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Research events

Research Forum and Postgraduate Seminar

The Research Forum is where the Department meets each week to discuss the latest research. Organised entirely by postgraduate students, the format varies from week to week: events include seminars given by distinguished visitors or by our own staff, or thematic symposia featuring several shorter contributions and open discussion.

The Postgraduate Seminar is a weekly session in which our postgraduate students present their research to their peers and staff.

Research Forum Programme

Michaelmas Term

15 October 2013 2pm Research Forum Professor Tuomas Eerola Timbre as the fabric of emotions in music
22 October 2013 2pm Research Forum Dr Philip Cooke (Aberdeen) Re-encountering the Pastoral: Some thoughts on my recent music
29 October 2013 2pm Research Forum Dr Hector Sequera Reassessing a Genre: Italian Song from the Oral Tradition to the Frottola (c. 1480-1512)
5 November 2013 2pm Research Forum Dr Nick Collins Music for Piano and Artificial Intelligence: A lecture-recital featuring musical machine listening and learning
19 November 2013 2pm Research Forum Dr Daniel Grimley (Merton College, Oxford) title to be confirmed
26 November 2013 2pm Research Forum Professor Julian Horton

Two-dimensional Sonata Form in the Late Nineteenth-century Piano Concerto

Epiphany Term 2014

4 February 2014 2pm Research Forum

Dr Michael Fend (Kings College London)

'The trauma of the French Revolution for its composers'

Viennese music of the ‘classical period’ around 1800 has appropriated our cultural memory, while contemporary Parisian composers have been totally forgotten, despite the fact that at the time French society was politically and culturally far more advanced. Moreover, as French society was overtaken the revolution, Parisian composers found it impossible to continue their careers. In my paper I want to establish whether a psycho-history could provide an explanation for the problem of artistic creativity in a revolutionary period.

11 February 2014 2pm Research Forum Dr Byron Dueck (Open University)

Powwow, disciplinary institutions and the indigenous metropolis: aboriginal music in schooling and child welfare provision in western Canada


The western Canadian city of Winnipeg is home to one of the largest concentrations of urban aboriginal people in North America. Schools and child welfare organizations in the city have responded by incorporating powwow, a popular neotraditional indigenous dance practice, in offerings to students and clients. These initiatives are complex examples of indigenous postcoloniality, in which state disciplinary institutions incorporate reflexively traditional aboriginal practices. Drawing upon interviews conducted with informants who work in education and social services, this presentation investigates some of the tensions that accompany the use of traditional music in public education and child welfare (tensions that are important in part because traditional music and dance have significant sacred aspects). The presentation asks whether traditional music is being instrumentalized as ‘expedient culture’ (Yudice 2003) in the service of disciplinary institutions. More broadly, it explores relationships between sound, the sacred, institutions, and the multicultural state. 

18 February 2014 2pm Research Forum Dr Laudan Nooshin (City University)

Cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

25 February 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor David Clarke (Newcastle University)

 'Music and Consciousness - High and Low (Singing along with Tippett, Peggy Lee and Heidegger)'


If it is the case that study of human consciousness has in recent decades achieved the status of an academic discipline, what might the study of music have to offer it? Or, to put it another way: if to be conscious is to know being, and if music also taps into distinctive ways of knowing our being, could there be useful traffic between these territories?

This at least is one register in which the issue can be broached – the grand philosophical narratives of ontology and phenomenology (in which figures such as Heidegger are salient). On the other hand, there’s also the thought that for human beings, being is social; and that music might also invoke – and help us re-imagine – a consciousness of the everyday.

What if one is interested in both of these registers? In this talk I explore such polarities and the possible ironies that emerge from them. Some of my examples come from British twentieth-century composer Michael Tippett, for whom, in true Romantic fashion, the transcendental and the ironic often went hand in hand. Like him, I’ll consider whether music (and sound) might afford an opening on to an other consciousness. But, in a spirit akin to his own, I’ll also consider the question, along with singer Peggy Lee, ‘Is that all there is?’

4 March 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Christopher Fox (Brunel) Making new spaces for music: some thoughts on harmony, theatre and notation
11 March 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Lydia Goehr (Columbia University) All the arts aspire to the condition of music, except the art of music

Easter Term 2014

Tuesday 29 April 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Simon Emmerson (De Montfort University)

'Living Electronic Music'


In electroacoustic music what can technology express? how is this different from purely acoustic music? Simon Emmerson will illustrate this talk with examples of his own work over the last 40 years, discussing how the technology has served essentially poetic purposes. But there are problems, too - technology gets out of date quickly. How can we preserve earlier generations of such music? There is no standard way to write down and define the technical processes. Composers have some responsibility to ensure the future for their music. How can they do this?

