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Seminar Series

Research Seminar Series 2022-23

This year’s Research Seminar Series - a relaunch of the long-running Seminar in Musicology - will take place in room J305, UCD School of Music, Newman Building, UCD Belfield Campus on Thursday evenings, 5pm. These seminars seek not only to serve as a focal point for the School’s research community, but also to welcome music scholars and interested parties from across Dublin and beyond. All are warmly invited to attend. Each seminar will also be followed by a drinks reception.

UCD is committed to continually improving campus accessibility and equality, diversity and inclusion. Enquiries regarding access or any other matters may be sent to music@ucd.ie.

This year’s programme is convened by Anika Babel and Tomos Watkins, with support from Laura Anderson and Tomás McAuley. Details of previous seminar series may be found in the Seminar Archives.

Unlike other years, this trimester’s series include the Larchet Lecture and College Lecture, which will be held in alternate locations; the College Lecture only requires advance booking. Further details on those individual talks are available below.

Spring 2023

10 Lessons Learnt writing a Biography about Schubert

Presented by Professor Lorraine Byrne Bodley (Maynooth University)

Venue: The William Jefferson Clinton Auditorium, John Hume Building (view map)

Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano: The Cabaretesque in the Moment of Eschatology

Presented by Professor Philip V. Bohlman (University of Chicago)


My UCD seminar builds on my quarter century of research and performance in Jewish cabaret, as Artistic Director of the eight-member “New Budapest Orpheum Society.” For the past year I have been working at the confluence of a book project, The Cabaretesque in Jewish Music, and a double-CD recording with my ensemble, “When We Remembered Zion”: Songs of Love, Loss, and Life from the Jewish Diaspora. As in my writing and performance, I shall seek to navigate this confluence in my UCD seminar by entering the time-place, or chronotope, of modern history, reflecting on a series of “moments” given meaning by European cabaret. The moment that will concern us in Dublin is one to which I refer as the “moment of eschatology,” whose temporality is voiced by silence and the resistance to it. The moment of eschatology may mark the end of things—the end of life or humankind in theological and apocalyptic thought—but it is also at this moment that emptiness and silence open as spaces toward new beginning. It is in the cabaretesque that the silence of the eschatological moment is sounded anew. Cabaret during the Shoah, both in resistance and in concentration camps, will occupy center stage in my UCD seminar, which further draws extensively on sound and image from the quarter-century performance history of the New Budapest Orpheum Society.


Philip V. Bohlman is Ludwig Rosenberger Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish History in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, where he is also Artistic Director of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, and he is Honorarprofessor at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover. He holds a BM in piano from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he took his MM and Ph.D. in Music (Ethnomusicology) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1984), and he received a doctor honoris causa from the Romanian National University of Music Bucharest (2019). His research addresses the intersections of music with race, nationalism, and colonial encounter. Among his recent books are Song Loves the Masses: Herder on Music and Nationalism (with J. G. Herder; University of California Press, 2017), Wie sängen wir Seinen Gesang auf dem Boden der Fremde! (LIT Verlag, 2019), World Music: A Very Short Introduction (2nd, rev. ed.; Oxford University Press, 2020), Wolokolamsker Chaussee (Bloomsbury, 2021), and with the New Budapest Orpheum Society the 2015 Grammy Award-nominated CD, As Dreams Fall Apart: The Golden Age of Jewish Stage and Film Music, 1925–1955 (Cedille, 2014). For his books he has received the Derek Allen Prize of the British Academy, the Bruno Nettl Prize, and the Ruth Solie Prize. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. Phil Bohlman is the recipient of the 2022 International Balzan Prize in Ethnomusicology. 

Venue: J305, School of Music, Newman Building

Weird Hibernia

Presented by Professor Jennifer Walshe (University of Oxford)

What is Ireland? Is it a country? A construct? A place people live or the staging ground for Joyce’s Ulysses and Game of Thrones? And what is Irish music? John Field? Enya? AI-generated seannós?

