Anyone who tries to write within the field of critical musicology has to attempt to engage with a range of potential readerships. First, and most obvious is the field of fellow scholars and critics who develop a range of topics that are in part generated by ongoing debates and the perceived needs of the academic field at any one time. Secondly, one has to try and address readers who do not necessarily belong to academic institutions but who in some way share the concerns at hand – these could be interested members of the public, together with promoters and commentators on the music industry. In the case of performance studies and the historical performance movement, there are also going to be interested practitioners, those who actually work in the field even if by no means all also belong to the academic community. It perhaps goes without saying that it is impossible to satisfy all three communities (and doubtless others besides) equally well all the time. When I wrote Playing with History, which appeared in 2002 after a gestation period of nearly ten years, it was perhaps inevitable that there were going to be some wildly different reactions. Many within the academic field saw it as part of an ongoing debate about both the cultural and epistemological value of historical performance, and could engage with at least some aspects of its approach. Those who came from the broader community of the classical musical industry could find it extremely timely in the ways in which it tried to link historical performance to the broader cultural trends in music and historical culture during the postwar era. Others found it either incomprehensible or entirely objectionable (one suspects really only the former), and felt that it was written in a language that appealed only to a narrow and self-serving academic community. I can certainly understand this point – who is not frustrated by the way a so-called ‘discourse’ develops around any particular subject, introducing words that seem almost to become identity badges, and which might appear either exclusionary or absurdly self-important to those outside the field? On the other hand, the idea that language and discourse are entirely stable and transparent to a universal continuum of underlying thoughts is surely a foundationalist myth – you have to join a conversation in order to understand it fully and the distanced observer can entirely miss the way ideas and thoughts are generated in the very act of discussing them.
Finally, on this point, part of my intention in writing this book was to make the tone and level of argument as compatible as I could with the general intellectual conversation across the arts and humanities. It is quite striking that it is often only commentators in the music field who find some of the language alien – and this is an interesting reflection on the way music has often tended to be discussed by its devotees. In short, music as often taught in higher education over the last century or so has often developed its own system of rules and theoretical discourse. It may be that such is the technical knowledge and skill required to talk about the harmonic and analytical aspects of western music that this has often crowded out any direct communication with other areas of academia. Perhaps it is not overly cynical to suggest that when the discourse of musicology did actually begin to adopt the language and cultural concerns of the other arts and humanities during the so-called ‘new musicology’ boom of the 1980s and 90s, the discussion and indeed knowledge of musical-technical elements declined almost in direct proportion.
The third community of readers – that of the practitioners – is in some ways the most interesting. There is no doubt that some practitioners found much of interest in this book, particularly regarding the motivations for historical performance and the ways in which there might be productive contradictions between different forms of evidence and applied techniques. On the other hand, some of the most trenchant objections to this book came directly from the community of scholar-performers: where was the useful advice that I could surely offer on improving the state of historical performance? Why had I turned my back on the unqualified belief in the truths that history has to offer in the enhancement of performance? (the moral imperative to follow the dictates of positive evidence and the inference of a composer’s intentions continues to be very strong, often betraying a very specific ideology of classical music culture). Why did I try and absorb and work through the critique of a figure as obnoxious as Richard Taruskin? Why was this book more concerned with words and irritating debates than with the ‘music itself’, surely the central subject of any true musician’s concerns? These sorts of critiques showed most clearly that the book had indeed addressed a significant issue even if it had signally failed in bringing about any change to the situation. The issue was not so much about whether one should decide to do historical performance or so-called ‘modern’ performance, but about whether the concerns of classical music should be discussed in relation to the world around it and the cultures that sustain it. In other words, perhaps uniquely among the arts, there was still a very strong – let’s call it ‘romantic’ – tendency to see classical music as entirely autonomous, a form of artistic truth that is separate from the messy concerns of the world around it. If this form of religion has the virtue of fervor in preserving its faith, it also has a fatal weakness in its failure to engage both with the debates and with the cultural free-for-all of the contemporary world. This surely heightens the danger of classical music becoming entirely irrelevant and marginalized by a rapidly changing political and economic environment.