Tuesday 6 May 2014 2pm Research Forum Dr Laudan Nooshin (City University)

 Community of Catharsis. Music, Trauma and Social Media: The case of the 2009 Iranian Presidential Elections


On 12th June 2009, Iran held its tenth presidential elections since the 1979 Revolution. The two main contenders were conservative incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Mir Hossein Mousavi - former Prime Minister and close associate of reformist Mohammad Khatami. For those who supported Mousavi, it was hoped that - as well as addressing Iran’s many pressing internal issues - his election would put the country on a path of constructive dialogue with Europe and the US.

This paper explores the extraordinary musical responses in the aftermath of the elections, almost entirely mediated through the internet, focusing on the role of the internet in providing a space for the collective outpouring of emotion - anger, frustration, fear, grief – for which no physical public space was sanctioned; and enabling a remarkable speed of response to events on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere. Just as Lohman describes Umm Kulthum’s concert campaign and radio presence in Egypt after the 1967 war with Israel as ‘an empowering mechanism for Egyptians to respond to the psychological impact of the defeat (and) … a cathartic outlet for public expression’ (2009), so in Iran, music - this time mediated through the internet - helped Iraniansto come to terms with the psychological trauma triggered by the political events. I consider the combined mediative power of music and the internet to bring - and bind - people together, in ways that are too slippery for the kinds of centralised state control which have dominated Iran’s public sphere for decades.

Tuesday 13 May 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Richard Widdess (SOAS)

'Cognitive research in South Asian music: incidental learning and recursion'


I will discuss two on-going research projects (in collaboration with Martin Rohrmeier (MIT)) on different aspects of musical cognition, in which we take Indian music as a case study. The first is an empirical investigation of the process of learning to recognise a rāga, asking how far the differences of melodic grammar between two rāgas having the same scale might be unconsciously acquired by listeners not familiar with Indian music. I will discuss the concepts of implicit and incidental learning and suggest that these are important processes involved in learning and listening to Indian, or by extension any music. Secondly I will consider the concept of recursion, a feature of human cognition that has been recognised in most languages, Western tonal music, and other domains, and which might support the hypothesis that language and music share cognitive resources. I will argue that recursive structures are typical of South Asian culture, and include musical instances, with reference to classical ālāp and Newar ritual music in Nepal.

Tuesday 20 May 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Eric Clarke (Oxford University)

'Lost and found in music: music, consciousness and subjectivity'

Please note this lecture will take place in the Institute of Advanced Studies, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green


‘Strong experiences of music’ – to use Alf Gabrielsson’s term – commonly, but apparently paradoxically, seem to involve people in both losing themselves and finding themselves in music. How can this be? Who or what is lost, and equally who or what is found, and how can they both happen together? In this talk I offer an approach to these questions, framed within the perspectives of musical consciousness and musical subjectivity, that attempts to bring together perceptual and embodied components of musical experience, embedded in the ecology of everyday listening. In doing so, I also argue for the importance of paying proper attention to phenomenological qualities of listeners’ experiences, for a dynamic and animated understanding of musical engagement, and for the role of an extended notion of empathy.

Tuesday 10 June 2014 2pm Research Forum Dr Freida Abtan (Goldsmiths)

‘Audiovisual Motion: Animating Time and Space’


Freida Abtan’s artistic and research interests revolve around inter-sensory composition under computational process. She works with fixed and reactive audiovisual media for concert diffusion, installation, and large-scale multimedia production, as well as computer vision techniques and sensor-based technologies. Her work has been presented internationally in festivals such as the International Computer Music Festival (2009-2012), The Mutek Festival of Electronic Music and Digital Arts (2006, 2008, 2010), The Cap Sembrat Festival (2008), and The Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts (2008), and she has performed at venues such as WORM Rotterdam (2012)and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco (2009). 

In this talk, Freida will present an overview of her work and discuss how using both digital tools and programming techniques have shaped her aesthetics.


Tuesday 24 June 2014 2pm Research Forum Professor Rachel Cowgill (Cardiff University)

‘Doing the Right Thing for Fighting Men’: Music, Morale and the Military Body in London’s West End Nightclubs, 1915-19.


