By Stuart Frost
I’ve written about The Listening Gallery project before. It is a two-year collaboration between the Royal College of Music and the V&A. The project draws on recent research in music, art & design and technology. One of the aims of the project is to connect key objects in the V&A’s collections with recordings of music that help visitors understand both the objects, and the cultural contexts to which they belonged, more fully.
New and existing recordings of music were integrated into the V&A’s major Spring 2009 exhibition, Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence (4 April to 19 July 2009) as part of the first phase of the Listening Gallery. A series of over thirty new recordings have been made for the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries (opening 2 December 2009). The music will be available in the galleries and online via the V&A’s website. My colleagues, Peter Kelleher and Maike Zimmerman, very kindly agreed to film some of the work involved in producing the recordings. A series of short films are now complete and will be added to the website over the coming weeks.
The first film focuses on a knife made around 1550, the blade of which is etched on both sides with musical notation. The flat blade indicates that the knife was probably used to serve or present slices of meat. The object has been the focus of a great deal of thorough research undertaken by Flora Denis who has investigated a number of key questions. Why was musical notation engraved on the blade? Was this music actually meant to be sung? How many other knives like this one survive and was the V&A’s knife part of a larger set? The notation on the knife was recently transcribed, rehearsed and recorded at the Royal College of Music. To watch the film and find out more about the knife, the research, the music and the Listening Gallery project please click on the link provided below.
If there are any questions that you’d to ask, or comments that you’d like to make, please do post them below.
Click here to see the film about the notation knife on Vimeo.
Click here to find out more about the Listening Gallery project.
The Listening Gallery project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.