Category Archives: Music Studies

‘Loading the Silence’ is joint winner of the Rebecca Coyle Prize

Posted by Maxine Cook, Marketing Assistant

Loading the silenceMany congratulations to Linda Ioanna Kouvaras, whose title, Loading the Silence: Australian Sound Art in the Post-Digital Age, has been awarded joint winner of the 2014 Rebecca Coyle Prize. This year the judges decided there were two titles worthy of the prize, resulting in a second 2014 publication prize being awarded to Loading the Silence. The panel described Loading the Silence as “a highly accomplished piece of scholarship – extensive, rich, complex, well written, and thorough.”

The prize is awarded annually, by the IASPM ANZ, to the best paper on popular music in Australasia. The prize is named in honour of long time IASPM ANZ member, Rebecca Coyle, to commemorate her work advancing popular music studies and mentoring emerging academic talent.

The book has previously received high praise in reviews:

“… Kouvaras has created a reference of vital importance, a book of international significance that is likely to be considered a seminal work in the study of sound art.”   Music Forum

“In Loading the Silence Linda Kouvaras does a real favour for those seeking to learn about and from the political sonicities of the avant garde of the 1970s and since. That she does so in the context of Australian musical practices makes the stories she tells all the more fascinating for those of us regrettably less familiar with that continent’s (sometimes “un-Australian”) experimentality. Refreshingly, Kouvaras’s critical curiosity embraces musical practices and places: the leaky sounds and voicings of women’s bodies, the hospital, the unwatery landscape itself… A convincing critical compendium is the result.”   George McKay, University of Salford, UK

Dr Linda Kouvaras is a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Lucy Green’s “Music, Informal Learning and the School: A New Classroom Pedagogy”

‘If you want to teach popular music in schools then find out how successful popular musicians learn and apply these methods in the classroom. This blindingly simple insight has eluded much pedagogic practice to date. By innovatively theorising, demonstrating, and assessing the practical implementation of this, Lucy Green may have provided a manifesto for rebalancing classroom music teaching and setting it on a new and more fruitful track.’   John Sloboda, FBA. Keele University. Author of The Musical Mind

Music informal learning and the schoolLucy Green’s pioneering book, Music, Informal Learning and the School, reveals how the music classroom can draw upon the world of popular musicians’ informal learning practices, so as to recognize and foster a range of musical skills and knowledge that have long been overlooked within music education.

It investigates how far informal learning practices are possible and desirable in a classroom context; how they can affect young teenagers’ musical skill and knowledge acquisition; and how they can change the ways students listen to, understand and appreciate music as critical listeners, not only in relation to what they already know, but beyond.

It examines students’ motivations towards music education, their autonomy as learners, and their capacity to work co-operatively in groups without instructional guidance from teachers.

It suggests how we can awaken students’ awareness of their own musicality, particularly those who might not otherwise be reached by music education, putting the potential for musical development and participation into their own hands.

Bringing informal learning practices into a school environment is challenging for teachers. It can appear to conflict with their views of professionalism, and may at times seem to run against official educational discourses, pedagogic methods and curricular requirements. But any conflict is more apparent than real, for this book shows how informal learning practices can introduce fresh, constructive ways for music teachers to understand and approach their work. It offers a critical pedagogy for music, not as mere theory, but as an analytical account of practices which have fundamentally influenced the perspectives of the teachers involved.

Through its grounded examples and discussions of alternative approaches to classroom work and classroom relations, the book reaches out beyond music to other curriculum subjects, and wider debates about pedagogy and curriculum.

‘… this is a very important music education book, not only challenging established views and prejudices of music teaching, but also demonstrating how teachers could act to make a difference and work for change. Reading this book is a must for every music educator, not necessarily with the aim of copying every detail of the project, but to relate to, reflect and act upon in his/her ongoing music teaching. This project is also a very good example of praxis-based research. The thick descriptions and the sharp, well-structured analyses offer a great amount of valuable knowledge to researchers as well as educators.’ Music Education Research

‘Viewed altogether, the Musical Futures initiative, the empirical authority and depth of this project, and finally this compelling and excellent book, make a major contribution to music education. Music, Informal Learning and the School should be on the reading list of everyone who believes in the power of music to transform the lives of young people everywhere.’ Classroom Music Magazine

