Spring 2016 Music Research Seminar Series Poster

21 January

This presentation was cancelled by the guest speaker.


Professor Marek Korczynski (University of Nottingham)

Marek Korczynski

Rhythms of Labour: Singing at Work in Britain and Its Silencing
The presentation will first assess the degree to which pre-industrial occupations had singing cultures at work.  The historical record shows that many of the most populous occupations did have singing cultures.  With this established, I go on to consider the social meaning of these singing cultures in terms of a) fancy and function; b) community; and c) voice.  The presentation will end by considering the factors that led to the silencing of these singing at work cultures.
The presentation draws on the book, Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain (Cambridge University Press) co-authored with Mike Pickering and Emma Robertson, and the linked CD release, also entitled Rhythms of Labour.

04 February

Dr Klaas Coulembier 

Entering the Woods: anlytical approaches to Brian Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Study II


Brian Ferneyhough’s musical scores are famous for their often impenetrable appearance. His specific approach to music notation not only challenges the audacious performer, who has to come up with solutions for the dazzling amount of instructions in the score, but also the music analyst, who is confronted with an overload of information. The score of Time and Motion Study II could be compared with a dense forest to which no easy access is guaranteed. When attempting an analysis of such a score, where can one begin? I will illustrate two different strategies that I have adopted in the analysis of this piece. The first approach is a rather general approach to one specific aspect of the composition. The pages of the score are filled with verbal indications, ranging from the more or less neutral “Adagio” to more poetic expressions as “in cabaret spotlight”. What can these expressions tell us about the piece as a whole? The second approach follows a more traditional analytical route and is based on a close examination of the original sketches. Although these sources are rather fragmented, I was able to discover at least some clues as to how Ferneyhough constructed the dense woods of Time and Motion Study II. In the end, a comprehensive analysis of a composition of this scale and complexity is not possible, nor desirable. However, specific analytical approaches may contribute to our understanding of this repertoire, and hopefully inspire other analysts in their engagement with contemporary music.


Klaas Coulembier currently works at the University of Leuven as a post-doctoral research fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders. The title of his dissertation, which he defended in 2013, was “Multi-temporality. Analysing simultaneous time layers in selected compositions by Elliott Carter and Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf”. He wrote a chapter in Die Musik von Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, has published in Tempo, Music Theory and Analysis, and the Revue Belge de Musicologie, and has an article forthcoming in the journal Music Analysis. His current research is focused on developing analytical strategies for the music of Ferneyhough, Aperghis and Carter. Beside his academic activities, he regularly writes programme notes and gives pre-concert talks at all major venues in Flanders.

18 February

Anne Martin (PhD in Musicology; University of Aberdeen)

The emergence of an idiomatic instrumental style in the consort music of William Byrd

The aim of the research is to examine the progression in Byrd’s instrumental consort music from a vocal style that could be played or sung to the emergence of a truly idiomatic instrumental style. I have been looking at the context in which Byrd’s consort music was composed and identifying factors that would appear to distinguish sixteenth century English consort music from vocal music such as note ranges and use of clefs. I am also exploring the musical forms used by Byrd and his contemporaries in their consort music to find a way of composing purely instrumental consort music. 

03 March

Sarah Rimkus (University of Aberdeen)

Sarah Rimkus

Title: MacLeod Road: Exploring the influence of Scottish folk music on American concert music


As a nation of immigrants, musical traditions in the United States feature a wide range musical influences from all over the world, utilized in all imaginable ways. In many areas of the country, Appalachia in particular, large groups of Scottish immigrants defined the culture of the regions, musically in particular, and composers from Aaron Copland to Julia Wolfe display these influences to great effect in their concert works, even in works as recently composed as 2015. With this presentation I aim to provide an overview of the ways in which Scottish musical traditions have seeped into the music of American concert music composers, and as a case study in point I will present my recent chamber work, “MacLeod Road,” and discuss my use of Scottish vernacular-inspired musical material combined with modern compositional techniques.

17 March

Richard McGregor (Emeritus Professor of Music at University of Cumbria)

Richard McGregor

Exploring Engagement and Detachment in James MacMillan's Seven Last Words


The emotional detachment that is required for liturgy has maintained itself as the most important thing throughout, but there are moments when that objectivity breaks down and subjectivity... takes over.

During his interview with Mandy Hallam in 2007, MacMillan seems to suggest that because it uses the liturgy Seven Last Words is essentially an objective setting of the various texts. Aside from the philosophical difficulty inherent in the very notion of subjectivity and objectivity this is a strange distinction for a composer to make, and especially one so steeped in the rituals and observances of the Catholic church.

It is however entirely consistent within MacMillan's composition aesthetic to view composition as an expression of dualities. Many of his ideas are shaped by theological and musical perspectives framed in terms of balancing dualities: thus, theologically, God and Man(kind), Heaven and Earth, Body and Soul translate, musically, into consonance and dissonance, complexity and simplicity, tension and resolution and so on. It is the way these ideas interact in his music that produces MacMillan's particular sound world.

The idea that there are only perhaps just 'two moments' of subjectivity in Seven Last Words seems therefore rather unlikely in work which essentially explores the core belief of Christian faith and the human response to it.

This lecture will first explore some of the difficulties inherent in dividing the subjective and the objective into independent positions, and then, using analysis and interpretation, will show how MacMillan's musical response to the liturgical text in Seven Last Words almost always exhibits a balancing tension of both these and other dualities.

31 March

Luca Nasciuti (PhD Student in Composition; University of Aberdeen)

Luca Nasciuti

Fluctuating between sound objects and soundscapes: composing with spaces on the edge of noise

The seminar will focus on recent compositions by Luca Nasciuti, second year PhD student.
Luca will discuss the importance of visual documentation in producing his music. He will introduce his approach to the aesthetics of noise in electronic music production and the implication of using the soundscape as a sound-object in composition.