As I have often tried to stress, I wrote this book as a spirited defence of historical performance, not as a dry academic dissection (well, not too dry, I hope!). As one reviewer put it, I’d created a huge amount of hot air, but at least I came down on the right side in the end! Behind much of my motivation was the attempt to identify ways in which historical performance could help to regenerate a music culture that is constantly under threat. One principle I tried to adopt, loosely derived from Nietzsche, was that history and historical thought are worthwhile to the degree that they serve life – in other words, when historical performance revivifies both the performance and consumption of western music. Following Taruskin, I have always been at pains to suggest that the scholarly correctness of the editor is not to be transposed directly to performance practice, even if it is one of a range of necessary conditions of historical study, and that the performance and reception of music must surely relate to more complex historical and aesthetic concerns than compliance with instructions.
So, what has happened since 2002? Have I managed to instigate a more productive and multi-faceted engagement with both the music and performance of the past? Almost certainly not, at least directly, although there has been a general increase in performers who are more self-reflective in relation to their motivations, limitations of knowledge, and degree of artistic freedom. There was even a British orchestra that bought a copy of this book for every member of the band during a particular patch of work. I’m not sure that it gave them any interesting insights whatsoever, but it was clear that the performers did become keener to develop their own ideas and to consolidate their own positions as a result of this semi-enforced study.
There has also been a sense in which many musicians, whether trained in conservatoires or universities, have begun to develop a broader sense of the cultural environment in which they live and work. This comes partly from the general trend towards interdisciplinary study in academia, one which is certainly very productive in what seemed to be – until very recently – an increasingly pluralistic world. (nevertheless, interdisciplinarity is a direction that I might – perhaps unhelpfully – also relate to the management-orientation of neo-liberal economic thinking, by which mergers and partnerships make better monetary sense than the isolated so-called ‘silos’ of knowledge and expertise). By the same token, there has been a general move in conservatory thinking towards making musicians more flexible in their outlooks and more attuned to a world in which a secure place in the factory of musical culture (traditionally the symphony orchestra) is no longer guaranteed for life. Such institutions have moreover to prove to their funders and overseers that their alumni are actually employable and can succeed in a range of valuable careers, even beyond music – in other words, all skills need to be to some extent ‘transferable’. I cannot pretend to have had any direct influence on the culture of classical music performance, but at least feel vindicated in the view that most issues of music and performance do indeed relate quite vitally to the supporting systems of knowledge, practice and finance, and that we ignore the developments here at our peril.
Perhaps the most important development since 2002 has been the sheer expansion of the HIP movement. But any considerations of expansion have to come with a disclaimer – namely, that the recording industry that so sustained the movement from the 1970s to 1990s has declined quite precipitously. Such decline has affected most forms of music – stretching well beyond the classical – and it relates to several issues: changes in purchasing trends, saturation of the market, developments in digital media, and, most strikingly, the move towards streaming platforms. It is no longer really possible to generate any significant income from recording, although this still has a very significant part to play in acting as a calling card for musicians expanding their career in live performance. It would be naïve to suggest that live performance in any classical field is easier than it was in 2002, particularly in the wake of recession and changes of financial priority, but there are arguably a broader range of performance venues and opportunities, even if singly these are no longer able to pay that much. Therefore, it is possible for musicians to make a reasonable living, but often only through an enormous amount of travelling, piling on performances with an astonishing range of groups and often, at least in Europe, in an astonishing range of countries. The interchangeability of musicians in European groups can be quite striking, bringing with it the risk of over standardization, superficiality and uniformity. But it might equally be true that musicians relish working in different environments and with different stylistic parameters. The need to pack in more work has undoubtedly led to an increase in expertise and fluency on the part of a large number of the performers concerned. The number of active groups with a membership that is nearly entirely stable – e.g. Philharmonia Baroque in California and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century in the Netherlands – are perhaps the exception rather than the rule.
There’s not the space here to discuss the implications of Brexit in tremendous detail, but there is no doubt that it will affect virtually all types of musical activity in Britain, and partly in Europe too. The outlook is potentially catastrophic. I could certainly mount an argument that something of the success of HIP itself comes out of the UK’s accession to the EEC in the 1970s – for instance the influx of the remarkable body of fluent and flexible British singers honed in the cathedral/collegiate tradition into north European centres of early music performance. But what is crucial in the current circumstances is the fate of some of the most expert performers resident in Britain who make their living only through combining their British careers with very regular work on the continent. And, in terms of overall quality and variety of performance, what becomes of those European residents who belong to some of the most prestigious UK groups? All that can be concluded for now is that the expansion of historical performance across Europe and beyond might be short lived.
