© Valentin and Ellen Davydov (2023)

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How did I started to research the inner song? I have been playing the cello since my childhood. However, when I reached my late teens, I
could feel the music and sing musically, but my interpretation with the cello was somehow flat and not very musical. In order to correct that, I had to rebuild my whole technique, relearning almost from scratch. After a while, it was a little better. However, it is only when I started to truly do what my cello teacher was teaching me, i.e., to listen “internally,” “sing in my head,” eventually out loud, and then play from that singing, that I started to really improve.

Intrigued by that positive and tangible musical and technical evolution, I started to question that experience. How could “listening internally” improve the instrumental playing so much? What was I listening to when I was “listening internally”? How did that imagined melody interact with my instrument practice?

This moment of musical questioning coincided with two important discoveries: first, my discovery of phenomenology at Jean-François Courtine’s seminar on Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations at the Sorbonne, and second, my discovery of a little book written by the French cello pedagogue Xavier Gagnepain called Du musicien général… au violoncelliste en particulier (2001). With the first one, I discovered a possible method of exploration of intimate experience; with the second one, a name for that mysterious imaginary singing that Gagnepain called “chant intérieur,” in English, “inner song.”

The research I am presenting now is an attempt to philosophically answer the questions I had as a cellist.

All the interviews that guided, supported, and made possible the development of this research are in the “music” section. The present section introduces the philosophical side of my research. The latest element is my doctoral thesis, available in the “Dissertation” section. However, previous works and several articles dealing with specific aspects of inner song are also online here. The Interviews section presents some interviews with phenomenologists on the notion of inner song. Finally, a bibliography and directory of interesting references related to inner song can also be consulted.

Find out about the research on Inner Song here!

It is in French and English.

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