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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16807

Title: Percy Grainger: Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Folk Music
Authors: Freeman, Graham William
Advisor: Kippen, James R.
Department: Music
Keywords: Percy Grainger
English Folk Song, Aesthetics
Issue Date: 20-Jan-2009
Abstract: Percy Grainger collected English folk song only for a short period between 1905 and 1909 as part of the revival of interest in all things English among antiquarians, folklorists, and nationalists. Grainger’s publication of his transcriptions and analysis in the Journal of the Folk Song Society in 1908 is considered one of the most insightful and groundbreaking examinations of English folk song of its time, far removed from the dilettante activities of many other collectors. His article was, however, harshly criticized by the Editorial Committee of the Journal, and Grainger subsequently never again published any significant transcriptions of English folk music. Grainger’s English folk song transcriptions have received their fair share of attention from ethnomusicologists. Thus far, however, no one has examined the connections between this aspect of his musical activities and his modernist philosophy of music. I contend that Grainger’s article contains the seeds of what would eventually become his mature, though never fully realized, musical aesthetic, and that it was this aesthetic that allowed him to examine English folk song in a manner never before imagined by other collectors. This dissertation follows the thread of his aesthetic throughout his numerous musical interests in order to demonstrate the potency of his philosophy as manifest in his examination of folk song in the Journal. To this end, I bring to bear a wide range of critical methodologies, including those of ethnomusicology, aesthetics, and critical theory. Grainger never spelled out with any clarity the fundamental tenets of his aesthetic, but I believe that such an aesthetic can be reconstructed through a broad examination of his writings and his music. Grainger shares his role in this dissertation with many other characters including Benjamin Britten, Evald Tang Kristensen, Cecil Sharp, Bela Bartok, Ferruccio Busoni, and even Jacques Derrida, often even ceding his place in the spotlight to them. This is, however, a crucial occurrence, for as my examination demonstrates, this fully realized version of his aesthetic means that Grainger emerges as a far more important and revolutionary thinker in the history of music than he has thus far been considered.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16807
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Faculty of Music - Doctoral theses

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