The 'Institute of Composing' and the Southbank Centre recently held a debate entitled, 'the end of literacy'. Chaired by Peter Wiegold and introduced by Gillian Moore, Head of Classical Music at the South Bank, three distinguished speakers, composer Richard Causton, writer Mark Ravenhill and critic Paul Morley, discussed the nature of contemporary literacy.

To see their individual contributions please visit our YouTube channel, and below you can see some of the responses received after the debate.

Clearly 'literacies' are changing fast – in education, in audiences, in writing about music. Students, for example, might know every stylistic nuance of a 70’s heavy metal genre, but would not have heard Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring'. They might have advanced studio skills but no instrumental ability. Be able to sight-read a complex piece, but have no sense of groove.

Journalism is fast shifting its perspectives in what is now understood as common musical 'canon'. Perhaps this is indeed the 'end of history', and there should be a more radical notion of new-music making out of, for example, the fast changing technologies of today.

However, we believe this is an important issue, and a timely moment to consider just what represents knowledge/ability/musical intelligence/history in students, practitioners, audience and writers today. Clearly the issue also goes beyond music.

Click on the names below to read responses to the debate:

Helen Julia Minors (Kingston University)

Piers Hellawell (composer Queens University, Belfast)

Simon Holt (composer)

Jacob Thompson-Bell (composer and artist, producer of The Sampler for Sound and Music)

Manus Carey (Manchester Camerata)

Ed McKeon (Director 3rd Ear)

John Miles (composer, jazz saxophonist) 




Page last updated: Thursday 04 October 2012