Oh no! $129 on one book and it’s NOT VERY GOOD.

So, as a singer and PhD candidate researching singing, I was deeply interested in the new Potter and Sorrell publication: A History of Singing, published only 2 weeks ago by Cambridge Uni Press. I stumped up $129 for the privilege to have it sent out and it arrived, parcel post, this week. $129 is a substantial amount for a book. I am always prepared to spend good money on books when they contain something I might find useful. Well. Ahem. I was a wee bit disappointed.

Not by the writing, which is fine. Not really by the content, which, when you add it to Potter’s other works about singing, is a useful addition to his oeuvre, but because there is nothing new in it for me. Bugger. The authors write about the history of the conservatoire and quote Burney. I’ve read Burney. Bugger, and more bugger. Luckily, they do make a pretty contentious argument about the conservatoire environment on page 215, which is about the most useful paragraph in the book.

And some of the chapters are just plain weird. Why name the chapter currently titled “A great tradition: singing through history – history through singing” when it’s really “Classical music of the Indian Subcontinent”? Obfuscation there, IMHO. And why is it in the section called Recorded Voices? The layout of this book makes no sense. And also, why a bloody apologia at the beginning of this chapter? What is there to defend? I’m not sure why the authors are defending a perfectly reasonable subsection in their book. No-one has offered up a kategoria as yet. Why jump the gun?

Anyway. I’m a bit grumpy about it. So I now have to wait for the Oxford Handbook on Singing. Which isn’t due for publication until I’m ready to submit, darn it. On the other hand, my reading of Richard Sennett’s excellent book “The Craftsman”, which cost me $14 including postage, is making up for my financial loss on the other book. There are lots of stickies in this book, and I’m only up to chapter 4. It’s great. This book, plus my books on Cultural Psychology are becoming very useful theoretical underpinnings for my study. Definitely.

Now. Back to work on my last narrative.

And, just for a change, I’ve got some Monteverdi madrigals (Book 3), recorded in 2002 by Delitiae Musicae, Marco Longhini conductor, (Naxos) playing in the background. I’ve missed my Renaissance/early music connections. Earlier, I listened to Canteloube’s Chants D’Auvergnes, sung by Veronica Gens. Amazing how soothing to the savage breast music can be. Especially this grieving one.

 

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The Valley of Shit*

There’s a great post on PhD blog The Thesis Whisperer about the Valley of Shit which sums up my journey of the last six months. It has been a terrible time. I have found that more time for study=less study, and that without some strict goals and regular supervisor meetings I’ve been missing all sorts of deadlines, mostly self imposed.

Now I feel I am escaping the Valley. Notwithstanding the shit week I’ve had now that my dog has died (unexpectedly and traumatically), I feel I have found my study mojo again. I am out of Shit Valley and walking through the valley where I can see the sunrise. A nice feeling. I’m about to finish my last narrative chapter. Then I will be forging along trying to write my methods chapter, and my lit review and my introduction, and my discussion – oh dear. Now I just want to chuck my head in the sand again.

I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Richard Sennett called The Craftsman (Penguin, 2008), which sums up my feeling about apprenticeship. Signature Pedagogy is a similar idea, but Sennett writes that “thinking and feeling are contained within the process of making” (p.7). This is precisely what I am trying to understand, unpack and discuss. Another interesting article is one by Kim Burwell (2012), who writes about the value of apprenticeship. Just published, it is either really really good for my study or really really bad (jumped the gun, much?).

So, for May, my goals are to: finish my narrative chapters and send excerpts to my participants for member checking. Then, continue reading and taking notes about apprenticeship. Finding that ONE big idea and logically allowing it to fit with my study. (SO close!). Revisiting my lit review and beginning to rewrite. Huge, I know.

At least I’m not up shit creek anymore. Or in Shit Valley.