London's West-End nightclubs, or supper-and-dancing clubs, were a cause for concern within the British establishment around the end of the nineteenth century. As discreet members-only clubs, they operated within the same legal and customary frameworks that protected old-style gentlemen's clubs from police interference. Whereas clubs such as the Athenaeum were male only, however, nightclubs encouraged mixed dancing without chaperones, and their late opening hours encouraged the liberal consumption of alcohol in a quasi-private and thus relatively unregulated environment. Their presence in the West End deemed undesirable, nightclubs fell victim to numerous police raids and by the turn of the century had been suppressed almost to extinction.

Within a decade the capital's nightlife began to experience a renaissance, inspired by the introduction of a style of improvisatory syncopated dancing from America - ragtime - and new constructions of social intimacy between men and women outside of the marital home. By the outset of the Great War politicians were speaking of 'the nightclub evil'. Heightened by the rhetoric of London's first media-driven 'drug craze' (1915-16) and fears that a new, predatory breed of woman was stalking the capital's dance floors, anxieties were expressed about the impact of nightclubs on the moral and physical health of army officers and, by extension, on national security and efficiency - on the very 'war effort' itself.

This paper takes as its focus one of the most prominent players in London's night-time economy - Ciro's Club, which was located on Orange Street behind the National Gallery. Ciro's became a cause celebre - a lightening rod for contemporary debates about music and masculinity focused on the 'correct' music to which army officers should be listening. Under new military controls licensed by the Defence of the Realm Act, army officers discovered to be dancing in nightclubs were subjected to court martial; and as the war began to exert more and more pressure on the nation's food reserves, conscripted men were hastily trained up to take the places of the officer-elite lost in action, and temperance activists grew more powerful in Parliament under Lloyd George, Ciro's was placed under intense scrutiny and subjected to unprecedented interventions by the civil and military authorities. By the end of the war, as the paper will show, musical provision at Ciro's had been transformed beyond recognition, dictated by the ideas of social reformers and those who believed that the right kinds of music could - at least in part - effect the rehabilitation of trained and traumatised killers into a new generation of model civilians and leaders.

Biog: Rachel Cowgill is Professor of Music at Cardiff University. She has published widely in a number of areas including British music and musical cultures c1760-1940, opera studies, Mozart reception, and gender, sexuality and identity in music. Among her most recent projects is a co-edited collection of essays with Hilary Poriss, _The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century_, which was published by OUP in 2012. Building on several articles and chapters exploring music, memory and memorialisation during and after the Great War, she is currently working on a book-length study of music and the soldier in First World War Britain. This paper airs some findings from that project. 

Postgraduate Seminar Programme

Michaelmas Term

15 October 2013 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
22 October 2013 1pm Postgraduate Event Thomas Barker The Critical Politics of Antebellum Black Spirituals
29 October 2013 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
5 November 2013 1pm Postgraduate Event Joanna Heath Seasoned with Salt: The Role of Drums in Mizo Worship
12 November 2013 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
19 November 2013 1pm Postgraduate Event Nugunn Wattanapat Hubert Parry on the Historical Method Upon Music (1884)
26 November 2013 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
3 December 2013 1pm Postgraduate Event Presentation and plenary study group led by Professor Julian Horton Contextualising Musical Analysis
10 December 2013 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups


Epiphany Term 2014

Tuesday 21 January 2014 1pm Postgraduate Event Douglas Bachorik Imago Dei, Ang Pinakagusot, Evolutionary Apogee: Human Nature in the Nature of Music
Tuesday 28 January 2014 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
Tuesday 4 February 2014 1pm Postgraduate Event James Archer Adorno, Eisler, and the Lyric Challenge to 'Non-Identity'
Tuesday 11 February 2014 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
Tuesday 18 February 2014 1pm Postgraduate Event Shelly Knotts The Politics of Laptop Ensembles
Tuesday 25 February 2014 see below Postgraduate Event Study Groups
Tuesday 4 March 2014 1pm Postgraduate Event Joe Schultz Symphonic scandal: Towards an assessment of musical polarities within Khachaturian's Third Symphony
Tuesday 11 March 2014 to be confirmed Postgraduate Event 'Envisioning Modernity' study day
Tuesday 18 March 2014 1pm Postgraduate Event Chad Langford Developing a repertoire for the temporal canvas

Presentations take place in the Lecture Room at 1pm

Study group meetings take place as follows:
Musicology 11am-1pm, Concert Room - Themes include music and power, and musical modernism
Ethnomusicology 1-2pm, Lecture Room - Reading group
Composition 12pm-1pm
Music Theology 12-1pm, Linton Room, St John's College