Abstracts for two papers which I am giving at upcoming conferences:

Off the Staves: Writing Before and After Conventional Notation
26-27 March 2010
Bangor University

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Sound Which is Music, Sound Which is Not: musical concepts between the ninth and twentieth centuries
Elina G Hamilton, Bangor University


The idea of capturing sound on a piece of paper holds many mysteries, undergoing a long journey in its establishment.  The first major attempts to develop music notation in the Western world began around the ninth century, several centuries after Isidore of Seville wrote ‘...unless sounds are retained by memory they vanish, as they cannot be written down. In the millennia of its existence, music notation has seen many developments and adjustments according to the purpose it has needed to serve. In the twentieth century, notation underwent radical changes, more so than other reforms which occurred previously, as composers and philosophers of music involved themselves in the development towards a new understanding of sound. The result of the changes seems to resemble concepts and methodologies from previous eras, especially those from early developments of music notation.  The visual resemblance invites a closer investigation of the following question: Are there any links in notational practices between these two eras and, if so, what specifically are they and where can they be found? 




Medievalism Transformed: Readers, Listeners and Owners of Books in the Middle Ages & Beyond
11 June 2010
Bangor University

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Old Information, New Audience: didactic applications of Carolingian music treatises
Elina G Hamilton, Bangor University

With the rebirth of education in the Carolingian era came a wide circulation of treatises instructing students in various disciplines.  Schools, books and a desire for knowledge surged, spurred on by, among others, an interest in gaining knowledge for its own sake.  Information flowed from one part of Europe to another as scholars shared ideas between each other.  The transmission of knowledge was the chief interest held by the authors of treatises which were produced in nearly every field of knowledge and music held a very important position within this compilation and expansion.  Communicating musical concepts through writing coincided with the emergence of efforts to notate music, ultimately shaping the course of music history in Western Europe.  Did the authors who wrote their musical treatises have a specific audience in mind and for what purpose did they intend their works to be used?  How did the spirit of expanding knowledge play a role in the creation of these works?  In this paper, I will address these questions by illustrating how the particular use of diagrams, musical examples, and presentation methods of three major works from the ninth- to eleventh- centuries enable us to understand the practical and didactic applications each author intended to fulfil.

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