A study in terms: definitions of ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ in Western art music

Beale, R (2016) A study in terms: definitions of ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ in Western art music. In: British Forum for Ethnomusicology and Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference, 6 - 8 January 2016, University of Bangor, UK.


The terms ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ differentiate categories of people in many fields, but what do these terms mean when applied to Western art music? This paper looks at definitions of the words ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’, discussing how ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ tags, together with other labels, are used as means to credit or discredit, and uphold or denounce, musicians, and how the implications of these terms, which often reflect status, have changed. Given that part of the definition of what a professional is relates to money, this paper considers financial relationships between professionals and amateurs. Information will be drawn from written texts and the everyday talk of musicians and others. Particular points of reference will be Stebbins (1979) and Syed (2010), who consider professional and amateur activities outside music, for example sport, and whose work suggests ways to develop a clearer picture of the relationship between the terms when applied to Western art music. Through looking at specific research it is possible to generalize about differences in the terms professional and amateur, terms that are commonly used by groups of people, including professionals and amateurs, yet terms that are difficult to define specifically. However, the complexity of the distinction between professional and amateur musicians is further highlighted when relating the findings to Western art music in Truro, the subject of my thesis.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2022 19:28
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2022 19:28
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14711
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)