Another route that has expanded over the last fifteen years is the employment of more distinguished historicist performers in conservatoires and universities, thus making the need for a weekly grind of travel rather less urgent and increasing the influence of these musicians in a broader educational context. While the DMA route for training in historical performance, together with the institution of the collegium musicum have long been aspects of education in historical performance in the US, there has been a more recent expansion of courses, programmes and pathways in European institutions, both universities and conservatories. Part of the reason for this might be the growing consensus that practice can itself count as a form of research and that the traditional divide between university and conservatoire need no longer be inviolable.
I would suggest several – largely positive – results from this situation of what I might call ‘unstable expansion’. There are many more performers in the field and third and fourth generation HIP musicians have undoubtedly benefited from the establishment of rich traditions in a multiplicity of centres. It is clearly evident that there are areas of the world where HIP is making inroads for the first time: regions of southern and particularly eastern Europe, and most strikingly, the far east, where Japanese practice, already rich in the early 1990s, has become virtually an indispensable presence in the world of historical performance. There is also the obvious continuation of the expansion of performance practice repertory, well into the 19th and 20th centuries, to the degree that the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment now often plays more music from the 19th century than it does from the actual age of enlightenment. Another – largely very welcome – development is the fact that more chamber and symphony orchestras are keen to adopt some aspects of period practice and there is an increasing number of players who double on modern and period instruments and who are quite content to cross between very different institutions of performance.
But expansion, as is perhaps almost inevitable, brings with it the danger of dilution. One could almost predict a ‘pick and mix’ attitude towards historical performance today, from the points I’ve already made, by which individual performers or groups adopt some aspect of assumed historical practice but ignore huge tranches of potential knowledge and practice. Many significant aspects of 19th century practice are entirely missing from the performance of that repertory, even by historically-informed performers. It is also still quite common for distinguished choral groups to hire period bands, in order to give themselves a sort of veneer of ‘authenticity’, but then go on to perform in whatever way comes most naturally to them. Sometimes aspects of performance practice are delegated to the leader of the orchestra, as if it is all a matter of house-keeping that need not concern the interpreter as such and certainly not the vocalists. All this might go to show that historical performance is a sort of veneer of taste – almost exactly as Richard Taruskin used to complain – and that period sound for certain repertories at least is merely what audiences have come to expect.
On the other hand, given that the total historical reconstruction of any performance is an illusion, one should perhaps not dismiss the pick and mix approach entirely out of hand. Just as one might blend historical styles and adopt the patina of a particular period in architecture – and indeed musical composition – why should one not take a similarly eclectic approach to performance? Perhaps the crucial issue here is that the sense of engagement and immersion in style and practice that historical performance might bring is entirely diluted if the approach is too casual. But while some of the performers concerned may be ‘lazy’ in their uncritical historical appropriations, it is not necessarily the case that they are going to be equally superficial in every aspect of performance. If we are to think of HIP as a general tool towards a more engaged and immersive performance activity – rather than as an imperative only towards correctness – this automatically opens up the possibility that other tools might serve equally well. Moreover, ideas and historical knowledge inevitably take a while to ‘bed-in’ particularly for performers who might well be playing four centuries-worth of music, from across several geographical areas. And it might take even longer for audiences and critics to appreciate new additions from older styles. Just as I suggested for the changing character of intellectual discourse, it may well be that musical performance itself has a discursive nature that requires the communal development of a new language of expression and gesture.
But one of the things that the expansion of HIP, and the various risks of dilution and trivialization that might seem to come with this, has led to is a ‘new fundamentalism’. In other words, a return to first principles and the call to question all aspects of performance that cannot be historically justified. This also brings with it the assumption that documented or even likely historical practices are automatically better than those that result from guesswork or artistic imagination. Like so many other types of fundamentalism, this one is greatly enhanced by the new possibilities afforded by the web, by which private groups can share information and discuss various historical findings. Of course, the advent of the new media, greatly expanded even since 2002, does open up the potential for a ‘democratization’ of historical performance. The number of historical sources now available on the web is truly astounding. No longer is the necessary knowledge communicated only by salaried experts in expensive journals, but people from a wide range of backgrounds can now share small parcels of knowledge that can be subject to instant scrutiny and discussion. Experimentation through practice and discussions of first principles can now be undertaken on a scale, and with a degree of inclusiveness, that has never been possible before. But it always seems to be the case that greater democratization also brings the possibility of better organized cohorts of local oppression and fundamentalism. The internet facilitates the zealots, those who it has itself partly created, who might set up ‘shaming sites’ with photographs of performers who claim to follow historical practice but who violate the current state of knowledge in one way or another: typical areas might relate to positioning of string instruments, issues of string tension and, most egregious of all, those little holes that allow brass players to ‘cheat’ with their pitching and tone production.
