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Listening Gallery

Integrating music with exhibitions and gallery displays

Refurbishing

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2008-10)

The Listening Gallery was a knowledge transfer collaboration between the RCM and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Stemming from research in music, art, design, and technology, the project connected objects in the V&A's collections with music that shares their rich and distinctive pasts.

New and existing recordings of music were integrated into two V&A projects: 

Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence

The V&A’s Spring 2009 exhibition, which ran from April to July 2009. Music recorded for the Listening Gallery can be downloaded from the V&A's Baroque website. 

Medieval and Renaissance Europe

A series of eleven new galleries, which re-opened after major renovation in December 2009. The collection is one of the finest in the world, and its redisplay will have a minimum lifespan of 25 years. Music recorded for the Listening Gallery can be downloaded from the V&A's Medieval and Renaissance websites. 


Further information

Project team

Giulia Nuti, RCM 
Ashley Solomon, RCM
Aaron Williamon, RCM

V&A collaborators

Glyn Davies, Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Stuart Frost, Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Peta Motture, Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Joanna Norman, Baroque 1620-1800

Advisors

Clifford Bartlett, The Early Music Company
Flora Dennis, University of Sussex
Jakob Lindberg, RCM
William Lyons, RCM

Project outputs

Recordings

The music employed in the Listening Gallery - much of which was especially recorded by RCM students and staff, using instruments from the RCM Museum and manuscripts from the RCM Library - comes from precisely those years, those cities, those spectacles represented by objects in the V&A's galleries. The music and the artefacts on display were typically commissioned by the same patrons, and to experience them reunited enhances understanding of the periods, places and people represented.

The variety of musical styles, genres and instruments covered across European art and culture from 1000-1800 has required the consideration and application of a wide range of musicological sources. Moreover, the input provided by performers to early music scholarship has been essential, particularly for the earliest works where hands-on music making is often the best means of addressing interpretative and notation questions.

Music recorded for the Listening Gallery can be downloaded from the V&A's website:

Publications

Dennis F (2010), Scattered knives and dismembered songs: Cutlery, music, and the rituals of dining, Renaissance Studies, 24, 156-184 [DOI].

Frost S & Nuti G (2012), Another dimension: Integrating music with the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, V&A Online Journal, 4 [web link]

Nuti G, Solomon A, & Williamon A (2009), The Listening Gallery: Integrating music with exhibitions and gallery displays, in A Williamon, S Pretty, & R Buck (eds.), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2009 (pp. 341-346), European Association of Conservatoires (AEC).

Documentary series

Our documentary series offers a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the processes, products and impact of Listening Gallery knowledge transfer activities. Drawing on the experience of curators, performers, researchers and recording engineers, the videos below provide insight into the relevance of music to objects on display at the V&A, as well as the rehearsal and recording work of RCM musicians.

Music for the Baffo harpsichord

 

Visit the V&A website for additional recordings of the Baffo harpsichord.

A notation knife

 

Visit the V&A website for additional recordings of the notation knife.

Music from choirbook leaves

 

Visit the V&A website for additional recordings of the choirbook leaves.

A missal from the Abbey of Saint Denis

 

Visit the V&A website for additional recordings of a missal from the Abbey of Saint Denis.


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