Posts Tagged ‘students’

SMA Granted Charity Status

We are delighted to announce that the UK’s Society for Music Analysis was granted the status of Charitable Incorporated Organisation by Charity Commission for England and Wales on 8 August 2016. This new unified legal body succeeds the earlier separate entities of the original Society for Music Analysis and the Music Analysis Editorial Board. The ‘Charitable Objects’ for the newly incorporated SMA are as follows: ‘The advancement of education in music theory and analysis for the public benefit, in particular, but not exclusively, by the dissemination of the latest scholarly research.’

The ‘First Trustees’ of the organisation are Julian Horton (President and Chair of Trustees), Michael Spitzer (ex officio, as Chair of the Music Analysis Editorial Board), David Bretherton, Christopher Dromey, Shay Loya and Kenneth Smith. In accordance with our new Constitution, elections will be held for all elected trusteeships at our first Annual General Meeting (time and place to be announced). The SMA’s Constitution and other documents relating to our governance will be posted on this website in due course. The editorial team of Music Analysis continue in their current roles.

This is an exciting time for the SMA. Our newly granted charitable status provides us with better financial and legal security, and also presents us with an opportunity to reassess our activities. Further announcements will be made on our website and via our membership email list in due course.

The Trustees, 13 September 2016

Society for Music Analysis (Charity Number: 1168650)

Posted on 13th September 2016 by David Bretherton in SMA No comments » Tags:

2015 SMA Election Results

No other candidates having come forward, I am pleased to announce that Julian Horton has been re-elected as President, and that Shay Loya has been re-elected as Information Officer.

The second of our two Student Representative positions remains unfilled, and we will hold a special election for this position in 2016. If you are interested in standing for this position, please feel free to contact SMA Vice-President Kenneth Smith ( for an informal discussion.

On behalf of the Society, please can I thank our retiring Student Representative Martin Curda for all his hard work over the past two years; we wish him well for the future.

Posted on 18th December 2015 by David Bretherton in SMA No comments » Tags:

Review: SMA Music Analysis Workshop

On the last Saturday in November, the first SMA Music Analysis Workshop took place at Cardiff University’s School of Music. Alongside the TAGS conference, the biannual Summer School (coming up this July) and the Writing Club workshops, the Music Analysis Workshop constitutes a new and important addition to the varied events through which the SMA supports its student members and fosters interest in music analysis.

The conception of this project was formed during a series of discussions among members of staff at Cardiff University (particularly Charles Wilson, David Beard and Keith Chapin) and myself, in consultation with Dr Nicholas Reyland (Keele University) and committee members of the SMA. What emerged from these talks was the format of an interactive workshop, in which the participants get not only a theoretical introduction into a particular methodological approach to analysing music but also a ‘hands-on’ experience of its practical application. In that way we intended to reach out to a broader audience: those whose primary research interest lie outside music analysis were offered a comprehensive introduction into the discipline, while more experienced candidates were given the opportunity to explore methods they were not particularly familiar with.

The first workshop was conducted by Dr Charles Wilson (Cardiff University), who focused on post-tonal music theory. He started his session with an introduction re-negotiating the position of music analysis in the aftermath of the wave of criticism from the New Musicology movement. Challenging the common objection that music analysis is divorced from the ‘actual’ experience of music, he illustrated through musical examples as diverse as Debussy, Webern and Berio the correlation between ‘perceptibles’ and ‘observables’; that is, between musical features or events which are perceived as significant in the process of listening (regardless of theoretical education or rational endeavour) and structurally significant features or events which can be observed analytically in the score. This was practically demonstrated in the interactive parts of the session, when participants were asked to make ‘intuitive’ comments on musical examples, which were subsequently linked to more rigorously analytical observations. The participants learned to identify different kinds of scales (pentatonic, diatonic, hexatonic, octatonic, etc.) using ‘clock diagrams’, to trace their alteration within a piece by Debussy, and to compare the contrasting uses of such modes in pieces by different composers. Particularly in his analysis of a song by Webern, tracing the symbolism of Stefan George’s poetry in Webern’s treatment of hexatonic modality, Dr Wilson gave convincing examples of sensitive application of analytical methods, demonstrating that music analysis is one of many mutually interconnected ways of engaging hermeneutically with music.

