Research

Some of the more controversial issues surrounding cathedral music are given rigorous academic treatment in the following research papers. They are published in an easy-to-print format and you can continue from one article straight to the next.

Cathedral Music in the 21st Century - A Reality Check  (PDF file)
This paper provides an in-depth analysis of two separate, year-long monitoring surveys of cathedral music. Its findings are likely both to astonish and disturb. Myths are demolished and urgent questions raised. They should give serious pause for thought, especially, to those to whom the choral tradition has been entrusted.

The voices of boy and girl choristers - Is there a difference? And does it matter? (PDF file)
In recent years, there have been a number of investigations aimed at discovering whether there is a perceptible difference between the voices of boys and girls. The authors of two such studies were very equivocal in their findings and questioned the uniqueness of boys' voices. Scattered among their statistics are references to "male hegemony" and "sexism". In this article, Dr Arthur Saunders, Visiting Fellow at Bournemouth University, analyses the published research, challenging its methodology and taking issue with its conclusions. If his analysis is correct, that can only mean one thing: the academics who carried out this research must acknowledge their errors as publicly as they have asserted their claims, and where prejudice has been imputed to those who see things differently, the accusation must be withdrawn forthwith.

The Decline of the Traditional Church Choir: Part 1 (PDF file)
With the arrival of the Oxford Movement in the 1830s, the custom of surpliced choirs of men and boys which, in previous times, had been largely confined to cathedrals, began to spread to ordinary parish churches. Over the course of the next hundred or so years, the number of such choirs rose dramatically, so much so that, by the 1960s of the last century, they had become an almost universal norm. Then, suddenly, at an alarming rate, they began to disappear. In this article, Dr Saunders traces the decline and draws a very bleak conclusion for the future of the tradition and the Church itself.

The Decline of the Traditional Church Choir: Part 2 (PDF file)
In this second part of Dr Saunders' research into the decline of the traditional parish church choir, he elaborates two hypotheses for the decline and posits a likely scenario of the choral scene as it approaches 2030. In this scenario, more or less all the boys will have 'walked', but so will the girls who arrived when choirs went mixed.

The Decline of the Traditional Church Choir: Part 3 (PDF file)
In this part of his research, Dr Saunders, a physicist by profession, uses analogies with the physical world to model the decay of the traditional church choir, and in this way makes some of the statistical underpinning a little easier for the non-specialist.

The Decline of the Traditional Church Choir: Part 4 (PDF file)
In this article, Dr Saunders goes into greater mathematical detail to explain the decline of the traditional church choir, and, in particular, he introduces a third theorem – namely, that, just as the boys tend to 'walk' when girls are introduced into an all-male choir, so will the girls once the boys start leaving.

What's Going On? (PDF file)
In this article, Tim Rogerson, looked at how often girls' choirs were singing in nine English cathedrals in 2004. He obtained his information from the websites of the cathedrals concerned. What he discovered was that there was substantial variation between cathedrals. While in some, the girls sang a substantial proportion of services, in others, their contribution was more modest.
Since this first survey, things have moved on. For a start, there are more cathedrals with a girls' choir now than there were in 2004, and in some cathedrals, the girls have overtaken the boys in the number of services at which they sing. CTCC now believes it is time to keep a more systematic eye on all of our cathedrals and to quantify and assess changes being made. It has, accordingly, set up a detailed monitoring scheme of all cathedrals and plans to publish reports on a regular basis.

Choir Revue 2007 (PDF file)
These days, things move extremely quickly in the world of cathedral music, which is why, by 2007, David Watson thought it high time to review the situation. From his analysis here, we see very clearly the very dramatic changes which have occurred since Ringing the Changes was published in 2003. What immediately becomes clear from the data is that nowadays the cathedral without a girls' choir is the exception. Nevertheless, ancient practice is by no means dead. It is also possible that the movement to establish more girls' cathedral choirs has lost much of its impetus- although time alone will tell.

Ringing the Changes (PDF file)
In 2003, the Campaign made an attempt to find out in broad outline who was doing the singing (the traditional choir, a new girls' choir, a mixed-choir of boys and girls or a choir of mixed adults) in cathedrals round the U.K. and in Eire. These are the results of that enquiry.

Survey of Developments in the Cathedral Choirs of the United Kingdom: A Report (PDF file)
The Campaign had hardly got its boots on, let alone got into its stride, when it decided to conduct a Survey of cathedrals around the country. A questionnaire was sent to all Cathedral Organists. It solicited information and opinions on a number of topics relevant to the future of cathedral music. Around 60% of Organists completed the questionnaire, and it is on their responses that the Survey's findings are based.