Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Artistic Assessment: Letters

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Artistic Assessment: Letters

Article excerpt

In "Opus versus output" (7 March), Nicholas Till asks, can artistic practice be research? "Original composition is research" was the mantra of composers on the research assessment exercise from its inception: indeed, it had been considered so by universities since the 15th century, and it was this principle that gradually allowed the admission of all practice- based creativity into the pantheon.

Till asserts that in 1996, "the quality of artistic practice was judged largely in relation to indicators of esteem". I was a member of the RAE music subpanel in 1996 and 2001; the history of women composers in Western classical music long ago alerted me to the simple fact that "indicators of esteem" do not necessarily match up with "indicators of quality". So I can testify that Till is wrong: the "old paradigm of the self-sufficient aesthetic artefact, judgeable on its own merits" was invoked in both of the assessment exercises with which I was involved.

The extent to which a musical composition should be supported by words when examined by academe is contentious. …

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