A Musicology of Performance: Theory and Method Based on Bach's Solos for Violin - cover image


Dorottya Fabian

Published On





  • English

Print Length

354 pages (xii + 342)


Paperback156 x 19 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.74" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 21 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.81" x 9.21")


Paperback1103g (38.91oz)
Hardback1489g (52.52oz)



OCLC Number





  • AVA
  • AVGC4
  • AVH


  • MUS020000
  • MUS040000
  • MUS023040
  • MUS006000
  • MUS050000


  • ML410.B13


  • musical performance
  • J. S. Bach
  • violin
  • perception
  • baroque performance practice
Thoth logoPowered by Thoth.

A Musicology of Performance

Theory and Method Based on Bach's Solos for Violin

This book examines the nature of musical performance. In it, Dorottya Fabian explores the contributions and limitations of some of these approaches to performance, be they theoretical, cultural, historical, perceptual, or analytical. Through a detailed investigation of recent recordings of J. S. Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, she demonstrates that music performance functions as a complex dynamical system. Only by crossing disciplinary boundaries, therefore, can we put the aural experience into words. A Musicology of Performance provides a model for such a method by adopting Deleuzian concepts and various empirical and interdisciplinary procedures.
Fabian provides a case study in the repertoire, while presenting new insights into the state of baroque performance practice at the turn of the twenty-first century. Through its wealth of audio examples, tables, and graphs, the book offers both a sensory and a scholarly account of musical performance. These interactive elements map the connections between historically informed and mainstream performance styles, considering them in relation to broader cultural trends, violin schools, and individual artistic trajectories.
A Musicology of Performance is a must read for academics and post-graduate students and an essential reference point for the study of music performance, the early music movement, and Bach’s opus.


The study of recordings as evidence of interpretation and performance style is without a doubt one of the most seminal revolutions in contemporary musicological research. Over the years, this vast abundance of documented data has been gradually recognized as fundamental in the identification of prevailing norms of practice, influential personalities, and changes of performance style occurring over time. Within the growing community of scholars engaged in the topic, Dorottya Fabian has long been considered a central figure in the study of violin recorded performances. This book serves as a continuation of her detailed investigation of recordings made over the years of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - a study which has been ongoing for more than two decades. Fabian's work is fresh and original. [...] In short: A book worthwhile indeed.

Eitan Ornoy

"Dorottya Fabian, A Musicology of Performance: Theory and Method Based on Bach's Solos for Violin". Empirical Musicology Review (1559-5749), vol. 11, no. 3/4, 2016. doi:10.18061/emr.v11i3-4.5566

Full Review

Table of Contents

1. Dancing to Architecture?

1.1 The Problems of Researching and Writing about Music Performance

1.2 Summary: Recordings, Aims and Method

2. Theoretical Matters

2.1 Cultural Theories

2.2 Analytical Theories

2.3 Music Performance and Complex Systems

2.4 Performance Studies, Oral Culture and Academia

2.5 Conclusion

3. Violinists, Violin Schools and Emerging Trends

3.1 Violinists

3.2 Violin Schools

3.3 The Influence of HIP on MSP

3.4 Diversity within Trends and Global Styles

3.5 Overall Findings and Individual Cases

3.6 Conclusion

4. Analyses of Performance Features

4.1 Tempo Choices

4.2 Vibrato

4.3 Ornamentation

4.4 Rhythm

4.5 Bowing, Articulation and Phrasing

4.6 Conclusions

5. Affect and Individual Difference: Towards a Holistic Account of Performance

5.1 Differences within the MSP and within the HIP Styles

5.2 Multiple Recordings of Violinists

5.3 The Holistic Analysis of Interpretations

5.4 Idiosyncratic Versions and Listeners’ Reactions

5.5 Conclusions

6. Conclusions and an Epilogue: The Complexity Model of Music Performance, Deleuze and Brain Laterality

6.1 Summary

6.2 Where to from Here?—Epilogue List of Audio Examples List of Tables List of Figures Discography References Index


Dorottya Fabian

Full Professor at the School of Arts and Media at University of New South Wales