PhD is student’s fourth OU music qualification

Tom Hewitt with supervisor Robert Samuels

OU Music student Tom Hewitt has qualified for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) after successfully completing his viva voce examination on 8 January. Tom’s thesis was supervised by Robert Samuels of the Music Department and David Roden of the Philosophy Department. Its title is Cyborg Music: A Future Musicotechnographic Aesthetic, and it explores the philosophical and practical consequences of the reliance of humans on technology to create music.

Tom with his PhD examiners, Dr Sean Williams (OU) and Professor Peter Dayan (Edinburgh).

Tom first started studying with The Open University in 1987, while working for the Metropolitan Police Service. Since taking early retirement from the Met, he has acquired three degrees and a diploma from the OU: a BA in 2010 with modules in Music, Maths and Philosophy; an MA in Music in 2013; and now a PhD. He also gained the Diploma in Music in 2009, which was awarded to students who had completed modules in Music at Level 2 and Level 3 before the introduction of the full BA Music degree.

Tom’s story is one of hard work, long dedication and great intellectual creativity. The Department offers him its warmest congratulations on his achievement and very best wishes for his future.

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Research round-up: December 2019

Here’s a quick round-up of recent research activities, publications and events involving OU Music academics.

Prize for Emeritus Professor’s book

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Brass Instruments, edited by Trevor Herbert, Arnold Myers and John Wallace, has been named as one of the winners of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles of 2019. Choice is the reviews journal of the Association of College and Research Librarians, a division of the American Libraries Association. 6,000 academic titles across all subjects were submitted for the awards.

Cultural History of Glasgow Research Network

At the Public Study Day, Saturday 16th November, Dr Elaine Moohan and other network members presented collaborative talks about their research as well as a number of short talks about how to interpret types of archival documents and museum artefacts. These will shortly appear on the project website as Toolkits for research.

Friends of Glasgow Cathedral lecture

Elaine Moohan was delighted to be invited back to a meeting of the Friends of Glasgow Cathedral on St Andrew’s Day. She gave a lecture about church music in Glasgow during the 70 years following the Scottish Reformation of 1560.

Recent publications

Elaine Moohan’s edition of the complete works of Robert Johnson (c1500-c1560) is now in press and will be shortly available. Johnson’s works include church music for 2-5 voices, songs, and instrumental pieces. Individual works will be available as pdfs to encourage choirs to add his music to their repertoire.

An essay by Helen Coffey on ‘Music and ceremony in Maximilian’s Innsbruck’ has just been published on the University of Vienna’s Musikleben website.

Laura Hamer has had two chapters published in The Cambridge History of Music Criticism, edited by Christopher Dingle: ‘Critiquing the Canon: The Role of Criticism on Canon Formation’ and ‘The Gender Paradox: Criticism of Women and Women as Critics’. Earlier this year, Laura’s essay ‘A Cultural Formation: Dukas and Elsa Barraine’ was published in  Paul Dukas: Legacies of a French Musician, edited by Helen Minors and Laura Watson.

An article by Naomi Barker titled ‘Mottos and Metaphors: Towards an Interpretation of the Emblems in Frescobaldi’s Primo libro d’arie musicali’ was recently published in the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, the official journal of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music.

Martin Clarke‘s chapter ‘“Come, All You People”: Lutheran Influences on the Spread of Global Hymnody’ was published in Celebrating Lutheran Music: Scholarly Perspectives at the Quincentenary, edited by Jonas Lundblad, Mattias Lundberg and Maria Schildt.

Head of Department Byron Dueck recently translated an historically important article on pentatonic music theory. The original article was written by Constantin Brăiloiu and published in 1955 as “Un problème de tonalité (La métabole pentatonique)”. The translation, entitled “A problem of tonality (Pentatonic metamorphosis)”, has been published in Translingual Discourse in Ethnomusicology.

Robert Samuels‘ blog post ‘Schoenberg’s Coalition Chess’ has been republished in Spanish in the journal El Rapto de Europa.

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Major book award for Emeritus Professor of Music

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Brass Instruments, edited by Trevor Herbert, Arnold Myers and John Wallace, has been named as one of the winners of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles of 2019. Choice is the reviews journal of the Association of College and Research Librarians, a division of the American Libraries Association. 6,000 academic titles across all subjects were submitted for the awards.

Some thirty-two experts from fifteen countries join three of the world’s leading authorities on the design, manufacture, performance and history of brass musical instruments in this first major encyclopaedia on the subject. It includes over one hundred illustrations, and gives attention to every brass instrument which has been regularly used, with information about the way they are played, the uses to which they have been put, and the importance they have had in classical music, sacred rituals, popular music, jazz, brass bands and the bands of the military. There are specialist entries covering every inhabited region of the globe and essays on the methods that experts have used to study and understand brass instruments. The encyclopaedia spans the entire period from antiquity to modern times, with new and unfamiliar material that takes advantage of the latest research. From Abblasen to Zorsi Trombetta da Modon, this is the definitive guide for students, academics, musicians and music lovers.

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OU Honours Howard Goodall at Brighton Degree Ceremony

The composer Howard Goodall was given an honorary doctorate at the Open University’s Brighton degree ceremony on Saturday 19 October.

Howard was presented for the degree by Robert Samuels of the Music Department. Robert’s address to those at the ceremony, who included 350 graduates and their supporters, concluded:

Howard shares the Open University’s commitment to the role of education, including music education, in social justice. In this first year in which we as a university now offer a full degree in music, recruiting musicians from all backgrounds, who make music in all genres, from those making music professionally to those taking up instruments for the first time, we are proud to honour Howard’s commitment to bringing music to every child and every school. His is a passion we share.

