11 Dec 2013

From Delius to Dizzee Rascal: New Project to Map our Musical Experiences

Dizzee Rascal - image by MusicMafiaUK on Flikr

Dizzee Rascal - image by MusicMafiaUK on Flikr

Do you have documented evidence of listening experiences that you would like to record? Could you contribute to a ground-breaking database? An ambitious new project is being launched by The Open University and the Royal College of Music to produce the world’s first database of the impact of music on people’s lives.

The Listening Experience Database will – for the first time – create a mass of records of people’s personal experiences of listening to music in any period or culture. This will include what they listened to, where and when they listened to it and the effect it had on them.

Delius - from the Delius Trust, London

Delius - from the Delius Trust, London

Members of the public are invited to input their own evidence of musical experiences – such as diaries, memoirs and letters – into the database, as well as search it themselves to see how other people have been affected by music.

Professor David Rowland, Dean of Arts at The Open University, said: “Music is a deeply personal thing and touches all our lives – whether it’s a nursery rhyme we remember from childhood or a song we have come to love as we grow up, each of us has our own individual soundtrack. Now, for the first time, we will be able to bring together a massive range of personal listening experiences from any historical period and from any culture.”

Dr Ingrid Pearson from the Royal College of Music said: “The database will help us to form a better understanding of the effect of music on listeners and the ways in which it is, and has been, valued and understood in society. Amongst other things, we believe it will enhance our understanding of how recording and broadcasting technologies have affected people’s relationship with music, and offer a new range of evidence of how music is studied and learned. It will also sharpen our insight into the settings and ways in which music has been performed.”

The Listening Experience Database follows the launch in 2007 of the Reading Experience Database (UK RED), which gathers people’s experience of things they have read – from relatives’ diaries to newspapers and textbooks.


Notes to Editors
The Listening Experience Database project has been funded by a £750,000 research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It is hoped the new database will provide a better understanding of how, when and where people listen to music and the effect it has had on them. The database will become a valuable resource for a range of sectors and groups, such as performers, educators, social historians, libraries and museums.

About the Royal College of Music
Founded in 1882 and situated in London directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal College of Music (RCM) is one of the world’s most important centres for musical education. Illustrious alumni include composers such as Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst; singers such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Thomas Allen and Alfie Boe; conductors such as Leopold Stokowski, Sir Colin Davis and John Wilson; instrumentalists such as Sir James Galway, John Lill and Natalie Clein. The RCM of the 21st century is a vibrant community of 750 talented and open-minded musicians and researchers from more than 60 countries. See

Photo credits:

Dizzee Rascal photo by MusicMafiaUK on Flikr; reproduced under Creative Commons

Delius - image reproduced from Delius Trust, London

Yes Music in the Ampitheater, 1970photo by Ed Uthman on Flikr ; reproduced under Creative Commons

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