Dr Nicholas Reyland

These issues were also central to the second workshop, led by Dr Nicholas Reyland (Keele University) and focused on the functioning of music in audio-visual analysis of screen media. Dr Reyland drew attention to the ‘middle ground’ between sophisticated analytical reflection of music on the one hand and visceral response to musical stimuli on the other, in which music is perceived through familiar stylistic or topical conventions and, broadly speaking, enculturated knowledge. The participants had chance to ‘audio-view’ the newest Star Wars trailer and get closer understanding of the role music plays in it. Another interactive exercise involved ‘blind listening’ and ‘deaf viewing’ of a particular scene from Krzysztof Kieslowski’s trilogy Three Colors: Blue (music by Zbigniew Preisner). This technique of ‘masking’, in which the elimination of one element of perception draws attention to another, offered valuable insight into the ways in which music contributes to the production of meaning in multi-media contexts and generated lively discussion. It became apparent that approaches and techniques employed by audio-visual analysis have profound implications for analysing music on its own. Indeed, the argument was convincingly made that music is never quite ‘on its own’.

Although the above described sessions constituted the main body of the event, many exciting things happened in between and afterwards. Several participants made use of the opportunity, kindly offered by Wilson, Reyland and Beard, to discuss their research during thirty-minute individual meetings. Breaks for coffee and lunch (generously provided by the SMA) offered an opportunity to get to know colleagues from across the country. The event was formally concluded by a discussion session, attempting to wrap up the numerous topics and ideas let loose during the day. Particularly prominent was the question of the boundaries of music analysis, which were revealed to be far from solid, allowing significant and stimulating overlaps with other sub-disciplines and methodologies of music studies. This vibrant debate continued among many of the participants over a pint in a nearby pub.

The event attracted more than twenty participants from eleven UK institutions, including not only students of musicology but also ethnomusicology, performance and composition. This can be considered a proof that the interest in analytical understanding of music is not an ‘ivory tower’ phenomenon endemic to a particular academic discipline but rather one that it is shared by people from all branches of music studies. The enthusiastic and positive response of the participants suggest good reasons to hold high hopes that further similar events will follow this successful pilot scheme.

Martin Curda
Cardiff University

Posted on 23rd December 2014 by Shay Loya in Music Analysis, Reviews, SMA No comments » Tags:

TAGS 2014 Roundtable

Anne Hyland, Julian Horton and the TAGS mascot

Facing the audience, with a bottle of wine and a mascot squirrel between them, SMA President Julian Horton and conference organizer Anne Hyland began a roundtable on the ‘future of music analysis’. This took place at Royal Holloway, on the very last session of TAGS 2014, on 3rd March. Continuing some of his arguments from the keynote address of the previous day, Professor Horton stated that he believes music theory and analysis should become core subjects in music studies in the UK, and that students should also be aware of the ethical dimensions of the discipline. The problem, of course, is how we go about achieving this. The ensuing discussion focused at first on the ethics of theory and analysis, but soon turned to the more urgent issue of the survival and growth of the discipline itself in academia. The lowering of technical proficiency requirements at A-level were identified as one central problem. However, Julian argued that (as he learned in a national meeting with teachers and civil servants) raising A-level standards would diminish the number of students studying music as an academic subject at secondary schools, and therefore the number of those applying for music courses at university. Damned if we do or if we don’t, it seems.

dscf1675So the question went back to how we may raise music literacy in primary and secondary schools. After playing a simple example of invertible counterpoint on the piano, Julian turned to us with this question: why do we not teach such basic counterpoint to 12-year-olds who are perfectly capable of absorbing mathematics at a comparable level? Well, insofar as we should, the question was rhetorical. But it was both sobering and depressing to mull over the non-academic reasons for this. A point was raised about a cultural-political agenda that unfortunately identifies technical proficiency with social elitism (somehow math is exempt from the same association). And David Bretherton has argued that Music is the only A-level subject where private instrumental-vocal tuition is built-in by default, which means that most music undergraduates almost invariably come these days from better-off families, reinforcing the image of elitism. In other words, there is an expectation that private tuition will fill the gap, and this certainly applies to counterpoint, harmony and musicianship in general. The only thing that may break this vicious circle of social elitism and educational deficiency is a fundamental change in the perception of what music skills are for, which music skills should and can be acquired, and at what age.