In reply, Howard spoke of music’s unique relationship to time: its capacity to recall specific moments in the past, or to shape the time in which it is performed, or even to affect the future long after the passing of its creator. Music, he said, is unpredictable, inexhaustible and endlessly enriching of our lives – just as is the education delivered by The Open University.

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Music from Elaine Moohan’s edition of Robert Johnson’s Complete Works to be performed in New York

Collectio Musicorum (“Collection of Music”) presents a concert of music from Scotland, dating from the twelfth through the eighteenth centuries.  It takes place at Christ and St Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th St, New York, NY 10023, on Friday, October 18th at 8 PM.  Admission is Free.

Much of the programme is devoted to music by Robert Johnson, a priest and reformer, (called “The Heretic Priest”) who was forced to flee Scotland due to his reformed religious views.  A prolific composer, his music has recently been edited by OU Music’s Dr Elaine Moohan as part of the Musica Scotica series.  This music has never before been performed in the United States.

The performers include singers Amanda Sidebottom, Padraic Costello, Nate Adams, and Andrew Padgett; harpist Christopher Thompson and lutenist Christopher Morrongiello, all under the direction of Collectio Musicorum’s artistic director, Dr Jeff S. Dailey.

Also, Collectio Musicorum will be performing part of the programme the week before, on Thursday, October 10th at 1 PM at St. Bartholomew’s Church.  Details may be found here.

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Congratulations to Dr Martyn Strachan!

Congratulations to Dr Martyn Strachan, who was awarded his PhD at the OU graduation ceremony in Glasgow on 27 September. Martyn’s thesis, Style in the Music of Arthur Sullivan: An Investigation, was supervised by Fiona Richards, Martin Clarke and Rosemary Golding. Martyn is pictured below (centre) with Martin Clarke and Elaine Moohan, from the OU’s Music Department.

Dr Martyn Strachan

Drs Martin Clarke, Martyn Strachan and Elaine Moohan

For more information about our research degrees, visit this page.

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PhD Studentships in Music at the Open University

The Department of Music at the Open University invites applications for October 2020 entry to its PhD programme.

Our research was rated 1st in the UK in the Guardian’s analysis of the last Research Excellence Framework, and 8th in the Times Higher Education table.

We have a wide range of expertise, from music of the medieval period to the present day including film music, electronic music and non-Western music. Specialisms in the Music Department cover historical musicology, the social and cultural study of music, music analysis, editing, performance practice, iconography, ethnomusicology, music and literature studies and musical acoustics.

For further details of staff and student research interests see: and

Successful applicants to the Music PhD programme will have the opportunity to apply for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentship. Awards for UK residents cover all tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant at the standard RCUK rate (£15,009 p.a. in 2019/20). Awards for students ordinarily resident in an EU country other than the UK are fees-only.

The Open-Oxford-Cambridge is an exciting new doctoral training partnership, funded by the AHRC. The three participating universities share extensive expertise in delivering successful doctoral training, developed in collaboration with our students and a wide range of non-HEI partners. For more information about the Open-Oxford-Cambridge partnership, please visit

How to apply
Informal enquiries about studentships and PhD studies in Music should be made to Helen Barlow at in the first instance. Potential applicants are encouraged to e-mail a draft research proposal at least one month before the deadline.

Further details of the application process for Open-Oxford-Cambridge studentships can be found here:

Initially, applications for studentships will be assessed for a place on the Music PhD programme. Successful applicants will then be forwarded to studentship panels for further assessment and ranking.

Please note that the deadline for all postgraduate research degree applications, including for studentships, is noon 8 January 2020.

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Clara Schumann at 200

The renowned concert pianist, composer and teacher Clara Schumann (née Wieck) was born on this day, 13 September, in 1819. In this short video, OU Music Lecturer and Staff Tutor Dr Laura Hamer discusses Clara Schumann’s life and career. Clara Schumann features in our undergraduate module A342 Central Questions in the Study of Music. This module is part of our BA (Hons) in Music, and can also be studied as part of the BA (Hons) Arts & Humanities and the Open degree.

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Proms Plus Event – 4 September

On Wednesday 4 September, the OU Music Department’s Ben Winters will be appearing at a Proms Plus talk at Imperial College, London prior to Prom 61, given by the Vienna Philharmonic. Ben will be in conversation with Jessica Duchen and Radio 3’s Georgia Mann about Erich Korngold, the subject of much of Ben’s research, and about whom he is currently writing a new book.

The event is free and details can be found here. Alternatively, you can listen to an edited version of the event on BBC Radio 3 in the interval of the concert.

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Robert Johnson: Complete Works

Robert Johnson Complete Works, edited by Dr Elaine Moohan is now in press and will be available shortly from the Scottish Music Centre, Glasgow. This edition of Johnson’s (d. c. 1560) works is the result of a lengthy research project that started with Elaine’s late colleague, Dr Kenneth Elliott, in the 1960s. All of the works have been newly edited for this publication over a period of three years, supported with funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh that enabled Elaine to consult some sixty manuscript sources and nine early printed music and literary books in UK and American libraries. To date, only a handful of Johnson’s works have been published in modern notation. This is the first time that all of his surviving works, including some fragmentary pieces, are published together in a format that is both scholarly and suitable for performers.

There are nine Latin- and eleven English-texted sacred works, in a range of styles with something to suit all choral abilities. Three of the four English songs have accompaniment for instrumental ensemble, and the works solely for instrumental ensemble are in three, four, and five parts. The volume includes reconstructions of five of the nine fragmentary works.

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