One observation I made in Playing with History was that fundamentalist rhetoric did not necessarily lead to dull, literalistic performances – which is, after all, one of the standard criticisms of HIP. In fact, I suggested that there seemed to be no definite correlation between the degree of intended historical accuracy and its effect of performance: there could be brilliant fundamentalists and also some extremely dull free spirits who claimed to find great inspiration in the implied improvisatory spontaneity of historical performance. The more recent situation in which there is an increase both in lip-serving, mix-and-match historical performers but also fundamentalists, seems to confirm this original observation – in other words, the historical attitude, whatever it is, does not automatically produce results of a particular kind. The only thing I would add at this stage is that we should surely not automatically condemn those performers who seem purposely to adopt an incomplete approach to the historical impulse – any approach is necessarily going to be startlingly incomplete, and it may well be that intense exploration of one historical parameter, sometimes at the expense of others, can have an effect on the musical result, even when there is no certainty that any actual historical practice is being followed.
If I were still writing from my viewpoint of fifteen years ago I would perhaps be in a better position to judge whether the actual ‘sound’ of historical performance has subsequently changed, whether its practices have become more or less standardized, whether or not there is something more ‘vital’ about historical performance today than was the case in the 1990s. However, given that my practitioner side has taken over considerably from my academic activity during the interim, I am unable to form much of an objective judgment of the state of performance today. Indeed, it would probably be much harder for me to write a book like Playing with History today, since I am simply too deeply immersed in many of the sorts of issues that it attempts to analyse. I should also admit that I now have both the luxury and the curse of a considerable number of performance opportunities, which means that I cannot be equally ‘historically informed’ in each and every one. I have to work most obviously under the immediate imperative of producing the best possible performance I can, so far as the vast range of circumstances allow, so history and her courtiers often have to scramble for the back seat. Perhaps the best I can do at this stage is to sketch out at least some of the aims I have as a performer in today’s culture, and the degree to which these are influenced by my profile as someone who tries to think about the role and function of performance both historically and in contemporary culture. It’s difficult to know how far these aims are typical of historically informed performers today, but I assume that they must be to some extent.
As I tried to emphasise in the book, I am definitely on the side of vitality in terms of the intentional matrix lying behind any performance, although there’s no guarantee that at least some of my attempts will not be deadly in some respect. But I certainly disagree profoundly with the imperative that at least some of the pioneers of the movement followed, namely that HIP should stand against any form of spontaneous expression or personal involvement. My approach has often been to try and find ways in which any limitations that historical evidence might imply actually become opportunities for expression or new forms of experience. Therefore, rather than taking historical performance as the act of stripping away the expressive accretions of reception, my approach is generally to extract the maximum potential expression and experience from the parameters that historical knowledge has reset. Any narrowing of possibilities should surely bring with it an intensification of other parameters – one example where this sort of thing often happens successfully in practice is where orchestral string players in baroque and early classical style lessen the use of continuous vibrato in music. But rather than being merely the removal of one parameter of expression, leaving everything else exactly as it was (which might have been the assumption of the ‘less is more’ school), most of the better players now work on a greater degree of expression and shaping through other parameters, such as the use of the bow, or through alternative ornamental devices. As Clive Brown has shown, it is clear that string players of 19th century music still have some way to go both in terms of understanding when vibrato should be applied, but also in many other factors such as fingering, portamenti and agogic inflections. In all though it might be that historical performance should generally work in reverse to its stereotypical negation of modern ‘freedom of expression’ and actually open up types of expression that have otherwise been forgotten or have become entirely ossified in so-called modern practice.
