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Transforming C19 HIP (TCHIP) is a 5-year research project hosted by the University of Oxford Faculty of Music. The project began in April 2016 and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The orchestral and chamber music of the C19th is some of the most widely performed music, and yet – until now – most professional performances of this repertoire have been relatively untouched by what is known about C19th historical style. TCHIP seeks to understand why historical performance scholarship has had little influence on professional performance, and aims to bridge the widely-recognized gap between performers and scholars.
What makes this project different is that it deliberately employs innovative, interdisciplinary approaches and methods. Half of the research team have backgrounds in historical performance and musicology, and the other half in empirical musicology. The research strands are conceived, planned and delivered in ways that reflect these different fields and move away from the methods commonly used in traditional HIP (historically informed performance) scholarship.
The project’s historical research is deliberately not focussed on the study of virtuosi and treatises; rather, we employ research methods associated with social and cultural musicology, and aim to contribute to knowledge of under-researched groups (e.g. orchestral and theatre musicians). Similarly, our focus is not on the public act of performance, but on everything that leads up that point. Previous research has been overwhelmingly centred on performance, despite the fact that performance is only the final stage of a process that leads from initial preparation through rehearsal to public presentation. We believe that changing performance depends upon changing ‘pre-performance’ – the rich and complex set of practices that precede performance. We spend a lot of time in archives in the UK, USA and Europe looking at a wide variety of sources (newspapers, journals, letters etc) and we have studied several large collections of annotated orchestral parts spanning the entire C19th.
We will be looking at the development of HIP over the last 30 years and examining current practices in HIP ensembles, as well as the impact of specialist conservatoire training on professional period instrument performance. We are also researching the experiences of HIP audiences, and will be engaging with industry management professionals to look at how the realities of the profession today influence artistic planning, rehearsal/performance and attitudes to historical performance research.
More details about the project’s aims and objectives can be found here but one of our biggest hopes is to open up new (historically evidenced) expressive possibilities for performers, and to help them to develop an understanding of C19th historical style which facilitates confident, and potentially more radical, expressive approaches.

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