Timmers, R. & Honing, H. (2002) Issuing an empirical musicology of performance. In Timmers, R., Freedom and constraints in timing and ornamentation. Investigations of music performance. (Maastricht: Shaker Publishing, 2002), 19-49.


Music performance is of interest to studies in musicology, music psychology and music performance practice, but, in general, it has been of a peripheral importance (most of these disciplines being primarily focused on the score instead of on the actual performance). This peripheral status seems to be at odds with the central position music performance actually has in musical behavior. Music analysis, perception, and performance all have their basis in actual performed music. Even the imagination of music from a score (by an analyst or a musician) is based, or at least influenced by previous experiences with music performances. If performance is central to musical behavior, shouldn't it also be central to music research? If music psychology aims at revealing the mechanisms of music perception, shouldn't it focus on the perception of music performance (i.e. human performed fragments of music), instead of the perception of "sounding scores"? And if performance and interpretation are so important in the realization of a score, shouldn't musicology be more involved with performance issues? In summary, what kind of science do we get, and what methods and techniques do we need, when we make performance the central object of music research? What are the issues, what the problems and solutions? One issue that will be addressed is the distinction between expression (how is a piece actually performed) and interpretation (which knowledge and decisions play a role in constructing a performance). Another issue concerns the many roles and perspectives performers have to music. Both issues lead to the problem of a multitude of equally acceptable performances of a single piece and the differences that exist between them. They also lead to uncertainty about the cause, intent and meaning of an expressive gesture in a performance. These issues will be addressed with examples from both musicology and music psychology that concern temporal aspects of music (e.g., rhythm, timing, and tempo).

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