It is doubtless no secret that one of my overriding interests in the performance practice of virtually any repertory of music is in the role of listening and the listening experience. Indeed, I suggest that there are surely few aspects of performance that really have any significance at all if they do not relate at some level to the way people hear and listen to music. And, although certain aspects of hearing and listening must be relatively consistent across the human world and its history, the role of cultural conditioning must surely be one of the most fascinating in gauging the effect of performance in the past. It is doubtless the case that performers, along with composers and a whole range of listeners, have always been complicit in creating a meaningful musical experience. While historical knowledge is never going to be certain and historical experience is never going to be replicated – or, more importantly, there is no way in which we could ever confirm whether historical experience has actually been replicated – what is worth restoring is surely something of the circulation between the parties involved. Most music, at the level of composition or performance, was part of a charged circuit shared with its listeners – even if the aim of the repertory concerned was for the most passive form of contemplation – and historical knowledge can help us recreate something of that charge and its circulation in real time, even if most of the incidental details are entirely wrong. With this sort of aim in mind, a very large range of historical material becomes relevant for HIP. No longer should it be merely a matter of identifying the correct ornaments in treatises, employing the correct instruments and establishing the correct notational sources. Surely there is far more to historical awareness than that: there are, for instance, historical and cultural differences in everyday practice, in the perception of the self, and in the perception and experience of time and embodiment, both individually and socially. Compositional style can be analysed for its anticipation of expectations and various types of attention. Occasions and places of performance can be analysed for the range of listening experiences they might engender, which is why I’ve been particularly interested in placing certain pieces of Bach’s church music back in a liturgical context and – on the other side of the equation – imagining how music might have sounded in a coffeehouse or café (e.g. Mozart Requiem first performance). Although such experiments are ultimately entirely speculative, they do sometimes allow us to experience relatively familiar pieces in ways that – far from diluting them with contextual distractions – might actually reveal qualities and sensations that would otherwise have remained unnoticed.
Closely related to the notion of listening experience is the role of embodiment in the way music was written, performed and heard. While 1990s musicology made much of embodiment, this was primarily from an erotic, sexualized point of view; the issue is surely much broader given that it encompasses all forms of movement and gesture together with the various ways in which one might inhabit different types of personal and social space. Certainly, performance practice studies have often usefully centred on dance, which is obviously an extremely important way in which space and social interaction might have been regulated, but again dance is surely only the tip of a much larger iceberg of socialized movement. In short, much might be developed in the study and practice of performance practice by considering the whole range of embodied historical experience and the ways this might be seeded and echoed in various types of notated music. This should perhaps tie in with the notion of ‘mind-set’ towards ‘body-set’ – a physical extension of a way of thinking that goes far beyond the cerebral and the rational. As ever, none of these historical speculations is in any way certain, but this surely does not invalidate the enterprise, particularly if the process of enquiry and experimentation reveals new possibilities, sensations or forms of musical experience. The culture of performance today is potentially revivified through historical considerations, and it is the present we are surely serving, rather than the past.
Finally, one very large aspect of Playing with History was my attempt to place the HIP impulse within the context of much larger cultural movements, namely the conceptual debates between definitions of modernism and postmodernism and the more concrete ways in which the imperative towards restoring earlier performance practices relates to a broader culture of restoration and heritage. To sum this up very concisely, I suggested that much of the conditioning for heritage culture, particularly in the western world, related to the rapid modernization of virtually every aspect of life. Particularly striking was the loss of much of the built environment in the wake of WWII and, more importantly, the rapid modernization of town and cityscapes that took place in the 1950s and 60s. This led to the destruction not only of buildings, but also of entire vistas, on a scale that had simply not occurred before, and this often led to a sense of disorientation and loss. Moreover, the classic modernist argument, that the great set-pieces of Bath and other beautiful cities would endure regardless of the removal of the lesser buildings constituting their context, began to seem increasingly shaky. In other words, perhaps context (whether historical or cultural) had been undervalued in the ruling aesthetic of the autonomy of the artwork during the earlier twentieth century. It is doubtless no coincidence that the 1960s and 70s were the period when a new antiquarianism broke out across the arts and heritage industries, and it is not difficult to see the role of early music and historical performance as a form of historicist comfort and regrounding during this disorientating era. While the built environment is the largest factor here, there was also, in the wake of a new wave of industrialization, the interest in reclaiming craft procedures and seeing the value in slower and less efficient forms of life. These were exactly the points made by patrician mavericks such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who saw industrialization and the establishment of the modern music conservatory as the point at which music culture took the wrong turning that separated the ‘modern’ from the historical. Whatever we might think of his views today, it is clear that ‘the historical’ can now stretch much further into the future, indeed right into our immediate past.
