Bourgeois self-representation: a methodological case-study in musical iconography

Price, C. (2016) Bourgeois self-representation: a methodological case-study in musical iconography. In: “Images of Music-Making and Its Trans-Cultural Exchanges”; Fourteenth symposium of the ICTM Study Group for Iconography of the Performing Arts, 27th–31st October, 2016, Xi’an Conservatory of Music; Xi’an, China.

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The lithograph of 1826 shows the Canterbury Catch Club in its heyday. It is clearly intended to depict a gathering of sophisticated, culturally literate gentlemen enjoying a concert provided by professional musicians in convivial surroundings.
This paper shows how contemporary archives may be used to interrogate an image such as this. On the one hand, much of the property of the Club still survives, including the expensively-produced portraits shown in the picture and various other artefacts, and the room depicted here still survives in the city. But a photograph of it will be very revealing – not least because the picture will show, not a fitting for a chandelier, but the holes in the ceiling intended for the air pump which had to clear the smoke of dozens of pipes. Other evidence will serve to illuminate our appreciation of the image: the Club’s own records such as Committee Minutes Books and concert records make it clear that the Club’s motto (“Harmony and Unanimity”) was not always realised in practice, and archives from the city of Canterbury and the Cathedral including the Electoral Register, a contemporary City ‘Directory’, and the Cathedral’s 17th- and 18th-century “Dean’s Books”, will help to show that this carefully calibrated representation is essentially performative – an artefact concerned, above all, to depict the club its members wanted to present both to themselves and to the outside world.
This process serves to illustrate a methodology which allows musicologists to investigate an image to reveal the ideology at work in its production and presentation. The result tells us far more about the figures depicted in this picture than they might have wished.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music > M1495 Vocal music > M1497 Secular vocal music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music > ML0159 History and criticism > ML1400 Vocal music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music > ML3800 Philosophical and societal aspects of music. Physics and acoustics of music. Physiological aspects of music > ML3916 Social and political aspects of music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Music and Performing Arts
Depositing User: Mr Chris Price
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2017 15:36
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2017 15:36

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00