Musicology

In musicology at Surrey we are principally interested in the relationships between music and its historical, cultural, and experiential contexts, within a repertoire extending from the eighteenth century to the present. We have particular interests in

  • Classicism, Romanticism, and Modernism in Western music
  • Popular music
  • British music
  • African-American music
  • Jazz
  • Screen music
  • Performance studies (national/cultural identity, historiography, materiality, sociology, and improvisation)
  • Musical theatre
  • Biography and reception history
  • Historiography and canonicity
  • Gender studies
  • Digital technology
  • Phenomenology

Our research engages with and develops methods in historical musicology, critical musicology, and music analysis. In many areas our research is interdisciplinary in approach, drawing upon, for example, aesthetics, hermeneutics, philosophy, literature, cultural theory and sociology.

The methods, aims and theoretical perspectives of staff working in musicology are as follows:

Dr Jeremy Barham’s approach is cross-disciplinary in nature, drawing on theories of intermedial modelling, and exploring music’s meaning and cultural signification through critical method (e.g. metaphor studies), paradigms (e.g. structural deformation) and particular combined-media historical/artistic forms (e.g. melodrama). His work also engages theories of narrative and temporality, especially in image-music relations, as well as aesthetic theory, the nature and structures of interdisciplinarity itself, and patterns of music historiography. He works primarily on Mahler and early Modernism, screen music, and jazz.

Dr Christopher Mark’s approach might be defined as pragmatic: analysis is employed as a tool to serve critical studies of stylistic evolution and expressive meaning, and provides the means to understand compositional strategies and decisions within individual works. This is the approach he has adopted for recent studies of the music of Britten and Roger Smalley, and for his current large-scale project on melancholy in twentieth-century English music.

Dr Milton Mermikides is a composer, guitarist, sound artist and producer whose practice is informed by his research into popular music, jazz and ‘world’ music. In particular he makes extensive use of digital technology to reveal expressive mechanisms within musical performance which escape standard notation and traditional analysis. These include micro-rhythmic, microtonal, timbral and improvisational features.

Dr Matthew Sansom’s work is phenomenological in orientation and explores the theory/practice relations of the musical meaning- aesthetic encounter. Centred around free improvisation and experimental music and art, it includes reflections on music pedagogy, identity, esotericism and ecology.

Dr Georgia Volioti’s research focuses on musical performance including the historical study of musical style and interpretation, recordings as documents of performance practice, cultural identity and performance, cultural memory and recorded music. Her work combines traditional musicological approaches (analysis, historiography and criticism of performance) with cross-disciplinary research tools (quantitative and qualitative methods). She is currently working on her monograph on the performance practice of Edvard Grieg’s piano music from historical recordings.

Dr Christopher Wiley’s interdisciplinary approach encompasses music history and historiography, music and literature, gender studies, and music and the moving image. His research in musical biography examines the role played by biographies in shaping reception history and perpetuating ideological canons, as well as exploring the relationships between the art and its originating artist in both classical and popular music. Other work focuses on the implications to screen music of the differences between film and television in terms of the narrative frameworks they offer. He has also undertaken research in education studies, using mixed quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic methods.

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