A performed ethnography of listening

Bede Williams, Huw Lloyd-Richards

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper explores the expression of listeners’ significations after listening to a piece of orchestral music. It describes the dialogical creation and performance of an ethnographic evocation of the experience of listening – a Performance Ethnography of Listening. 40 members of 4 Listening Groups listened to a four-movement piece for string orchestra “Photography” by Errollyn Wallen and gave their responses which were taped and transcribed. A Source Text was created from the raw responses from which was written a Performance Script for two ‘voices’. The script was set within the time signature of the piece. A Listening Event was designed to enable, an audience including the Listening Group members, the composer, the conductor, the ethnographer, and the ‘voices’ (60 people) to listen to, and discuss a ‘triptych’ performance of the work – the central panel being the performed ethnography with the music. This paper describes the ethnographic process, includes the Performance Script and audio examples of the performed ethnography. It theorises our practice in terms of the work of: Nicholas Cook (1998) on the relationship between words and music; Anthony Gritten (2017) on intermedial practice; Lawrence Kramer (2011) on criteria for ekphrastic practice; and in the light of existing explorations in the HARK Project on, listening habitus, and listening repertoire – ‘auditory play’ and issues in sensory ethnography.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018
EventListening Experience Database Conference - Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Mar 20186 Mar 2018


ConferenceListening Experience Database Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityMilton Keynes


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