Here in the Music Department we thought we’d give you some insights into what we’re up to through a new ‘academic of the month’ feature on our blog. As it was my idea, my colleagues have kindly nominated me (Catherine) for the January slot, so here goes:
I’m currently Head of the Music Department, which means that I oversee everything that we’re working on and make sure that everything is running smoothly. I regularly look in on the student forums, especially for our two new modules, A342 Central Questions in the Study of Music and the MA – it’s extremely interesting to see how materials that we’ve worked on for so long are being received by our students. In addition I’m working on our new partnerships with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. I enjoy regular supervision meetings with my PhD students, who have very different but exciting topics – gender and the British Brass band; amateur and professional musicians in Truro, Cornwall; electronic music and the Soundcloud network and public funding for popular music in the UK.
I am busy with various research projects – at the moment I’m working on aspects of music on cruise ships and liners, and have amassed archival and ethnographic materials about the reality of this work for musicians which I’ll be analysing in the coming weeks. I’m particularly interested in the role of jazz in this context, which began with investigations of the so-called ‘Geraldo’s Navy’ after WW2 – musicians who played on ships as a way of getting to New York to experience the latest innovations in jazz. I presented some initial findings a week or so ago at the Department’s ‘Hidden Musicians revisited’ conference and in my keynote for the ‘Social History of the Musicians’ Union’ project in Glasgow (pictured), and will develop it further for a paper at the International Maritime Economic History conference in Perth, Australia later in the year. I’ll also be taking part in the largest academic jazz conference in the world in Birmingham in April. I’m hoping to find time to finalise an extensive study of recorded performances of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for a seminar at the Institute for Musical Research in May.
I spend quite a bit of time editing (the Jazz Research Journal), reviewing for other journals and publishers, and also evaluating funding applications for the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I also direct a big band, Dr Jazz and the Cheshire Cats, which links with my research interests – I regularly attempt to emulate (jazz clarinettists) Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.