Our finished projects include
Assessing Collective Performance: Joint Research Project
Staff from ICMuS:
Richard Wistreich (RNCM; ICMuS to 2010)
with Jane Ginsborg, Research Fellow at the Research Centre for the Vocational Training of Musicians at our ‘sister’ CETL in Music, the Royal Northern College of Music.
This two-year project, which was supported by the CETL for Music and Inclusivity, tracked the progress of a variety of student ensembles in different genres (folk ensembles, pop bands, string and wind quartets and quintets) and at different stages of their degree programmes.
The research was funded by Palatine (the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Dance, Drama and Music), who awarded the project a grant of c. £10,000 in July 2007. Tutors and students from each institution met and shared experiences, as well as taking part in joint assessment exercises. The project evaluated how student ensembles are best formed (student self-selection? at random? by audition?); how tutors support student ensembles as they develop; and also those ensembles are assessed.
The project’s final report (‘Promoting excellence: the teaching, learning and assessment of small group performance’) can be downloaded from the HEA/Palatine website, here. The research was further disseminated in presentations at the Second International Reflective Conservatoire Conference at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 2009; and at the International Council for Traditional Music, Ireland, Annual Conference, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, 2010. Richard Wistreich also authored a further paper about Performance at ICMuS for the Higher Education Academy, called ‘Teaching and Assessing collective Performance in a University Music Department’ which was included in a training resource for the HEA called ‘Starting out in dance, drama and music: workshops for new and early career lectureships’ – download from here.
Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Staff from ICMuS:
- Paul Attinello (editor)
- with Janet Halfyard (Birmingham Conservatoire) and the late Vanessa Knights (School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University)
This project led to an edited collection of essays published by Ashgate in 2010, entitled Sounds of the Slayer: Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The collection interprets roles and functions of music and sound in this popular TV show through analyses of production, themes, scoring and source music, the critically acclaimed ‘musical’ episode, the special use of silence, and reception of music by fans.
A variety of critical approaches are taken from musicology, music theory, cultural studies, and media studies. Authors include noted Buffy scholars Rhonda Wilcox and Catherine Driscoll, with forewords and afterwords by Anahid Kassabian, Keith Negus, and Christophe Beck. For more details click here.
Staff from ICMuS:
- Eric Cross (principal investigator)
The therapeutic and healing use of the creative arts (e.g. music, poetry, dance and painting) has a long history and recent studies have explored the benefits of older groups of people engaging in creative arts, reporting improved physical health and social interaction. However, while many studies discuss the outcomes of the creative activity (e.g., increased confidence), the process of engagement itself is often not examined. To develop a robust creative arts intervention, we need to understand more clearly what the creative activity means for participants – both the effects on their lives/well-being and the process of engagement.
Ageing Creatively is a pilot study, funded by the Medical Research Council, which aims to identify how participating in creative arts for older people may lead to outcomes with positive effects on their health and sense of wellbeing (where ‘wellbeing’ is defined by participants); to explain and test our choice of methods through creative art workshops (music, literature and the visual arts); and to design a major follow-on study that builds on lessons learnt in the pilot.
Among these events, ‘Exploring Music’, a 10 week-workshop, conducted a pilot study with a client group whose musical explorations were documented on a CD with accompanying commentary. To read more, click here.
CyberZink is a research project led by Dr Jamie Savan at Newcastle University, exploring the potential of CAD modelling and 3D printing for organological research. The project began in July 2012 with the successful modelling and printing of three historical cornett mouthpieces (from museum collections in Munich, Paris and Vienna), based on measurements and 2D drawings by Graham Nicholson in Edward Tarr’s ‘Ein Katalog erhaltener Zinken’, Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis 5 (1981). These mouthpieces are very different from one another in design and radically different from the kinds of mouthpieces used by the majority of professional cornett players at the present time. The difference extends to timbre and pitch, with a variation of +/- 18 Hz between these three mouthpieces alone.
