Summer Research Round Up

Over the summer vacation, staff from the music department have been busy working on their many research projects, spending time writing (both words and music), presenting at conferences, and exchanging ideas with other international researchers. Some highlights of our summer activities are presented below.

Nikki Dibben completed music analysis for Björk’s forthcoming interactive app suite and music album ‘Biophilia’, taught on the Biophilia Music School at the Manchester International Festival, and appeared as part of the creative team for the press conference. Other work for Björk continues... Nikki also wrote up an academic paper on expression of emotion in music and speech prosody, and a book chapter on spatialisation in pop recordings is nearing completion.

Simon Keefe is currently finishing up the final draft of a monograph on Mozart’s Requiem. It will be published by Cambridge University Press in late 2012/early 2013.

In July Simon Keegan-Phipps travelled to Newfoundland, Canada, to take part in the 41st World Conference of the International Council for Traditional Music. The paper was entitled ‘Performing Englishness: The Rise of the English Folk Arts’ and drew on research for his forthcoming book (co-authored with Dr Trish Winter, University of Sunderland) entitled ‘Performing Englishness: Identity and Politics in a Contemporary Folk Resurgence,’ which is due to be completed and published this year with Manchester University Press. Simon’s trip to Newfoundland was funded by an Overseas Conference Grant from the British Academy.

Dorothy Ker spent her summer making ‘Everything and Nothing’, a piece of mixed-media theatre exploring the mathematics of the Poincaré conjecture, as part of a project funded by the EPSRC Partnerships for Public Engagement scheme. Dorothy co-devised and directed the piece, including writing much of the text and composing and directing the music and sound, in collaboration with sculptor Dr Kate Allen from Reading University. ‘Everything and Nothing’ was performed at Green Man Festival in Wales, then received its theatre premiere at the British Science Festival in Bradford on 11th September. Early research for the project was informed by workshop sessions with Professor Marcus du Sautoy.

In August Dr Kelcey Swain joined the ‘Everything and Nothing’ project team as a sound collaborator to help create and perform the virtual character of a surreal Librarian inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel. The Music Department research staff have also been joined briefly by topologist Dr Katie Steckles, who has taken up the role of mathematical mentor for ‘Everything and Nothing’, presenting interactive workshops alongside the production as it tours the UK.

Andrew Killick started a year-long project entitled ‘Hwang Byungki: Traditional Music and the Contemporary Composer in the Republic of Korea’, funded by an Academy of Korean Studies Competitive Research Grant. This will lead to a book on Hwang Byungki, a Korean composer who writes for traditional Korean instruments, to be published in the Ashgate SOAS Musicology Series in 2013.

Adrian Moore began work on ‘Sonic Art: Recipes and Reasonings’, a handbook for practical composition with sound. He completed work on ‘Tapeworm’, a slowly evolving piece that grew out of work for ‘Wet Sounds’, which took place in a swimming pool in Glasgow back in February 2011. Works from 2006 to the present will be published on a new DVDA, ‘Contrechamps’ on the Empreintes DIGITALes label in October. Adrian’s work for violin and computer, ‘Fields of Darkness and Light’, will receive a London premiere in October and will then be toured in Mexico. Over the coming months he will be preparing for an Easter 2012 residence at the Visby International Centre for Composers, Sweden.

George Nicholson completed ‘Harmonica’ for clarinet ensemble and resumed work on his piece for Trio d’Art - ‘Madrigals in memoriam Henri Pousseur’. He spent a week in July at the Aujols ‘Les heures musicales’ festival in southern France, where he coached some of the local young musicians and prepared them for an impromptu performance. In August he took part in two performances of Paul Keenan’s ‘Cloudscapes’ with Ballet Bewegung at the Dance Base, Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival.

Stephanie Pitts made a research trip to Madrid and Granada, funded by a Santander Research Mobility Award, to visit Spanish researchers working in music education and concert audience development. She also completed the final manuscript of her forthcoming book, ‘Chances and Choices: Exploring the Impact of Music Education’, which will be published by Oxford University Press later this year.

Renee Timmers attended the first conference of the Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP) at the University of Cambridge in July and presented the paper ‘Creative strategies in the exploration of ornament performance with and without visual feedback on performance timing’. She co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies with Matthew Woolhouse on the theme ‘Nature versus Culture’ released in July. With co-editors Dorottya Fabian and Emery Schubert, she has started to work on an edited volume on performance expression. With collaborator Lawrence Parsons, she conducted a pilot fMRI study comparing brain activation when singing and listening to songs.

Xuefeng Zhou, associate researcher in the department, attended the Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP) conference at the University of Cambridge in July.

The department also hosted successful residential courses for around forty distance learning students in world music and music psychology, and we now look forward to welcoming our new and returning students to Sheffield later in September.