All we need to do now is convince the government. Good luck, everyone.

Perhaps we can try and change things in our own patch first. At present there are hardly any designated jobs for analysts, so most of us get into university positions by being able to do other things. This is fine as far as getting a foothold in academia, and as Anne reminded us (and I can concur), once one is part of an institution there is some scope to expand analysis in the curriculum, slowly but surely. But growth by stealth may not be enough. Towards the end of the discussion, Horton raised the prospect of adopting here the American model of institutionalized music theory. The argument for this is that the discipline will be protected, it will create jobs, produce students, raise the overall level, create its own prestige (which hopefully will trickle down to secondary and primary education)—and so on. Putting aside how this can be actually done in practical terms, there was some skepticism from the audience (as well as Horton himself) about this idea in principle. After all, some of our colleagues in the US routinely lament the level of undergraduate literacy. So irrespective of innovation at the highest levels, it seems that the trickling down is not working terribly well on the other side of the pond. Moreover, others have noted that institutional music theory results in more formalist and conformist work that often propagates central theories rather than critiques them.

So once again we were left with no clear answers and as much as I wished for a happy ending, the meeting and conference cadenced on a troubling note. If anyone has further thoughts about any of these issues please feel free to join the conversation and respond to this blog.

Shay Loya

Posted on 10th May 2014 by Shay Loya in Music Analysis, Reviews, SMA No comments » Tags:

The Fourth Meeting of the Postgraduate Writing Club

University of Leeds, 6th March 2014

From left to right: Andrew Cheetham, Danielle Hood, Daniel Holden, Joseph Knowles, Martin Curda, Derek Scott and Stephanie Jones.

The latest meeting of the Postgraduate Writing Club took place on 6th March 2014. The event, sponsored by the SMA, was hosted by the music department of the University of Leeds and chaired by Professor Derek Scott.

Although the number of participants was lower than last time, this was not to the detriment of the intensity and richness of discussion. The quality of the meeting was also ensured by the fact that all papers reflected a late and mature stage of research, and are now being prepared for publication. On this occasion the Writing Club allowed us to test our work against friendly criticism of fellow postgraduates before subjecting our papers to the full rigour of the peer-review process. As ever, the meeting unfolded in a climate of good humour, friendship and mutual support.

Martin Curda’s study of ‘The Body, the Grotesque and Carnival in the music of Pavel Haas’ relates the work of a relatively obscure composer to the context of Czechoslovakian avant-garde of the 1920s, thus bringing new material into the Anglophone musicological discourse. The discussion initially focused on the problem of translation of the terminology used by Czech musicologists and the idiosyncratic theoretical language of Leoš Janáček. Subsequently, attention was shifted to the position of Czechoslovakian avant-garde in the plurality of European avant-garde movements of the 1920s. Comments have also been made on formal structure of the text in relation to the problem of transition from a PhD thesis chapter to the format of a journal article.

Andrew Cheetham’s recent conference paper, combining archival research with comparative analytical enquiry, brings to light a hitherto unknown connection between particular works of English seventeenth-century composer George Jeffreys and the madrigals of the (in)famous Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa. The panel suggested ways to expand the analytical section of the paper, which is to become a chapter in a collected volume dedicated to Gesualdo, by considering broader issues of genre and style. It has been pointed out during the discussion that further research might focus on Jeffreys’s choice of literary text and scrutinise the extent to which it corresponds with the expressive language, apparently inspired by Gesualdo. Andrew was also encouraged to elaborate on the historical and technical implications of the fact that Gesualdo’s madrigals were transcribed into figured bass notation for a performance in which Jeffreys himself is believed to have taken part.