This preliminary work suggested that 3D printing might provide a valuable means of gathering empirical data about historical mouthpieces - and indeed historical instruments - when it would otherwise be impractical or else impossible (e.g. for conservation reasons) to play the originals.
To test the possibilities of the technology further, Savan designed a complete cornett in January 2013, based on Julian Drake’s measurements for the Christ Church cornetts, published in the Galpin Society Journal 34 (1981), but with the curved bore straightened so that the instrument could be printed in three jointed sections, in the manner of certain originals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The 3D CAD files for this project (as for the mouthpieces) were developed by Dr Guy Schofield at Newcastle’s Culture Lab digital research facility, and the prototype instrument finally printed in SLS nylon in July 2013.
This prototype model plays rather higher than A=440 (actually closer to A=454), and raises some very interesting questions about the tuning and fingering system of the original Christ Church instrument, which is one of the subjects of Savan’s current research.
It was also clear that with some simple adjustments to the CAD models (facilitated by the three-piece design), a very useful instrument could be developed at A=440, which will provide an insight into the fingering system and tuning issues of the original instrument for experienced players, and (with some further remodelling) an excellent entry-level instrument for beginners. These instruments will be available to order via the University web store from January 2014.
What next for CyberZink?
There are endless possibilities for this technology. But here are three of the current research aims of the project:
To make CAD models of all surviving historical cornett mouthpieces, and to make these available for research and pedagogical purposes.
To develop a simple user interface for the CAD software that will take CyberZink as a template, to be adapted according to specific numerical data regarding bore and fingerhole dimensions and positioning. By this means it should be possible to replicate the bore of any historical cornett, thereby allowing us to learn about pitch, temperament and other playing characteristics of historical instruments which might otherwise be inaccessible for hands-on, practice-based research.
To investigate the potential of this technology for other areas of research in applied organology. Some of the most obvious - and exciting - possibilities include (virtual) reconstruction of instruments (not just cornetts) which are damaged or survive only in part.
Landscape Quartet is an AHRC-funded project in which an international team of four sound artists – Matthew Sansom, Stefan Östersjö, Sabine Vogel and [http://www.bennetthogg.co.uk/](Bennett Hogg) – have worked on an eighteen-month series of projects with two principal aims:
- to investigate the creative possibilities afforded by working in direct dialogue with the natural environment;
- to consider the philosophical implications arising from this, reflecting on these from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including cognitive science, phenomenology, environmental science, aesthetics, and local history.
Practically, the project produces and documents site-specific performances, which in turn will create material for fixed-media audiovisual artworks for exhibition and concert performance. Throughout the project expert “respondents” – Peter Nelson, James Wyness, Sally Jane Norman, Katharine Norman, Max Eastley, and Dallas Simpson - have taken part in critical symposia, presenting their own work, and engaging in discussion with the members of the quartet. In addition to projects in the UK, Landscape Quartet projects have happened in and around Hanoi, Vietnam, and they have also received generous financial support from the Swedish contemporary music funding association RANK, in order to carry out three residencies and events in southern Sweden. For more information click here.
Respondents (to date):
Music and Machines
Music and Machines is a series of research events run by Bennett Hogg (ICMuS) and Sally Jane Norman (Sussex University, formerly director of Newcastle University Culture Lab). Sustained from 2005 to the present, this project has focused on establishing dialogues between technology, creative practice, and cultural theory. As well as several one-day symposia with invited speakers, national and international artists-in-residence, and participants from across the Faculties both in Newcastle University and the other regional universities, Music and Machines has also included three national/international level conferences. It has demonstrated excellent support for research students and staff at Newcastle, fostered national and international networks and collaborations, has contributed significantly to engagement through presenting numerous public performance events, and reinforces Newcastle University’s commitment to interdisciplinary and innovative research in the arts and humanities. Among the project’s outputs is a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Music Review (2013) on the theme ‘Resistant Materials in Musical Creativity’. Hogg and Norman were co-editors of and contributors to this special issue, which also featured several other current or former members of ICMuS (Clarke, Ferguson, Vandermast-Bell, Williams).