From a more theoretical standpoint I was particularly attracted to Frederic Jameson’s notion of the state of postmodernity as the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’, by which the increasingly seamless flow of capital, globalization and the neo-liberal free-market imperatives contributed to a sort of cultural disorientation and historical deafness. In many respects it was becoming increasingly difficult to separate the virtual from the real, the genuine and authentic from the simulacrum. Therefore, an increased interest in history and details of the past became for many a compensation for the loss of local, community and family histories. The apparent ‘sameness’ of the globalized, fully-capitalized world thus lay behind some quite extreme expression of identity politics or fundamentalism. Jameson makes the perceptive observation that Christian fundamentalism, while marking its adherents’ desire to return to the early years of the first millennium, is actually a new phenomenon since it takes place against the backdrop of a fully modernized world, one that is considerably more distanced from the first century than similar movements in the 17th or even 18th centuries. If this notion of religious fundamentalism as essentially a new phenomenon is correct, then it suggests that other movements concerned with restoring aspects of the past – not least HIP itself – are not only just influenced by modern sensibilities: they actually HAVE to be a modern movement.
Obviously, like any theoretical approach, Jameson’s is only useful to the degree that it illuminates something of the phenomena at hand – it is a tool rather than anything factual or verifiable. To my mind it helps bring together various cultural and historical factors that conspired to make HIP so prevalent and indeed so successful in the closing decades of the twentieth century. Obviously, if HIP is indeed a form of compensation, the fulfilling of a particular need during a period of uncertainty and cultural pluralism, coupled with bland standardization, this could be seen as a devaluing of the movement as a whole. But it would surely be a mistake to consider an attitude born of historical circumstances to be necessarily negative – indeed, I could almost suggest that in this light the HIP movement really does become a form of ‘authenticity’, an historical necessity in its own right.
The question that remains, of course, is how long the historical imperative in performance remains authentic and of a piece with a sort of cultural yearning in the west and beyond. Here, some closing thoughts on what has happened over the last fifteen years might be illuminating. First, the most obvious change: the economic and global system that seemed quite stable around 2000, even to the extent of engendering beliefs in the so-called ‘end of history’ and the beginnings of a long period of marketized predictability, now appears considerably less secure. Although much of the response to the economic crisis in the west has been to impose ‘more of the same’, there are certainly no longer any grounds for complacency. What was before a potentially bland system of seamless capital has now engendered its other – a world in which there is increasing fragmentation across local, national and international levels. Moreover, the natural world seems increasingly intent on claiming more of the action with the obvious signs of climate change continually reminding us that the status quo is hardly likely to be sustainable in the longer term. Most striking of all, at least from a cultural point of view, is the greater prevalence of fundamentalist movements (both seemingly harmless ones and those which are hideously dangerous), whether these be religious, political or nationalistic. Many of us are surely struck on a daily basis by the prevalence of belief systems in what really might be becoming a ‘post-truth’ – or is it neo-pre-enlightenment? – culture. Although impossible and undesirable in countless ways, I’m sure many might feel the urge somehow to re-run the Enlightenment. Suddenly that welcome hermeneutic of suspicion that so many enthusiastically embraced against all forms of western culture during the 1980 and 90s might seem trivial in the wake of the far more insidious threats that have subsequently appeared. In short, the theories by Jamieson and others, that the globalized system engenders fundamentalist and restoration cultures, have been justified on a level far greater than he could have anticipated in the 1990s. And, I feel that I was fully justified in showing how HIP – if only a minnow in the broader scheme of things – is fully reflective of the opportunities, contradictions and threats of the time.
Are the more extreme conditions today at all propitious for the flourishing of HIP in one form or another? The narrow nationalist threats to what has been a truly international movement cannot be lightly dismissed. Indeed, the survival of classical music culture is itself seriously threatened, particularly if it is seen as of a piece with western modernity – that largely cultural movement stretching from the Renaissance and Reformation up to the present. If modernity in this larger sense is coming to an end, it may be that any debates about HIP are equivalent to ordering new paint for those deckchairs on the Titanic. In the meantime though, the best we can do is to continue interrogating our interests and cultural assumptions and develop stronger justifications for the survival of musical culture. It would be absurd to suggest that HIP, or even the culture of western classical music as a whole, in any way solves the problems of the world today (although some continue to claim this). But it can certainly continue to function as a serious critique and meditation on our current condition. To my mind, we need most to exploit the historical invitation to extend our range of aural awareness, together with the types of perception, embodiment, feelings and thoughts that this might suggest. We are unlikely to get much further with our enormously rich inheritance if we remain concerned solely with purging the 18th century of main-note trills.