The Listening Gallery: Integrating Music with Exhibitions and Gallery Displays, Medieval to Baroque

Project start date: 2008-05 Project end date: 2010-04
The Listening Gallery was a knowledge transfer collaboration between the Royal College of Music (RCM) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). Stemming from research in music, art, design, and technology, the project connected objects in the V&A's collections with music that shares their rich and distinctive pasts. New and existing recordings of music were integrated into two V&A projects: (I) Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence (the V&A’s Spring 2009 exhibition, April to July 2009, which has since travelled to other international venues) and (II) Medieval and Renaissance Europe (a series of eleven new galleries, which re-opened after major renovation in December 2009; the collection is one of the finest in the world, and its redisplay will have a minimum lifespan of 25 years). The music employed in the Listening Gallery – much of which was especially recorded by RCM staff and students, using instruments from the RCM Museum and manuscripts from the RCM Library – comes from precisely those years, those cities, those spectacles represented by objects in the V&A’s galleries. The music and the artefacts on display were typically commissioned by the same patrons, and to experience them reunited enhances understanding of the periods, places, and people represented. The variety of musical styles, genres, and instruments covered across European art and culture from 1000-1800 has required the consideration of a wide range of musicological sources. Moreover, the input provided by performers to early music scholarship has been essential, particularly for the earliest works where hands-on music making is often the best means of addressing interpretative and notation questions. Recordings have been embedded into the galleries and delivered through audio/video-points (i.e. touch screen displays with hi-definition headphones) and through dedicated websites where music and images can be accessed and experienced. The project is distinctive in the quality of recordings made, in the extensive links between music and objects in the galleries, and in the application of state-of-the-art technology in delivering a multisensory experience for museum visitors. For further information, including details of recordings, events, published reports, and video documentaries, see
Subject domains: 
Methods usedCategory
2d scanning and photographyData capture
Audio-visual interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
CollatingData analysis
Content analysisData analysis
CurationStrategy and project management
Desktop publishing and pre-pressData publishing and dissemination
Disk publishingData publishing and dissemination
DocumentationStrategy and project management
General project managementStrategy and project management
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
IndexingData analysis
Interface designData publishing and dissemination
Moving image captureData capture
Music compositionPractice-led research
Music recognitionData capture
Record linkagesData analysis
Resource sharingData publishing and dissemination
Resource sharingCommunication and collaboration
Searching and queryingData analysis
Security planningStrategy and project management
Sound analysisData analysis
Sound compressionData structuring and enhancement
Sound editingPractice-led research
Sound editingData structuring and enhancement
Sound encodingData structuring and enhancement
Sound encoding - MIDIData structuring and enhancement
Sound generationPractice-led research
Sound generationData capture
Sound recordingPractice-led research
Sound recordingData capture
Spatial data analysisData analysis
Statistical analysisData analysis
Textual interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Use of existing digital dataData capture
Video and moving image compressionPractice-led research
Video and moving image compressionData structuring and enhancement
Video editingPractice-led research
Video editingData structuring and enhancement
Video post productionPractice-led research
VisualisationData analysis
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Content types created: 
Software tools used: 
  • Microsoft Office XP
Source material used:  
Objects in the V&A collections, music manuscripts
Digital resource created:  
New and existing recordings of music were embedded into the V&A's galleries and delivered through audio/video-points (i.e. touch screen displays with hi-definition headphones) and through dedicated websites where music and images can be accessed and experienced.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 

The following unpublished transcriptions are available for consultation in the RCM Library:

•Domine Deus, from the Messa con 5 strumenti by Davide Perez, RCM MS 977

•V&A Notation Knives

•Late-17th century English keyboard manuscript, RCM MS 2093:
A Preludium, Anon
The Criar, Anon
Dr Blow’s Voluntary, John Blow
Doctor Bulls Grounds, John Bull
Come away, sweet love, John Dowland
A Preludium, Anon
The Canaries, Anon
Voluntary, I marriage would forswear, John Maynard
A Preludium, Matthew Locke
Doctor Bull’s Grownd, John Bull
Fancie, William Byrd
A Voluntary 1, Anon (Thomas Weelkes)
A Voluntary 2, Thomas Weelkes
Voluntary, Benjamin Rogers
Voluntary, Anon
Farranellas Ground, Anon
Trumpet Aire, Abiell Whichello

• Dennis F (2010), Scattered knives and dismembered songs: Cutlery, music, and the rituals of dining, Renaissance Studies, 24, 156-184.

• Nuti G, Solomon A, & Williamon A (2009), The Listening Gallery: Integrating music with exhibitions and gallery displays, in A Williamon, S Pretty, & R Buck (eds.), Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2009 (pp. 341-346), European Association of Conservatoires (AEC).

• Music in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

• Performing Medieval Chant


Blog entries relating to the Listening Gallery are collected under ‘Music’:


For further information on the following performances, see ‘Events’ at Performances were given by students and staff from the RCM’s Department of Historical Performance.

• 5 April 2009: Performance of works by Couperin, Clerambault, Hotteterre, Marais, and others to mark the opening of Baroque 1620-1800 (Norfolk House Music Room, V&A).

• 5 June 2009: Performance of works by Lully, Ristori, Schmidt, Marais, and others as part of the conference Baroque: An International Language (Hochauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, V&A).