Noise, Audition, Aurality: Histories of the Sonic World(s) of Europe, 1500–1945
This project involves lead researchers Ian Biddle and Kirsten Gibson in the compilation of an edited volume comprising 12 historiographically and historically grounded essays, an introduction by the editors, and an afterword by Bruce R. Smith. The essays explore ways of thinking sound historically, and seek to understand how people have understood and negotiated their relationships with the sounding world in Europe from the Middle Ages through to the early twentieth century.
The volume will bring together the work of an international group of scholars, among them talented newcomers and leading scholars at the forefront of sound studies (Balaÿ, Erlmann, and Bruce R. Smith). Their work collectively engages sound studies from a broad spectrum of methodological and disciplinary approaches including what Patricia Clough has termed the ‘affective turn’, anthropology, architectural history, ethnomusicology, cultural theory, gender studies, historiography, the history of medicine, science and technology, literary studies, musicology, postcolonial theory and sociology. It thus represents a unique contribution to sound studies precisely for its attempt to negotiate a new conceptual space between recent affective scholarships, ‘presentist’ sound studies scholarship, cultural history and historicism.
The researchers also consider aurality in the broadest sense, dealing with the relationships and intersections between listening, soundscapes, music and noise. Through a series of historically-specific case studies, they raise new historiographical questions about the nature of (now silent) auditory cultures of the past and ask in particular how we, as historians, might approach and learn from those cultures.
The volume will be divided into three sections (each ordered chronologically):
- Historicising Aurality
- Sound Politics
- The Noise of Warfare
It is anticipated that the volume will be published by Ashgate in 2014.
Understanding Scotland Musically
As Principal Investigator of Understanding Scotland Musically, Dr Simon McKerrell aims to develop new understandings of how contemporary traditional music is used in the construction of Scottish identity both in performance and through the media. The project is funded by the AHRC’s Early Career Fellowship Scheme.
Devolution in the UK and the rapid expansion of the New Europe have led to the increased importance of regional and national identities within the context of globalisation of musical communities. What was once considered kitsch tartanry has been re-mythologised, and now hybrid sounds from Scottish musicians portray a newer, emergent sense of national identity.
Increasingly, musicians are performing deterritorialized and commodified music that shifts attention away from musical provenance and authentic ideology towards more transient sonic identities, and blurs established musical genres. Such changes have powerfully altered Scottish music and identity. This research will investigate how Scottishness is performed in – and as – traditional music at this crucial moment in the public life of an increasingly (dis)United Kingdom.
Understanding Scotland Musically therefore aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the musical politics of identity, and to influence policy makers and stakeholders in challenging older mythologies and representing newly defined regions and minorities in the UK as a whole.
The key research questions are:
- How is contemporary traditional music used in the construction of identities in contemporary Scotland?
- How are these identities constructed as discourse around music, and music-as-discourse?
- What are the implications of changing Scottish musical identities for national and regional music policies within a changing political context?
The project runs throughout 2014. If you would like to contribute your point of view on Scottish traditional music or Scottishness, and the discourses that construct those ideas, please email email@example.com. You can also follow the progress of the project by clicking here.
Unrecorded Music from the Eton Choirbook
In conjunction with ICMuS Sounds, and with support from the CETL in Music and Inclusivity, we recorded ten pieces from the Eton Choirbook (GB-WRec 178) in 2009. Nearly all of these pieces had not previously been recorded before or issued commercially (one of the pieces covered in this project, E22, has since been recorded by the Huelgas Ensemble). The recordings are published as freely downloadable MP3 files.
For further information about the project click here. Additionally, details of the facsimile edition of the Eton Choirbook prepared by Magnus Williamson, can be found at the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), by clicking here.
ICMuS Transitions: A Longitudinal Study of Music Undergraduates
This project was carried out over the period 2005–2009 by Felicity Laurence and Dawn Weatherston (ICMuS), and sought to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a music undergraduate. The project involved a longitudinal study following undergraduates through their three/four year programme in ICMuS.