‘… an important book that chronicles the realities of taking seriously the values and views of adolescents as to their music and the ways in which they prefer to know it better. It gives pause for putting into practice what has been discussed and debated for some time in music education, and in education at large, and paves the way for further developments in making music reasonable and relevant for students in secondary schools.’ British Journal of Music Education

‘Apart from the teaching strategies and learning approaches demonstrated by Green, there is much here that music educators can use. … Music, Informal Learning and the School opens a discourse about music education that can only benefit music education as a whole. Books such as this rarely appear. If you have any passion for music education, this one will be for immediate consumption. Agreement is not compulsory; entering into the debate is.’ Research Studies in Music Education

About the Author: Lucy Green is Professor of Music Education in The Institute of Education, University of London, UK.

What can teachers learn from popular musicians? Watch Lucy Green in conversation with doctoral student Flávia Narita on Youtube

Music and Material Culture – a call for proposals

We are pleased to invite proposals for a new series from Ashgate.

Music and Material Culture provides a platform for methodological innovations in research on the relationship between music and its objects.

In a sense, musicology has always dealt with material culture; the study of manuscripts, print sources, instruments and other physical media associated with the production and reception of music is central to its understanding. Recent scholarship within the humanities has increasingly shifted its focus onto the objects themselves and there is now a particular need for musicology to be part of this broader ‘material turn’.

A growing reliance on digital and online media as sources for the creation and consumption of music is changing the way we experience music by increasingly divorcing it from tangible matter. This is rejuvenating discussion of our relationship with music’s objects and the importance of such objects both as a means of understanding past cultures and negotiating current needs and social practices.

Broadly interdisciplinary in nature, this series seeks to examine critically the materiality of music and its artefacts as an explicit part of culture rather than simply an accepted means of music-making.

Proposals are welcomed on the material culture of music from any period and genre, particularly on topics within the fields of cultural theory, source studies, organology, ritual, anthropology, collecting, archiving, media archaeology, new media and aesthetics.

Guidelines for proposals can be found on our website

Please send proposals to Laura Macy (on topics before 1900) or Emma Gallon (on topics since 1900)

Richard Osborne talks to Laura Macy about the resurgence of interest in vinyl records (and his book)

Vinyl A History of the Analogue RecordThis month Ashgate is publishing a paperback edition of Richard Osborne’s highly successful Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record. Commissioning editor Laura Macy asked Richard about the book and his interest in this enduring form of music production.

In the preface to the forthcoming paperback you say ‘In 2013, sales of vinyl in the UK rose by 101.2 per cent. Around 780,000 LPs and EPs were sold, the highest tally for 16 years.’ What do you think has caused this resurgence?

What’s interesting is that it is not one single factor, one single audience, one single type of record or one type of music that is driving these sales. The return of vinyl is certainly a reaction to digital technologies. However, as I argue in the book, it is also a complement to them. Consumers are buying new records that give them access to the same tracks online; they are also purchasing vinyl over the internet. It is not just people who grew up with vinyl who are buying the format, but also those who were born after it was supposed to be superseded. It has become something of a cliché to report that many of the younger buyers do not own record players, but I don’t think that it follows that they don’t know how one works or that they’re not actually hearing the records that they have bought. When I first started investigating this subject – a project that began ten years ago – it was sales of 7″ singles that were on the rise, but latterly it has been the LP that has witnessed the greatest growth in sales. Formerly, many of the big LP sales were amongst back catalogue releases, particularly in America, where the Beatles’ Abbey Road regularly topped the annual vinyl charts. These LP charts, in both Britain and America, are now dominated by new releases. Many of these are by ‘indie’ bands and are on indie labels, but the renaissance isn’t confined to this type of music. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the appeal of vinyl is multiple, and that while the format is subject to nostalgia, there remains something contemporary about it.

Do you think there is more than a ‘collectibles’ aesthetic behind current vinyl sales?

There’s certainly a collectibles aspect when it comes to Record Store Day, an event that has grown so big that it is now suffering from a backlash. There are those in the vinyl community who oppose the ‘readymade’ collectibles that Record Store Day specializes in (for this year’s event there were over 650 new releases, which were made available in independent record shops for one day only). Somewhere inside most vinyl fans resides the argument that this is the format that makes music sound its best. However, most of them also know that they obsess about the object at least as much as they do about the music that it contains. Georges Bataille once wrote that ‘No collector could ever love a work of art as much as a fetishist loves a shoe’. One of the dilemmas that vinyl addicts wrestle with is whether they are collectors, who adore music, or whether they are fetishists, who have become consumed with passion for a ‘thing’. And of course, this ‘thing’ called vinyl is not only adored because it is the basis of an ever-growing collection, it is also adored because of the way it looks, feels and behaves.

When I was little I had a babysitter who used to arrive for her babysitting with a box of 78s – rather bigger than an ipod and she still needed to use our stereo system to play them. Do you want to comment on the changing material culture of popular music listening?

I am interested in continuities, as well as differences. The iPod clearly represented a sea-change in the amount of ‘owned’ music that people were able to carry with them. It did, however, build upon the listening cultures of the Walkman, as well as the radio, whose influence sometimes gets ignored. Radio made music portable long before the Walkman did (in my own case, it provided my first experience of listening with a headphone – not headphones – outdoors), and it also made a lot of music available. It’s also notable that people have tried to make their download and streaming listening more akin to radio listening. On the one hand, they randomise tracks by using shuffle modes, thus receiving music passively as you would when listening to the radio. On the other hand, they organise it into playlists, thus putting themselves in the position of the radio DJ. Another continuity is that people have way more music than they actually need. The difference is that this has been multiplied. I haven’t got a vast record collection, but many of the discs that are in it have lain dormant for years. These wasted records are now accompanied by the thousands of tracks I have on iTunes that have never or rarely been played. I still think that most of us only have a few key records. The continuity of BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ programme would appear to support this idea. The show still has the same format as when it started, back in the era of the 78rpm disc. Although people could now be stranded with an iPod full of tunes, the castaways on ‘Desert Island Discs’ find nothing wrong with focusing their lives around eight individual records. They don’t even mention the b-sides!

More information about Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record

SOAS Musicology series – a call for proposals

Posted by Emma Gallon, Assistant Editor

Ashgate was delighted to attend the recent Society for Ethnomusicology meeting in Indianapolis (13-17 November, 2013), where there was a lot of interest in the titles from our SOAS Musicology series on display. Here’s a little bit more about the series, including information on what we need from you if you would like to submit a book proposal:


The Editorial Board:

  • Professor Keith Howard (SOAS, University of London) (Chair)
  • Dr Peter Cooke (Research Fellow, SOAS, University of London)
  • Professor Giovanni Giuriati (La Sapienza, Roma)
  • Dr John Morgan O’Connell (University of Cardiff)
  • Professor Helen Rees (UCLA)
  • Professor Richard Widdess (SOAS, University of London)

About the series:

Music is cherished by every society in the world.  Music is, like language, a universal means of individual and cultural expression. It is also infinitely varied. Music in any society has intrinsic value in its own right, and can tell us much about the culture in which it developed. The core of the SOAS Musicology series comprises studies of different musics, analysed in the contexts of the societies of which they are part, and exploring repertories, performance practice, musical instruments, and the roles and impacts of individual composers and performers. The SOAS Musicology Series includes studies that integrate music with dance, theatre and the visual arts, and contextualized studies of music within the Western art canon. The series reflects a broad musicology, as much as the discipline of ethnomusicology.

The editors recognize the value of interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Volumes may utilize methodologies developed in anthropology, sociology, linguistics and psychology to explore music; they may seek to create a dialogue between scholars and musicians; or they may primarily be concerned with the evaluation of historical documentation. Monographs that explore contemporary and popular musics, the effect of globalization on musical production, or the comparison of different music cultures are also welcomed.

Keith Howard explains the background to the series:

“It’s a big world out there. The SOAS Musicology Series opens the curtain, just a little, on some of the many fascinating and diverse, beautiful and ethereal musical traditions of the world, and on the brilliant musicians, past and present, who champion those traditions.

I personally began my career as a musician, music teacher and composer in Britain, but began to explore what we now term ‘ethnomusicology’ – the study of the world’s music cultures – to discover more about why we human beings want music. Having discovered that music is cherished by every society in the world, I wondered why the dominant understandings of music (in teaching, composition, performance theory, music therapy, and so on) tended to focus on Western classical and pop musics… I have since researched (and sometimes performed) great music in Korea, Thailand, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Siberia.

