Encounters with Participatory Music
Chamber music occupies a complicated position within 21st-century society. Borne out of a tradition of participatory domestic music making, the term now simultaneously refers to both an activity and a repertoire. However, there is little evidence that either of these maintains a similar cultural locus to chamber music’s origins. The modern activity of chamber music has been primarily professionalised and elite, with its repertoire as part of the established canon of western art music. Within musicological writing, chamber music is regularly noted as being emblematic of an equal society and characterised by its intimacy. Paradoxically, this equality and intimacy is within a performative framework that is exclusionary: although chamber music is still hailed as an intimate art form, there are limits to its inclusivity. Whilst it may have been more accessible at its origins, it does not fulfil the same societal niche now. This chapter attempts to evaluate chamber music as a form of interpersonal musicking within the 21st century, prompting an exploration of how chamber music may be redefined to escape potential anachronism.