The Listening Experience Database enters phase 2

We are delighted to announce that the Listening Experience Database has secured a second phase of AHRC funding. The team received an award with a total value of £985,965 for a further three-year project which will take it through to the end of February 2019. Our partnership with the Royal College of Music continues, and the collaboration has been extended to include the University of Glasgow, whose Professor in Digital Humanities, Lorna Hughes, joins the project team.

Where the first phase of the project focused on designing and building the database and populating it with entries, this second phase is concerned with developing and enhancing the use and usefulness of the database. The team aims to do this in several ways.

In the previous phase of the project we simply looked for listening experiences from any period or geographical location; this time, we take a specific focus on the interplay between culture and listening to music in Britain since c.1700. There are five related studies – on Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Christian worship, and on the London music business and its influence in other parts of the country. A further study, which links the other five, will look at social media as a source for listening experiences. This more precisely focused approach will help us to develop specific case studies of the experience of listening as a core element of the way that people engage with their cultures through music.

Secondly, as we pursue our particular historical and musicological questions and problems, we will also be developing digital tools that will help us to answer them – finding and extracting the data we need, and analysing it in ways that would be difficult or impossible using analogue methods.

We will also be reflecting on our digital methodologies and documenting our processes, with the aim of informing practice in the wider field of digital humanities and better integrating digital techniques with traditional humanities approaches.

The project is once again led by David Rowland. Helen Barlow continues as full-time research associate. Also continuing from the first project is Emeritus Professor Trevor Herbert. Music department colleagues new to the team are Martin Clarke and Elaine Moohan. Simon Brown continues as the RCM’s research associate – wearing another hat, you might also recognise him as one of the department’s associate lecturers. Mathieu d’Aquin from KMi is once again a co-investigator, while Alessandro Adamou, the original designer of the database, is moving on to other projects at KMi – he will gradually hand over to his colleague Carlo Allocca to develop the new database toolkit.

Please continue to follow our progress, and if you don’t already have a user account, go to our website www.open.ac.uk/Arts/LED  and sign up for one. This will allow us to keep in touch with you; it will also mean that if you come across accounts of listening in the course of your own reading or research, you can enter them in the database. While our current work has a British focus, don’t let that limit the material you contribute – the database will accept accounts from any period, location, culture or musical genre. There’s plenty more information on the website about the kinds of accounts we’re looking for – or email us with any questions at arts-listening-experience@open.ac.uk

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