Composer Jennifer Walshe’s work has continually focussed on unpacking and interrogating Irish identity. In this talk, Walshe will discuss how Irishness is explored in works such as Aisteach, a fictional archive of Irish avant-garde music, ULTIMATE CHILL DANNY BOY MEGAMIX, which features over 300 recordings of Danny Boy, and Ireland: A Dataset, a work which uses AI to look at a country dealing with the legacy of colonialism, a country in which everything from landscape to identity has been idealised, appropriated and remixed.

“The most original compositional voice to emerge from Ireland in the past 20 years” (The Irish Times) and “Wild girl of Darmstadt” (Frankfurter Rundschau), composer and performer Jennifer Walshe was born in Dublin, Ireland. Her music has been commissioned, broadcast and performed all over the world. She has been the recipient of fellowships and prizes from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York, the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm, the Internationales Musikinstitut, Darmstadt and Akademie Schloss Solitude among others. Recent projects include TIME TIME TIME, an opera written in collaboration with the philosopher Timothy Morton, and THE SITE OF AN INVESTIGATION, a 30-minute epic for Walshe’s voice and orchestra, commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. THE SITE has been performed by Walshe and the NSO, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and also the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra. A Late Anthology of Early Music Vol. 1: Ancient to Renaissance, her third solo album, was released on Tetbind in 2020. The album uses AI to rework canonical works from early Western music history. A Late Anthology was chosen as an album of the year in The Irish Times, The Wire and The Quietus. Walshe is currently professor of composition at the University of Oxford. Her work was recently profiled by Alex Ross in The New Yorker.

Event Registration: Click here to register for this event. Booking is essential. Tickets are offered on a first-come first-served basis.

Venue: UCD University Club (view map). This lecture will take place in the Cedar Cyprus Room of the UCD University Club, on Wednesday, 5 April 2023, at 6pm sharp. Refreshments will be served. 

What a body can do: early modern musical scores as somatic scripts

Presented by Professor Bettina Varwig (University of Cambridge)


This paper proposes a novel approach to notated musical sources in European early modernity. Rather than viewing musical scores from the period primarily as encoding musical works, or as texts susceptible to hermeneutic analysis, I propose to read them as somatic scripts, which inscribe the memory of and potential for specific bodily actions and reactions from their performers and listeners. Such an approach allows us to recuperate the ways in which many musical features for which we can typically supply cogent technical explanations – such as dissonance, repetition, melisma, timbre, arpeggio – harboured crucial bodily dimensions that have tended to get lost in later commentary. It also allows revealing insights into how these early modern performing and listening bodies were constituted and how they behaved and felt in acts of music making. Attending to musical scores in this manner can thereby offer a unique contribution to broader histories of the body and the emotions. 


Bettina Varwig is Professor of Music History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College. Her research interests span early modern practices of musical listening and performance, as well as the history of the body, the emotions and the senses. She is author of Histories of Heinrich Schütz (Cambridge, 2011) and editor of Rethinking Bach (Oxford, 2021). Her latest monograph, Music in the Flesh: An Early Modern Musical Physiology is forthcoming with Chicago University Press later this year.

Venue: J305, School of Music, Newman Building

"Home Sweet Home": Sentimentality and the Politics of Domesticity in Anglo-American Pop Song 

Presented by Dr Emily Gale (University College Cork)


In 1823, Henry Bishop and John Howard Payne published an adapted version of “Home, Sweet Home” from Payne’s opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan. Selling 100,000 copies as solo sheet music, the song circulated far and wide as one of the hottest jams of the nineteenth century: performers touring the United States sang it, including the Swedish soprano, Jenny Lind; young women referred to its lyrics in diary entries; and parodies of it continued to appear in songsters until well into the second half of the century. Inspiring a veritable craze, songwriters followed with hundreds of other “home songs.” 

