An introduction to music research
An introduction to music research

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An introduction to music research

3.7 Places

One growth area of musical research concentrates on the ways in which composition and performance are shaped by the environments and institutions with which they are, or have been, associated. Research around music and place might look at the ways in which landscape has shaped composition, or at the links between a building and its soundscape. Topics can embrace whole cities and their musics, or small performance spaces. They might range from the study of concert halls, such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, to the conjunction of music and moving images in film scores where landscape is foregrounded, for example Philip Glass’s 1982 Koyaanisqatsi.

Figure 10 The Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, c.1930. Private collection. Photo: © Bridgeman Education.

Often a venue might play a role in shaping performance and composition; New York’s Cotton Club, which opened in Harlem in 1920, became an influential performance space for jazz musicians, among them Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Another important performance space is New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Activity 11

Carnegie Hall’s developing database contains records of events from its foundation in 1891. Open the Carnegie Hall Performance History Search [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] page and search the conductor Walter Damrosch (1862–1950).

  • What can you learn about him?
  • Why was he important?

Discussion

Damrosch was an important figure in the history of music in America as director of the New York Symphony Orchestra, in which role he conducted the first performances of a number of works, including Gershwin’s An American in Paris in 1928. At the time of writing his name appears over 800 times in this database, his career closely linked to Carnegie Hall.

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