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To beat or not to beat

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Name: Jean-Loup Gagnon Main Subject: Harpsichord Research Supervisors: Bert Mooiman, Peter Van Heyghen Title of Research: To beat or not to beat: reflections on musical leadership practices in the 18th century Research Question: What did musical leadership mean in the 18th century? Summary of Results: In the last century, historically informed performance practice has gained more and more popularity within the musical scene. In fact, musicians have being increasingly interested in historical articulation, phrasing, instrumentation, ornamentation, tempi, etc. Surprisingly, historical conducting practices have not been significantly investigated and hardly ever in a practical way. It may be the reason why there is a lack of experimentation in this domain, why even Early Music ensembles are using the modern way of conducting, which is to have an interpretative conductor that stands in front of the group. Would it not also be relevant to know how composers like Mozart, Handel or Bach would have “conducted” their works? Did Mozart conduct his wind serenade “Gran partita” by making gestures like we can see in Forman's movie Amadeus? Can we learn from their practical experience? This research demystifies conducting practices in the 18th century and brings a practical to the subject. Biography: Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in maestro al cembalo at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, Jean-Loup Gagnon studies improvisation and leadership from the harpsichord with Patrick Ayrton and harpsichord performance with Fabio Bonizzoni. His researches focus on leadership practices in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and on stylistic streams like the Mannheim School and the Galant Style, which constituted the musical grammar for genius composers such as Mozart.

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