This presentation listens to the nineteenth-century home song as an especially significant genre at a time when there were many threats to the concept of home: westward expansion of the US (manifest destiny) and then the so-called closing of the frontier; the abolitionist movement and the abolition of chattel slavery; a number of wars, including the Civil War and Indian wars; industrialization; and changing gender roles in the domestic sphere as a result of urban life. But whose conception of home is represented in these songs and in what ways? How does “Home, Sweet Home” inform our hearing of more contemporary manifestations? In so asking, I aim to untether the longstanding and still prevalent associations between femininity, domesticity, and excess emotional expression. 


Dr Emily Gale is a fixed-term Lecturer in Popular Music Studies at University College Cork. Her book in progress, Sentimental Songs for Sentimental People: An Unheard History of US Popular Music, explores intersections between sentimentalism, gender, class, and race with chapters on home, love, death, tears, youth, and feels. She currently hosts a radio show about her research on campus station UCC98.3FM.  

Venue: J305, School of Music, Newman Building

A Case of Voice-Skin: Biosensor Performance

Presented by Dr Zeynup Bulut (Queens University Belfast)


In this talk, Zeynep Bulut will discuss her exploration of voice as skin, drawing on various gesture-based biosensing musical interfaces. She will examine biosensing musical interfaces in conversation with histories of vibrotactile speech technologies and contemporary digital media, which employ both voice and touch-driven interfaces. Looking at biosensor performances through the lens of voice and touch-driven interfaces (and vice versa), she will argue how biosensor performances evoke voice as skin, as a multi-sensory interface that both connects and differentiates bodies of all kinds, without being limited to labels of verbal language.

This talk is part of Bulut’s forthcoming book, Building a Voice: Sound, Surface, Skin (under contract with Goldsmiths Press). Bulut developed her study on tactile speech during her research visit at the Max Planck Research Group “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics,” led by Prof. Dr. Viktoria Tkaczyk at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.


Zeynep Bulut is a Lecturer in Music at Queen’s University Belfast. Prior to joining the faculty at QUB, she was an Early Career Lecturer in Music at King's College London (2013-2017), and post-doctoral research fellow at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry (2011-2013). She received her PhD in Critical Studies/Experimental Practices in Music from the University of California, San Diego (2011). Her research interests include voice and sound studies, experimental music, sound and media art, technologies of hearing and speech, voice and environment, and music and medicine. Her first manuscript, Building a Voice: Sound, Surface, Skin, is under contract with Goldsmiths Press. Her articles have appeared in various volumes and journals including Perspectives of New Music, Postmodern Culture, and Music and Politics. She is project lead for the interdisciplinary research network and platform, Music, Arts, Health, and Environment, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Account at QUB, and for the collaborative research initiative "Map A Voice,” devised in collaboration with King’s College London’s Department of Music and Department of Media and Computing & Rapid-Mix at Goldsmiths, University of London, supported by the Cultural Institute at KCL as part of the Early Career Researchers scheme. Alongside her scholarly work, she has also exhibited sound works, composed and performed vocal pieces for concert, video, and theatre, and released two singles. Her composer profile has been featured by British Music Collection. She is a certified practitioner of Deep Listening.

Venue: J305, School of Music, Newman Building

Too Pretty for Politics: The Case of Ondine (1958)

Presented by Dr Kyle Kaplan (University College Dublin)

Venue: J305, School of Music, Newman Building

Autumn 2022

The Sovereign Ghost: Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) and the Eclipses of Cultural History

Presented by Professor Harry White (University College Dublin)


