Venanzio Rauzzini, The Father of a New Style in English Singing: Scandalous Lessons (Forthcoming).
Since the eighteenth-century, the one-to-one singing lesson has been the most common method of delivery. The scenario allows the teacher to familiarise and individualise the lesson to suit the needs of their student; however, it also facilitates speculation regarding what was actually taught and how creating mystery around vocal style and technique. More troubling is the heightened risk of gossip and rumour where the private space generates speculation about the student-teacher relationship. Venanzio Rauzzini (1745-1810), an Italian castrato living in England who became a highly sought-after vocal master, was particularly susceptible since his students tended to be women, whose moral character was under more scrutiny than their male counterparts. Even so in 1792, The Bath Chronicle oddly proclaimed the Italian castrato as ‘the father of a new style in English singing’. Branding Rauzzini as a founder of an English style was not an error, but indicative of deep-seeded anxieties about the Italian invasion on England’s musical culture. Scandalous Lessons allows teaching to take centre stage in the socio-historical narrative, providing unique insights into music culture in Georgian England. This book examines the layers of societal pressure an Italian vocal master needed to negotiate to bolster his credibility. Using a microhistory approach, this study will be the first to focus in on the impact of teaching and will cast new light on issues of celebrity culture, gender and nationalism in Georgian England.
The Collected Works of Allan Ramsay
The Collected Works of Allan Ramsay is an AHRC-funded project based at the University of Glasgow. PI on the project is Professor Murray Pittock. The project will produce several new editions of Ramsay’s work including The Gentle Shepherd edited by David McGuiness and Steve Newman; Poems edited by Rhona Brown; The Tea-Table Miscellany edited by Murray Pittock, David McGuiness and Brianna Robertson-Kirkland; Prose edited by Rhona Brown and Craig Lamont; and The Evergreen. For more information about the project please visit: www.gla.ac.uk/edinburghenlightenment.
Scotland’s Singing for Health Network (2021-2023)
This project will bring together Singing for Health practitioners, researchers, and health professionals from across Scotland to form a network which supports practitioners and facilitates collaboration and knowledge exchange. Singing for Health groups support the management of a range of conditions such as respiratory conditions, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, and mental health concerns. As of yet, there is no Scotland-wide network that unites practitioners, researchers and health professionals working in these health-related fields. Many practitioners and researchers work in isolation, but this network aims to bring these disparate groups together to build a shared community of practice, and for researchers to share their knowledge in an accessible format. In keeping with the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland’s aim that by 2025 all health practitioners will be practicing person-centred ‘realistic medicine’, Scotland’s Singing for Health Network will explore scaled models of singing on prescription in practice. For more information and our contact email, please visit: https://www.rcs.ac.uk/research/staff-research/scotlands-singing-for-health-network/.
The Incredulous Singing Master: Domenico Corri (1746-1818)
In his 1810 singing treatise, The Singer’s Preceptor, Domenico Corri questioned the legitimacy of music masters working in Georgian England stating that there were many inconsistencies within the profession. Printed and sold in London, Corri’s intended buyer for his treatise was the young, elite, amateur woman, who was expected to become accomplished in the ornaments. Elite families relied on private music masters to provide music instruction, but music teaching was not standardised or licensed and masters could come from a variety of backgrounds. As such, hiring a quality music master was not an easy task, with several periodicals, treatises, and even fictitious depictions of private music lessons highlighting the dangers of employing a master who was too kind, cruel, seductive, or, as noted by Corri, fraudulent. The pupil relied on the master’s musical knowledge and opinion, particularly since learning to read music was effectively learning to read a foreign language. Even if a student became a fluent reader, there were many performing practices that were not encoded in music notation and could only be sufficiently learned and understood in practical lessons with a master.
Corri had already tried to address the issue of music orthography in his three-volume treatise published in Edinburgh in the early 1780s. Entitled A Select Collection of the Most Admired Songs, Duetts &c. he explicitly notated performance practice details that often were not written in music, such as vocal ornamentation, breath marks, dynamics, and a fully realised accompaniment. Though a detailed treatise, a pupil would still need a master to help them read and understand Corri’s complex musical material. His later treatise, The Singer’s Preceptor, maintained much of this detail, though the format was clearer. This treatise also included ‘The Life of Domenico Corri’ and a fictitious exchange between a master and his student answering many questions about music theory, history, and a variety of performing practices, which had not been addressed in his earlier work. By providing this information, Corri was demonstrating that he was a knowledgeable, skilled, and trustworthy master.
This paper will demonstrate that the manner in which Corri constructed his treatise was in response to ongoing anxieties regarding music teaching in Britain, particularly when it came to finding a quality music master, who was both musically and pedagogically skilled. The Singer’s Preceptor was not designed to replace the master; rather Corri was tactfully providing more detail than most treatises to gain the trust of his perspective pupils.
Climate Change Choir Panel Discussion and Singing Session (Summer 2021)
Organised along with my colleagues at the University of Glasgow, this event is part of Green Bothy, a six-month programme of public activities and events designed to demonstrate the vital role played by the arts and humanities in understanding and addressing climate emergency. The aim of this session is to discuss and offer practical solutions to help choir leaders and singers operate in a more carbon neutral and environmentally aware manner. To engage with the wider community of choir leaders and singers and challenge them to make changes in the way they’re currently working. We should try especially to reach out to older, more traditional choirs. Exploring the potential of song to raise awareness of the climate crisis and green activism.