• 19 July 2009: Performance of works by Corelli, Benevoli, Mazzocchi, Hotteterre, and others to mark the end Baroque 1620-1800 (Norfolk House Music Room, V&A).

• 1 December 2009: A series of short performances to mark the opening of Medieval and Renaissance Europe (Galleries 8 and 64, V&A).

• 19 February 2010: Performance of Renaissance madrigals as part of the conference Revealing Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Makers and Markets 1100-1600 (Hochauser Auditorium, Sackler Centre, V&A).


New recordings from the project can be downloaded and heard at:

Medieval 1000-1400

Renaissance 1400-1600

Baroque 1620-1800

Recordings of Medieval music

• Lent Responsory, Domine ne in ira tua

• Laudate Dominum, Vidi Aquam, Confitemini Domino, Resurrexi

• Responsory for 2nd Advent, Missus est Gabriel

• Sandionysian Sequence, Salve Pater Dyonisi

• Chants from the Book of Revelation:
II Vespers Several Martyrs, Isti sunt Sancti
Magnificat Antiphon for II Vespers All Saints, O quam gloriosum
Antiphon All Saints, Et omnes Angeli
Antiphon All Saints, Redemisti nos

• Common of Pastors, Mass Chant Alleluia. Memento Domine David

• Common of Martyrs, Communion Antiphon Inveni David servum meum

• Johannes Ciconia, O rosa bella, ballata

• Anonymous 14th century caccia, Seghugi a corta e can per la foresta

• L’alta belleza tua, Guillaume Dufay

• Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ave Maris Stella

• Hail, Star of the Ocean, gateway to heaven, Mother of our Maker, hear our prayer, O maiden!

• Hymn for Common of Virgins, Jesu Corona Virginum

Recordings of Renaissance music

• D'où vient cela, Claudin de Sermisy

• Amanti, io vo’ pur dir, Francesco Corteccia, Primo Libro de madrigali a quattro voci, Venice 1544

• Venetiana Gagliarda, Antonio Gardane, Intabolatura nova di varie sorte de balli da sonare, Venice 1551

• Washa mesa, Der Hupff Auff, Gassenhauer Hans Neusidler

• Anon, Notation knives, Grace, Benediction

• John Dowland, Fine knacks for ladies, Second Book of Songs or Ayres, London 1600

• Il Trionfo di Bacco, Lorenzo de’ Medici

• Canto di Lanzi Allegri, Anon, FBNC ms Banco Rari 230, fol 108’-109

• Se mai per maraviglia, Anon, intabulated by Franciscus Bossinensis, Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran in canto figurato, Venice 1509

• Ales regres, Hayne van Ghizeghem, Odhecaton, Venice 1501

Recordings of Baroque music

• Diverse bizzarie sopra la vecchia sarabanda o pur Ciacona, Nicola Matteis, Arie diverse … preludy, alemande, sarabande, correnti, gighe, fantasie, minuite ed altre toccate a due corde, libro primo, libro secondo, London, 1676.

• Domine Deus, from Messa con 5 strumenti, Davide Perez

• Chaconne, Michel de la Barre

• Air, Menuet 1 and 2, Caprice, Menuet, Marin Marais

• Pourquoy, doux rossignol, Jacques-Martin Hotteterre

• Le Dodo ou L’amour ou Berceau, François Couperin

• Cantata Orphée, Louis-Nicolas Clérambault

• Royal College of Music RCM MS 2093:
Anon, A preludium
Anon, The Criar
John Blow, Dr Blow’s Voluntary
John Bull, Doctor Bulls Grounds
John Dowland, Come away, sweet love
Anon, A preludium
Anon, The Canaries
John Maynard, Voluntary, I marriage would forswear
Matthew Locke, A preludium
John Bull, Doctor Bull’s Grownd
William Byrd, Fancie
Anon (Thomas Weelkes), a Voluntary 1
Thomas Weelkes, a Voluntary 2
Benjamin Rogers, Voluntary
Anon, Voluntary
Anon, Farranellas Ground
Abiell Whichello, Trumpet Aire


Our documentary series offers a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the processes, products, and impact of the Listening Gallery. Drawing on the experience of curators, performers, researchers, and recording engineers, the videos provide insight into the relevance of music to objects on display at the V&A, as well as the rehearsal and recording work of RCM musicians. See also ‘Outputs’ at

• Music for the Baffo harpsichord

• A notation knife

• Music from Choirbook Leaves

• Music from a Missal from the Abbey of Saint Denis


Commentaries on the music in Medieval and Renaissance Europe can be heard (and read) via touch screen displays in the V&A’s galleries. In the commentaries, the connections with specific objects are explained and the music is set in its historical and geographical context.

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
Royal College of Music
Other institutions involved:
Victoria and Albert Museum

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Aaron Williamon, Ashley Solomon
Other staff:Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:Curatorial support from the Victoria and Albert Museum

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordAaron Williamon
TitleThe Listening Gallery: Integrating Music with Exhibitions and Gallery Displays, Medieval to Baroque
Record created2010-08-12
Record updated2010-08-12 10:29
URL of record
Citation of recordAaron Williamon: The Listening Gallery: Integrating Music with Exhibitions and Gallery Displays, Medieval to Baroque. <> created: 2010-08-12, last updated 2010-08-12 10:29

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