The Venetian composer Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) has endured an afterlife of almost total eclipse. Despite an immense catalogue  (estimated at over three thousand works) and twenty years’ distinguished service at the court of Charles VI, Caldara has languished in the shadow of his close contemporary and fellow Kapellmeister in Vienna, Johann Joseph Fux (c. 1660-1741).  It remains legitimate to add, however, that both composers have received far less than their due in the annals of reception history, to say little of contemporary performance and circulation. In this lecture, I propose an explanation for this state of affairs which draws upon my recent monograph, The Musical Discourse of Servitude (Oxford University Press, 2020), in order to identify Caldara as a crucial agent in the development of a work-based autonomy, through which eighteenth-century music became emancipated from the servitude of liturgical practice. I shall also countenance the difficulties of rehabilitating Caldara’s prodigious musical estate at the present moment, when the very concept of European music (and within that fold, the legitimacy of ‘the composer’ as an abiding entity) is under siege. I shall (lastly) argue that a genre-based history of European music in the early eighteenth century, in contradistinction to our contemporary preoccupation with Bach and Handel in particular, is likely to throw Caldara’s significance into much sharper relief than has hitherto been the case.


Harry White is Professor of Music at University College Dublin and a Fellow of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. From 2003-6 he was inaugural President of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, and served thereafter as a council member of the society until May 2021.

He is perhaps best known as a cultural historian of music in Ireland, on which subject he has published over eighty papers and book-chapters and three monographs: The Keeper's Recital (1998), The Progress of Music in Ireland (2005), and Music and the Irish Literary Imagination (2008). He has also published extensively on music in early eighteenth-century Austria, and on the history of Anglo-American musicology since 1945.

He was general editor (with Barra Boydell) of The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland (Dublin, 2013), and his most recent publications include The Musical Discourse of Servitude (Oxford and New York, 2020), The Well-Tempered Festschrift (Vienna, 2020) and Music, Migration and European Culture (Zagreb, 2020), the last of which he edited with Ivano Cavallini and Jolanta Guzy-Pasiak. Professor White was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 2006, the Academy of Europe in 2015 and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2018.

Queer Quality? Value, Reception, and Creative Agency in the Soundtracks of Ryan Murphy's Horror Television

Presented by Dr Catherine Haworth (University of Huddersfield)


Superstar writer-producer-director-showrunner Ryan Murphy is both emblematic and at the margins of trends within the production and reception of contemporary television. With a distinctiveness of style and consistency of theme across multiple shows and formats, Murphy’s work bears many hallmarks of the auteur – a common theme in television criticism, which often applies (not unproblematic) cinematic models to the small screen as markers of excellence. However, identification of Murphy as auteur is almost always accompanied by unease about the quality and/or value of his productions, which are both celebrated and censured for their extravagance; guilty pleasures that sit easily with the concept of event TV, but less comfortably within discourse around high-end, cerebral, ‘art’ television. Murphy’s ‘excesses’ – visual sumptuousness; sonic saturation; outlandish plots; exaggerated characterisation; liberal use of sex and violence; and recycling of stars across roles and series – are explicitly coded as queer, a positioning amplified by Murphy’s own queer celebrity, his frequent foregrounding of narratives of acceptance, and increasingly inclusive casting choices. Again, this coding is both positive and negative. Whilst celebrating diversity, subjectivity, and authorial creativity, it also aligns with a long history of marginalisation through the positioning of queerness as camp, theatrical, superficial… as just too much.

This paper examines excess in the soundtracks of Murphy’s horror television, and their uneasy position within the discourse of quality television. As a genre marked by boundary-crossing and the spectacular, horror is often both visually and sonically extreme, and Murphy’s musical collaborators on series including American Horror Story (FX, 2011-) and Ratched (Netflix, 2020) work both within and outside expectations of both the horror soundtrack and the ideals of cohesion, authorial agency, and ‘good taste’ that commonly underpin notions of artistry and value. These dense, attention-grabbing soundtracks (which variously include classic horror tropes, pre-existing tracks, intensely-rendered pastiche cues, musical moments, and crossover appearances by musical stars), demonstrate not only the ‘peakness’ of Murphy’s sonic approach but also the ways in which this might challenge – or queer – developing models of quality in television sound and music.