After lunch, Derek Scott enlightened us with his talk on ‘how (or how not!) to deal with T.V. and radio’. Drawing upon his widespread experience with all forms of media, Derek selected a couple of his most recent appearances, such as BBC Breakfast TV (2011), The One and Only Mrs Mills (2012) and Len Goodman’s Dance Band Days (2014) to provide advice about what really went on behind the scenes, the most important of which was ‘what might interest you might not interest the BBC’ (there were plenty of examples). Moreover, we are all now thoroughly informed that the BBC do at times try and recruit junior academics for research on the cheap and that it is often best to politely decline certain requests. Not that Derek wanted to put us off from enjoying a few minutes of fame here and there. Indeed, a public appearance looks great when having to demonstrate ‘impact’ in a research proposal. All in all, it was very interesting and useful to hear about the realities that an academic can face when dealing with media appearances.

Danielle Hood contributed her study of ‘The Uncanny Topic in the Fünf Orchesterstücke Op. 16’, approaching Schoenberg’s music in a novel way – from the perspective of Freud’s theory of the unconscious. Outlining the continuity with the ‘Ombra’ topic of earlier music, she identifies in Schoenberg’s works the topic of ‘the Uncanny’. Drawing on Freud’s description of the term, she suggests ways in which anxiety, repression and castration complex are signified in Schoenberg’s music. During the discussion, several pieces have been identified which might be eligible to scrutiny from a similar perspective. Finally, several remarks were made on the form of the soon-to-be-submitted article; given the breadth of Danielle’s (brilliant, one must say) conceptual argumentation, a careful use of subheadings might help the reader navigate in the text.

The research seminar which was to conclude the day was, unfortunately, cancelled. However, this provided the company with welcome opportunity to continue the discussion over a pint at the local pub, and what a discussion it proved to be! Small talk aside, some of the serious topics that came up included conference presentation experience, academic opportunities, research methodologies and avoiding sexism in academic writing. Now, lest anyone gets the wrong impression, we actually had fun – not only in the pub but throughout the day. The Writing Club meetings offer much more than a platform for heavy academic discussion: they create a sense of community. We would therefore like to thank the people who made it happen this March and encourage more people to join us for the next meeting, details of which will be advertised in due course. Finally, special thanks are due to Derek Scott for the advice, encouragement, support and wonderful hospitality.

Martin Curda

Posted on 10th March 2014 by Shay Loya in Reviews, SMA No comments » Tags:

Call for Papers: TAGS Conference 2014

Royal Holloway, University of London
Friday 2nd to Saturday 3rd May, 2014
Deadline for proposals: 21st March 2014
Keynote Speaker: Julian Horton (Durham University)
Student travel bursaries available

The SMA’s annual Theory and Analysis Graduate Students (TAGS) Conference will be hosted by the Department of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of May, 2014. The event provides a supportive and friendly environment in which postgraduates can gain experience in presenting their work and meet fellow researchers. Participants who do not wish to give a paper are also very welcome. Our keynote speaker will be the SMA’s new President, Professor Julian Horton (Durham University), who will give a paper entitled ‘In Defence of Musical Analysis’.

Proposals are invited from postgraduate students for 20-minute papers, themed sessions and lecture recitals addressing any analytical, critical or theoretical subject and in relation to any style of music. We also welcome submissions in the following areas:

• Analysing a-/microtonal Music;
• Analysing non-Western Musics;
• Performance as Analysis / Analysis as Performance;
• Analysis, Philosophy, and Critical Theory;
• Intersections between History, Theory, and Analysis;
• Analysing Popular Music and Improvisation;
• Music Perception and Cognition;
• Empirical Approaches to Music.

Themed sessions focusing on the analysis of a particular work(s), or on specific arrangements or transcriptions are also welcomed.

For 20-minute paper proposals, abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent by email to Katie Cattell at (email size limit = 5MB). Please include name, affiliation, postal address, email address, and AV requirements on a separate cover sheet (Ms Word or PDF). Organisers of themed sessions should submit a brief overview together with the individual abstracts. Proposals for lecture recitals should include full details of the proposed performance and any relevant requirements in their cover sheet.

The closing date for receipt of proposals is 21st March 2014. All those submitting proposals will be notified of the outcome by the end of March 2014. Delegates will be invited to register from lunchtime on Friday 2nd May, and the conference will run until Saturday afternoon, 3rd May. Royal Holloway is located just 20 miles West of Central London, and is easily accessed by train. Informal enquiries may be sent via email to Dr Anne Hyland at

If you are presenting a paper you will be eligible to apply for an SMA Student Travel Bursary to help cover the costs of travel and accommodation (B&B accommodation will be available near campus). Further details can be found here; please note that the deadline for applications for bursaries is Wednesday, 2 April, 2014.

