That site also explains that the reason for the site being chosen was that Birtwistle held a teaching post at the school at New Wardour Castle and make the links accordingly. (00:40, 16 December 2009 (UTC))

Arendt replied with:

Thank you for your detailed response on my talk! I changed WCSS and incorporated your Boosey as ref. A no-blog source for the concerts there would be desirable but I don’t see one at the moment and think the special kind of programming there is worth mentioning, just the facts. (12:39, 16 December 2009 (UTC))

Two aspects of this are worthy of note. Firstly, the value of citing other research is alive and well, bolstered by a quest for accuracy. Secondly, the nature of this blog as a research project is helping to identify its contents as my work, to be cited rather than copied. Of course, I am pleased that the blog is useful for others in forming new understandings of what went on and its continuing significance and I look forward to its cited use in future wikipedia articles.

Finally, the information about links to this blog is presented to me as part of my work, not as something that I need actively to seek out. This means that I am better able to keep track of the aspects of the WCSS that need closer investigation. The recording company NMC linked to this blog in one of their tweets, which has directed people to listen to the comments by Bayan Northcott (one of NMC’s long-time associates) contained in several recent posts. NMC was alerted to by post about him by way of google alerts (as they will to this post, so hello!), and I have subsequently set up several of these to alerts me to new discussions of the Wardour Castle Summer Schools.

It’s nice when it all works and links together.

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One Response

  1. Steven Plunkett says:

    A Rose by Any Other Name?

    When starting the wikipedia Melos Ensemble article just over a year ago, I hoped someone would enlarge it and there would be spin-off articles for individual artists. I’m really delighted that Gerda wanted to do that, and with wonderful effect.

    But, do bear in mind that wikipedia articles can be changed by anyone (including you), and that a ‘blog’ (as such) may seem barely an acceptable authority in the eyes of the wikipedia panjandrums (I am not one). Wikipedia requires its contributors to provide published authority for statements added to articles. So by purely administrative alterations, the link there to your authorship of ideas could later on, in other hands, become inadvertently detached from statements about the subject, and your connection with it become invisible.

    Of course your splendid site is not ‘merely’ a blog, but really an incremental subject-specific webpage about your research, with feedback, and being scholarly it’s a perfectly valid citation and deserves full acknowledgement. I wonder if you will also put your findings into connected form in hard print?

    Thankyou also for your approval of what the wikipedians are trying to do. The mask of an editorial name is not pure cowardice: like the Masked Ball, you never know to whom you may be speaking! It’s a salutary lesson, and makes for a level playing field: the play’s the thing.

    With kind regards

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