Catherine Haworth is Course Leader for Music and Music Technology at the University of Huddersfield. Her research focuses on musical practices of representation and identity across various media, with a particular interest in film and television music. Catherine has published on topics including the female detective in 1940s Hollywood; music, gender, and medical discourse; women and music in James Bond; film music and celebrity culture; and film and television musicals. Her editorial work includes a special edition of Music, Sound and the Moving Image on gender, sexuality, and the soundtrack; Gender, Age and Musical Creativity (Ashgate, 2015); and Singing Out: The Musical Voice in Audiovisual Media (forthcoming with EUP).

Jazz as Social Machine

Presented by Professor Thomas Irvine (University of Southampton)


Jazz has always been a sociotechnical activity in which "no one knows everything but everyone knows something." It shares this quality with what Web Scientists call a "social machine." This talk takes a novel generative jazz algorithm, the Jazz Transformer (JT), as a springboard for critical reflections on the changing relations between computer science, musicology, and the Digital Humanities by placing AI jazz in the context of social machines. It offers a "reverse engineering" of the JT and its accompanying data set, the Weimar Jazz Database, as a way to explore how thinking about generative jazz AI can uncover hidden relations between Music Information Retrieval, traditional editorial musicology, and critical and postcolonial theory (e.g. Latour, Derrida, Foucault, and Sylvia Wynter). The result is a new perspective on AI jazz that frames it not only as a series of technical operations but also a social process in which musicians, critical scholars, and technologists can find each other, in knowledge and action, in a new kind of social machine.


Tom Irvine is a global historian of music from 1500 CE to the present. His current research focuses on global music history, historical sound studies and the use of machine learning techniques in jazz. He is the author of Listening to China: Sound and the Sino-Western Encounter 1770-1839 (University of Chicago Press, 2020) and the co-editor, with Neil Gregor, of Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor (Berghahn, 2019). He is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute (the UK’s national institution for AI and data science) and a Non-Executive Director of the Southampton Web Science Institute. This paper is the presentation of research funded by a fellowship from the Alan Turing Institute.

Tone, Tune, and Textual Comprehensibility in Central Cameroonian Liturgical Music

Presented by Professor Byron Dueck (The Open University); Paper co-authored by Dr Essele Essele Kisito (Catholic University of Central Africa)


Since the late 1950s, Cameroonian Catholic discourse has emphasised the importance of correspondence between liturgical melodies and the tonal elements of the texts they set. Most Cameroonian languages are tonal ones – in which the pitch of a syllable relative to its neighbours helps determine meaning. This study thus builds on previous research on tone and tune in African musics (e.g., Jones 1959, Schneider 1961, Agawu 1984 and 1988, Waterman 1990, Fürniss and Guarisma 2004, Schellenberg 2009, Essele 2017) by considering a context where an explicit ideology appears to govern the relationship between words and the melodies that set them. The talk begins by establishing the historical circumstances of the musical practices under consideration. It then presents the results of an analysis of pieces in the Ewondo and Eton languages that indicates broad similarities in how texts shape melodies and melodies shape texts across a range of genres, both sacred and secular. The talk closes by considering the implications the insistence on tone-tune correspondence has had for musical life in central Cameroon, not only within liturgical contexts but also more widely.


Byron Dueck is Professor of Music at the Open University and Chair of the Executive Committee of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. He studies music and dance in central Cameroon and in North American Indigenous communities. He is the author of Musical Intimacies and Indigenous Imaginaries (Oxford University Press, 2013) and the co-editor, with Martin Clayton and Laura Leante, of Experience and Meaning in Musical Performance (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Essele Essele Kisito is an anthropologist and ethnomusicologist who specialises in Fang, Beti and Bulu musics of Cameroun, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. He is Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Management at the Catholic University of Central Africa, Yaoundé Catholic Institute (Cameroon); Research Fellow at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (France); and a member of the Diversity and Cultural Evolution team in the Eco-Anthropology Laboratory at the Musée de l’homme (France).

UCD School of Music

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