Posted on 8th February 2014 by Shay Loya in CFPs, SMA, Uncategorized No comments » Tags:

CFP: Shifting Perspectives: Approaches to Music Performance Research

A postgraduate research conference on ‘Shifting Perspectives: Approaches to Music Performance Research’, will be hosted by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Friday 9 May 2014.

The aim of the conference is to provide opportunities for postgraduate students to present their research at various stages of development, and to create a meeting place for students from different institutions to discuss their projects and ideas. The event will include keynote addresses, 20-minute paper presentations and lecture recitals.
Proposals are invited on topics that address changing attitudes to performers and performance practice. Possible themes might include, but are not limited to:

• Methodological innovation in relation to music performance research
• Changing relationships between composition, performance and the creative process
• Changes in ensembles, repertoires and audiences
• Development of instruments and the impact on performance practice and repertoire
• Changing social roles of performers
• Changing approaches to performance analysis

Potential contributors are invited to submit abstracts for:

i) Individual paper presentations (20 minutes, plus 10 minutes question time)
ii) Collaborative papers (30 minutes, plus 10 minutes question time)
iii) Lecture recitals (40 minutes to 50 minutes maximum, including question time)

Abstracts should address the conference theme and state the aims and methodological approach of the proposed paper(s). Abstracts will be published in the conference programme, and should be no longer than 300 words for individual papers and lecture recitals, and up to 500 words for collaborative papers. They should include the following information:

i) Title of paper
ii) Author(s) name(s)
iii) Institutional affiliation
iv) Email address(es)
v) Abstract

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is Friday 14 February 2014. Successful contributors will be notified via email by the end of February 2014. The conference programme will be advertised in March 2014.

Abstracts should be submitted via email (preferably as plain text – only attachments in .rtf format will be accepted) to Dr Eva Mantzourani at:

Posted on 5th February 2014 by Shay Loya in CFPs, Uncategorized No comments » Tags:

Protest Music in the Twentieth Century (15-17 Nov 2013)

The conference ‘Protest Music in the Twentieth Century’ was held in the Complesso monumentale di San Micheletto in Lucca, Italy, from the 15th to the 17th November 2013. The conference attracted some fifty delegates from countries as far afield as Australia and the United States and offered those attending the opportunity to hear papers that encompassed a multiplicity of topics within the overriding theme. » Read more: Protest Music in the Twentieth Century (15-17 Nov 2013)

Posted on 27th December 2013 by Shay Loya in Reviews, Uncategorized No comments » Tags:

SMA Postgraduate Writing Club, Third Meeting

Participants, from left to right: Miona Dimitrijevic, Stephanie Jones, Kirstie Hewlett, Becky Thumpston, Andrew Cheetham, Alex Glyde-Bates, Joe Knowles, William Green and Martin Curda.

With Dr Kenneth Smith adopting the persona of a rather more youthful Lord Alan Sugar, the third SMA Postgraduate Writing Club session was held in the ‘board room’ on Saturday 5th October at the School of Music, University of Liverpool.

The first candidate up for interrogation was Joseph Knowles from the University of York who submitted a draft chapter entitled ‘Chromaticism in Gesualdo’s Madrigal ‘Mercé grido piangendo’, which is due to be published in Reappraising the Seiento: Compositional Procedure in Italy and England. In his chapter, Joseph uses pitch class set theory to enlighten the reader about the possible hidden relations that can be found between the use of chromaticism and the theme of ‘death’. It was agreed that, despite being in draft form, the chapter made for a very interesting read. The discussion offered a plethora of ideas that mainly focused on the various ways in which the chapter could be restructured and expanded to best utilise the word count available.

