This page presents an overview of Prof Dr Andrew Lawrence-King's investigations for the Australian Centre for the History of Emotions, CHE.
Index to previous blog articles here
Follow the links below for more information about each research strand
Linked to his work as opera director (stage & music) Andrew's principal research area for CHE is Early Modern music-drama, specifically the early 17th century (the first 'operas' & Shakespeare's plays) and the medieval Play of Daniel.
HISTORICALLY INFORMED PERFORMANCE
In connection with his performing career as harpist and ensemble director, Andrew also investigates and writes about historical performance practice & the history of the harp.
CONSCIOUSNESS & PERFORMANCE
A new area of Andrew's research studies the interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind in complex interconnections between Griffin's theory of Dreams, Csikszentmihalyi's Flow for elite performers and sportsmen, Eriksonian Hypnosis, Ericsson's Deliberate Practice, the Feldenkrais Method etc.
Enargeia: Visions in Performance
Enargeia is the ancient Greek concept of the emotional power of detailed visual description, an idea enthusiastically taken up in the first 'operas' circa 1600. In music, Enargeia is realised by composers ‘painting the words’ and by singers’ frequent changes of tone-colour.
This investigation follows on from the previous project of Text, Rhythm, Action! That first study redefined the practical processes of performance. This next project looks beyond the act of performance itself to examine
pre-performance processes and post-performance outcomes, the effect of enargetic Visions on audiences.
Text, Rhythm, Action!
New Priorities in Historical Music-Drama
When musicians discuss historical repertoires today, certain topics often emerge: vibrato, period instruments, ornamentation etc. Early Music specialists have some additional favourite subjects of their own: pitch, temperament, historical techniques. But were these questions similarly important in the early seventeenth century, or did Monteverdi and Peri, Shakespeare and Dowland, have other priorities?
Historical priorities gave us the title for this research project, and also a new set of tools for investigating, rehearsing and performing early seventeenth-century music-drama. For each element of historical practice we have re-discovered, I have developed new methodologies for teaching and rehearsing. Since 2011, we have tested and refined our theories in countless master-classes and workshops, in professional concerts and recordings all around the world, and in 20 acclaimed productions of historical music-dramas, including 36 performances of the first surviving opera, Anima e Corpo (1600).
Such stuff as dreams are made on
Representing Emotions as Metaphor
Joe Griffin’s work on The Origin of Dreams (1993 & 1997) and creativity (2011) offers a new model to explain evolutionary, biological and psychological data. This concise but powerful theory proposes a fundamental Organising Idea, in which the REM-state and Metaphors play a central role. Potential implications for Emotions studies and many Humanities disciplines are profound and far-reaching.
Griffin’s theory has sparked off two new research projects within my investigations at the Australian Centre for the History of Emotions.
May the Flow be with you!
I hypothesise that Flow, as described by Csikzentmihalyi, is an Altered State of Consciousness, which can be understood within the Griffin model of the REM-state. I link Flow also to Eriksonian hypnosis, Ericsson’s Deliberate Practice and the Feldenkrais Method.
My aim is to build on existing work, and draw on my personal experience of Flow as an elite performer (music) and elementary student (fencing), in order to develop exercises, teaching techniques, training conditions and rehearsal methodologies that facilitate entry into Flow.
The Theatre of Dreams
Operatic Performance as an Early-Modern REM-state Activator
Period performance practices around the year 1600 show a strikingly close correlation to known gateways into trance (e.g. Ericksonian hypnosis).
Working from Griffin’s model of the REM-state as the “theatre of dreams”, I hypothesise that singers in the first operas were inducing their audiences into an Altered State of Consciousness by means of regular rhythm, particular patterns of speech, persuasive suggestion and authoritative commands, in which deep relaxation in slow rhythm was mixed with sharp calls for attention.
In the REM-state, audience members would be highly susceptible to the metaphors and story-telling of 17th-century drama, which might well then succeed in ‘moving the passions’.
Historical Action, Harps & HIP
Historical Action for Shakespeare and Early Opera. Period techniques for 18th-century (single-action) harp. Techniques and ornaments for historical Irish harps. Insights into particular repertoires. Continuo, Rhythm, but No Conducting!
In his writing, as in his performances, Andrew re-evaluates the habits of today's Early Music scene, testing the current consensus against the evidence of historical sources.
Read more about Harps & HIP here (under construction)