At the end of my last blog I referred to a passage in the writings of the French musicologist Lionel Dauriac in which he talks about the “chant intérieure” or internal song which, for many, perhaps most listeners, accompanies any exposure to a musical performance. Roughly speaking, our mind – or rather that inner chamber of the brain that echoes whatever we are hearing externally - sings along in sympathy.
In an overlap between two research projects, I’ve been gathering together some material on listening to 19th-century British military bands. Some of the most interesting episodes come from Britain’s imperial project. Here’s Mrs M. H. Ouvry, the young wife of an officer of the 9th Lancers, writing her diary in April 1857 – amid the first stirrings of the so-called ‘Indian Mutiny’:
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We are looking for essentially private and personal experiences of listening to music that are documented, rather than professional music criticism or reviews of performances or recordings. By ‘documented evidence’, we really mean things like diaries, memoirs, letters and oral history – things that are already written down or recorded.