Recognising the need to make research on world music more available, I approached Ashgate in 1999 to see if they would publish a major series. I wrote a chapter in the very first book in the series, Indigenous Religious Musics, and have since contributed a chapter to the important book on the ethnomusicologist and anthropologist John Blacking, The Musical Human (Blacking was the supervisor of my PhD), edited two books, Zimbabwean Mbira Music on an International Stage and Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage, and written three more, Perspectives of Korean Music 1 and 2, and, with Chaesuk Lee and Nicholas Casswell, Korean Kayagum Sanjo. Now, but not because of my own contributions, I can confidently say that Ashgate’s SOAS Musicology Series is the leading world music/ethnomusicology series in the world.”

More about SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies:

SOAS, University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. Uniquely combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus, it has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


Proposals for the SOAS Musicology Series should include: a statement of aims and rationale of the book, a synopsis of the project and chapter outline, a concise CV and a sample chapter.

Please send a copy of your proposal to:

Laura Macy, Senior Commissioning Editor, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Wey Court East, Union Road, Farnham, Surrey   GU9 7PT

Recent titles in the SOAS Musicology series include:

Dāphā: Sacred Singing in a South Asian City (Richard Widdess, SOAS)

Brass Bands of the World: Militarism, Colonial Legacies, and Local Music Making (Suzel Ana Reily, Queen’s University Belfast and Katherine Brucher, DePaul University)

Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music (1923–1938) (John Morgan O’Connell, Cardiff University)

Hwang Byungki: Traditional Music and the Contemporary Composer in the Republic of Korea (Andrew Killick, University of Sheffield)

Music, Modernity and Locality in Prewar Japan: Osaka and Beyond (Hugh de Ferranti and Alison Tokita)

And We’re All Brothers: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary North America (Abigail Wood, SOAS, University of London)

Icelandic Men and Me (Robert Faulkner, University of Western Australia)

Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record – one of the best and most engaging books on phonography and/or recording formats in recent years

‘…this book is actually one of the best and most engaging books on phonography and/or recording formats in recent years.’ 2013 IASPM Book Prize Jury

‘Hats off to the excellent Richard Osborne for producing a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable romp through the musical history of polyvinyl chloride… The author has produced a valuable collection of sound bites and snapshots of what the 20th century sounded like.’ Times Higher Education

‘… a well-written and thoroughly engaging précis of vinyl’s journey from its origins to its constantly shifting presence throughout the 20th Century.’ Record Collector

‘… Richard Osborne has just released the most perfect book: a history of vinyl that does not neglect aesthetic or interpretative considerations, but focuses also on hard facts, and pays attention to technology, and economics… Osborne’s book proves a fascinating and essential read, and an elegant one at that.’ InMedia

OSBORNE JKT(240X159)Richard Osborne traces the evolution of the vinyl record from its roots in the first sound recording experiments, to its survival in the world of digital technologies. His book addresses the record’s relationship with music: how the analogue record was shaped by, and helped to shape, the music of the twentieth century. It also looks at the cult of vinyl records. Why are users so passionate about this format? Why has it become the subject of artworks and advertisements? Why are vinyl records still being produced?

Of all recording formats, it is the vinyl record that has had the most profound effect on the production and consumption of popular music; vinyl has also had the longest-lasting and deepest appeal. This book explores its subject using a distinctive approach: the author takes the vinyl record apart and historicizes its construction. Each chapter explores a different element and brings a fresh perspective to each of the themes: the groove, the disc shape, the label, vinyl itself, the album, the single, the B-side and the 12″ single, the sleeve.

About the Author: Richard Osborne is the programme leader for the popular music degrees at Middlesex University. He has published work on the themes of music technology, minstrelsy, alarms, Indian film and The Fall.

More about Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record

Music Makes a Difference

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

If you are interested in exploring the relationship between music and wellbeing you will be excited to discover Music Asylums: Wellbeing Through Music in Everyday Life by Tia DeNora. Becoming available September 28, Music Asylums is the first book published in our new music series Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives, a cross-disciplinary series aiming to explore the question of how, where and when music makes a difference.

Here are some thoughts from one enthusiastic reader:Gortner

“…beautifully written…this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the relationship between music, health and wellbeing. It offers a wealth of new insights and is both accessible and meticulously thought out. I loved it!”   Raymond MacDonald, University of Edinburgh

About the author: Tia DeNora is Professor of Sociology of Music, in Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at Exeter University. She is the author of Music-in-Action, Music in Everyday Life, After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology and Beethoven and the Construction of Genius. She directs the SocArts Research Group at Exeter.