Interviews were carried out with a focus group of six students over the entire period, with one-hour recorded interviews at the beginning, middle and end of each year, subsequently explored using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. The project was designed overall to:
- be ‘naturalistic’
- focus on formal and well as formal learning
- capture the complexity and authenticity of case studies
- employ semi-structured interview schedules
- sample purposefully in order to gain an impression of a spectrum of experience
- acknowledge that the rapport between interviewer and interviewee is of paramount importance
Themes arising from the interviews were followed up in large scale questionnaires over the entire student population in ICMuS. Findings indicated that aspects of transition theory can help explain student trajectories over the period of study. One aspect that emerged was the tendency in the first year for students to experience a strong ‘dip’ in terms of wellbeing and confidence at around the halfway point, in January. This has implications for the practice of setting examinations at that time. Overall, there was a strong narrative of the central and crucial importance to students of both peer and tutor support at meaningful levels and at all stages.
The project was funded by Newcastle University’s internal Innovations Fund, and its findings are summarised in Dawn Weatherston and Felicity Laurence, ‘Changing Lives: perspectives from a study of six music undergraduates in their first year’, in Pieterick, J; Ralph, R; Lawton, M (eds.), EFYE Conference Proceedings 2008, University of Wolverhampton 2008, 205–11.
Masculinity and Western Musical Practice
Staff from ICMuS:
- Ian Biddle (editor)
- Kirsten Gibson (editor)
- with Elizabeth Eva Leach (University of Oxford), Howard Irving (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Fred Everett Maus (University of Virginia), Marcia Citron (Rice University), Corissa Gould, Claire Taylor-Jay (Roehampton University), Iain Stannard, Richard Wistreich (Royal Northern College of Music), Annamaria Cecconi (Conservatorio Statale di Musica ‘A.Vivaldi’, Alessandria, Italy), Esther Zaplana (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
This project led to a volume of edited chapters, published by Ashgate, addressing the relationship between masculinity and art music or musical practice. Each of the twelve chapters deals with a specific case study, drawing from a wide range of musics and periods (from medieval music to the mid-twentieth century).
While these case studies are methodologically disparate and located in different historical and geographical locations, they all share a common concern for critical revaluation of the role of masculinity, in all its varied representations, in art music practices. The volume thus represents a timely contribution to the development of masculinity studies within musicology (and beyond). The volume is organised thematically around three core areas: effeminate/virile musics and masculinities; national masculinities and national musics; and masculine voice, discourse and identity.
The volume is now out. Click here to access publication details on Ashgate's website.
Newcastle New Music: CD of New Music by ICMuS Composers
with Tim Garland (RNCM, formerly ICMuS) and ICMuS PhD graduates Sergio Camacho, Joel Eriksson and Matthew Rowan
Newcastle New Music was the third commercially produced CD to come out of ICMuS (following two albums of Indian Music by Vijay Rajput and Shahbaz Hussain). Newcastle New Music contains works written by current or former members of ICMuS of staff and three the Deparmtent’s doctoral graduates. The performers are Mr McFall’s Chamber, Scotland’s ground-breaking group of virtuosi chamber musicians.
Kathryn Tickell, iconic figure of Northumbrian music and a lecturer on the Folk and Traditional Music degree, provides the opening track Lordenshaws, a work she wrote to a commission from Royal Northern Sinfonia and was first performed by members of this orchestra in Newcastle in 2000. Tickell herself plays the Northumbrian pipes, and Peter Tickell is guest violinist.
Tim Garland, a world leader in jazz performance and composition, is represented by his In Translation, which was co-commissioned by Mr McFall’s Chamber and was premièred by this ensemble in Edinburgh in 2007. The piece is for bass clarinet and piano quintet, featuring the composer on the bass clarinet.
The third track is Botanic Spider by Agustín Fernández, Professor of Composition at ICMuS. This virtuoso work was first composed for the Belfast-based ensemble Sequenza in 1992, but was extensively revised in 2003 for a performance by members of Northern Sinfonia.
