I have often wondered why the question of Research in instrumental disciplines is so controversial. The core of the question seems to be whether or not they can express the apical knowledge commonly referred to as Research, similarly to other disciplines, in which theoretical and practical expression co-exist.
I’ve been trying to find an answer to this question for almost twenty years, dealing with Research about and within performance, and I therefore could state that one of the most ingrained reasons for this phenomenon is: instrumentalists themselves have never really supported this cause.
As a matter of fact, instrumentalists have allowed historians, doctors, psychologists, sociologists, and pedagogues to dispute about their instrument, its teaching, its timbre and performance. Instrumentalists have underestimated their responsibility towards this kind of knowledge that has already proved its effectiveness in the past. Moreover, they are not fighting for a right that is gradually being taken from them for reasons that range from the inertia of those who still consider musicians as holders of ancient craftsmanship to the imbalanced competition of the related university sectors relying on centuries of experience in Research.
The real key point is who should be in charge of this activity, not if it is worth to be pursued.
Such apical knowledge of our discipline belongs to us, because we are the only ones who can deal with it with the exhaustiveness that is typical of Research.
It is a fundamental right of our ancient, complex, and wonderful Art and most importantly, it’s a right of our students. This is a moment of profound transformations in which each of us is called to choose with how much awareness and energy to engage: our Art has not only to be passed on in the best possible way; we have the duty to clear the way for future times where Musicians and Researching Musicians will have different but perfectly complementary and synergistic paths. The Musician and the Research Musician are at the center of this Research, integrating the contributions of historians, doctors, psychologists, mathematicians and all those who study our instrumental activity from a well-founded but tangential and sometimes even distant disciplinary perspective.