Nightingale transforms the traditional approach to historically informed performance (HIP) with the assistance of historical instruments and digital technologies.
In the twentieth century, historically informed performance revolutionised the approach to early music, becoming a popular new aesthetic trend worldwide. It had a great impact on the music scene, including festivals, concert series and musical institutions. This practice was based on the study of written texts and the use of old instruments, either originals or replicas. However, its methods present two serious problems: i) written texts alone do not enable us to imagine properly how the music might have sounded, and ii) we filter this information through our modern understanding of historical aesthetics.
Course of action
Nightingale is a step forward in the study of 19th-century piano playing, through a practice-led, cyclical research process that embodies the audible evidence from a 19th-century perspective, alternating theoretical research with empirical formulations including practical experimentation – such as emulation and embodiment – and computing technologies. It advances research into the extraction of stylistic, expressive parameters from piano roll recordings such as asynchronisation or contrametric rubato, arpeggiation, agogics and articulation, and furthers the study of fingerings, pedalling and dynamics. This method has not yet been employed in the study of Spanish music, so there is no published research on it.
Nightingale reveals performance practices in vogue during the 19th-century, not only in theory but documented in sound, offering a variety of new expressive choices and sparking the imagination and creativity of pianists. The results of this project will serve to invigorate lost practices, bringing to light an expressivity characteristic of 19th-century pianism in Spain, and challenging current practices.
Symbolically evocating the expressivity of the bird’s song, this project is the first ever performance-based study of 19th-century Spanish pianists, whose interpretations, still unrecognised, expose noticeable stylistic divergences with modern interpretations.