Matthew Rowan's String Quartet No 1 challenges the ensemble with a rigorously executed exploration of the tensions between repetition and variation. Sergio Camacho devoted his years of research at ICMuS to developing an extensive music-theatre project for which he has also devised the libretto. His work Four Names for the One Moon constitutes one of the many stages of the research that feed into the magnum opus that will be his eventual submission. Joel Eriksson, now a lecturer at Gothenburg University, contributes to the album his Fantasi, a finely-crafted meditation on a Bach chorale.
The Phonographic Industry in Portugal in the 20th century
Staff from ICMuS:
with Richard Elliott (University of Sussex) and staff from INET (Instituto de Etnomusicologia, Universidade Nove de Lisboa)
Funded by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, this project carried out a systematic study on the history of the recording industry in twentieth-century Portugal, and its impact on the production and dissemination of music, and on the music product itself.
Research was carried out from multidisciplinary perspectives, combining theoretical and methodological approaches from ethnomusicology, popular music studies, history, cultural studies, anthropology, and historical musicology. Taking into account cultural, economic and political developments in contemporary Portugal as well as the history of the international recording industry, this project analysed:
the trajectory of the major record companies;
the phonogram as a product and the equipment associated with its (re)production within the framework of the electrification of the country and the market for electrical equipment;
the demand for phonograms within the framework of the consumption of cultural goods and the increase in the buying power of the population;
the technologies used and their impact on compositional processes, performance practice, music sound and audience behaviour; the articulation between the recording industry, live performance, sheet music, and other mass media, especially radio, cinema, and television;
the legal framework within which recordings were produced and commercialised;
the impact of the recording industry on musical domains such as popular music, fado, pop-rock, folklore, and art music; the role of sound recordings in the dissemination of new musical domains in Portugal such as jazz and pop-rock;
the articulation in record production between Portugal and its former colonies;
the impact of sound recordings produced in Portugal on selected Portuguese emigrant communities and the ways in which these communities condition segments of music production;
the role of sound recordings among selected immigrant communities; the role of publicity and graphic design in promoting recordings
Key outputs include:
Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco (general editor), Enciclopédia da Música em Portugal no Século XX (Lisbon: Círculo de Leitores, 2010);
Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco & Jorge de Freitas Branco (eds.), Vozes do povo. A Folclorização em Portugal (Oeiras: Celta Editora, 2003);
Pedro Félix, Preservar o Património. Registos de Som (Lisbon: INATEL, 2000).
The Resistant Violin
- Bennett Hogg
The idea for The Resistant Violin came while talking to Daniel Schorno at STEIM, Amsterdam. He mentioned how cellist Frances-Marie Uitti had difficulties playing with heavy motion sensors on her bow. Rather than lightening the sensors, I imagined developing a way of playing my violin that would ‘use’ this extra weight. From this, I imagined this weight interfering with my ‘normal’ playing, pushing me into a different kind of playing. In commercial culture, digital technologies are often advertised as making music ‘easier’, but I enjoy the implicit critique of the banality and universalism of this position by deploying digital technologies to make ‘musical expression’ more difficult.
The bow and violin are connected together at several points with very strong elastic with motion sensors at either end that generate MIDI data. This not only makes it physically difficult to ‘express’ oneself on the violin, but the data generated by the various sensors inputs to software that disrupts whatever sounds are generated. The instrument and the digital technology thus conspire to subvert expressivity, resulting in a performance that moves between aggressive struggle, and shuddering paralysis.
The Resistant Violin connected with the practical side of my ongoing academic research into the relations of humans and technology and is being developed in collaboration with the institute STEIM, Amsterdam. The project was a starting point for subsequent theoretical and practical research in free improvisation and live electroacoustics (see, for example, the projects Landscape Quartet, Music and Machines and the themed issue of Contemporary Music Review on ‘Resistant Materials in Musical Creativity’ which arose from the latter).