The second candidate to find themselves in the limelight was Miona Dimitrijevic from the University of Strasbourg. Miona submitted a script entitled ‘Cyclic Integration in Max Reger’s Symphonies’ that was originally written for the 17th Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music. It was through the discussion of Miona’s paper that a number of broader issues about writing conference papers were raised, such as: tailoring the content of your paper to the audience that shall be attending; approaches to structuring your paper to fit within time constraints; and guiding the listener successfully through a well-conveyed argument. This session neatly complemented the previous, and rounded off the first half of the afternoon with much food for thought as the group broke for lunch to refuel and oil the brain cogs.

Up next was Dr Kenneth Smith who talked to the group about the process of being peer-reviewed, providing a positive spin on the “horror stories” that us fledglings are likely to encounter in the not too distant future. Listening intently, the group recognised that any advice on how to deal with the harsh reality of anonymous experts thoroughly criticising your work is invaluable (even if Kenneth did summarise a key coping mechanism as “murder your children”). Yet as was demonstrated with real examples, some peer-reviewers can be useful for providing valuable, encouraging feedback on how a piece of work can be improved. So not all is doom and gloom. After all, publishing during or/and after PhD is all part and parcel of hearing those well-known words ‘you’re hired!’.

The third candidate to put forward a piece of writing was Becky Thumpston from Keele University who submitted a draft chapter from her PhD thesis entitled ‘Towards a tripartite theory of musical agency’. After debating Becky’s personal niggles about Julian Lloyd-Webber and deciding whether they should actually be incorporated into her thesis, the group discussed the theory that Becky includes in her chapter to support her argument and whether certain theoretical passages would be better placed at the beginning of the chapter. Despite the elegance and quality of Becky’s work, the group could no longer suppress their need to focus on minor details, so the session, and indeed a very enjoyable afternoon, was brought to an end by identifying a few inevitable spelling errors and extra spaces.

If it were not for Kenneth Smith and my fellow student representative Kirstie Hewlett, as well as the generous financial support of the SMA, this successful and highly beneficial afternoon would not have gone ahead. So on behalf of the rest of the group I would like to openly say thank you very much for your time, energy and travel bursaries.

Arrangements for the next writing club meeting will take place soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in attending – or even hosting – the next session, Kirstie and I would be delighted to hear from you at

Steph Jones, SMA Student Representative

Posted on 21st October 2013 by Shay Loya in Music Analysis, SMA No comments » Tags:

SMA Postgraduate Writing Club, Second Meeting

On Saturday 27th April 2013, the SMA’s Postgraduate Writing Club met for the second time at the University of Manchester, and what a productive meeting it was!

The session hit the ground running with Joseph Knowles’ chapter ‘Gesualdo, Composer of the Twentieth Century’, which will be published in the edited collection Critical Music Historiography: Probing Canons, Ideologies and Institutions. The proposed output of Joseph’s work initiated much fruitful discussion about how to nurture your argument to make an analytically based chapter appeal to the reader of a non-specialist publication. My own contribution—a conference paper on Schenker’s engagement with the radio, which I am now writing up as a journal article—opened a dialogue about how to package your research to appeal to the readership of specific journals. Olga Sologub’s chapter on ‘Symphonic Explorations’ in Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony closed the session. By far the meatiest offering, her chapter was met with a lengthy discussion on structuring your writing with thematic (as opposed to chronological) markers; the group’s response also touched upon strategies of bringing analytical prose to life through employing active language. Our guest chair, Dr Laura Tunbridge, sparked the final discussion of the day with the neatly provocative question: ‘is analysis important?’. Whether feeding back into our own work as practising musicians, elucidating the qualities in music that move us, or satisfying a proclivity towards close textual study, analysis was, and indeed continues to be, a highly valued tool to all present.

The SMA is extremely grateful to Dr Laura Tunbridge for giving up her Saturday to chair the session, and to Olga Sologub, who—in her continuing involvement with the society—graciously offered to host the meeting. I would also like to personally thank Becky Thumpston and Daniel Elphick, who provided much fuel for the discussion. The next meeting of the Writing Club will take place at Keele University in the autumn. If you are interested in getting involved, or if you would like to nominate your institution to host a meeting, I would be delighted to hear from you. You can get in touch at

Kirstie Hewlett, SMA Student Representative

Posted on 27th May 2013 by Shay Loya in Music Analysis, SMA No comments » Tags: