Topic outline

  • The Sir John Manduell Research Forum Series, Forman Lecture Theatre

    Conservatoire: a place for musicians who think about what they do

    Almost every week in term-time, you can take a break from your rehearsals, practice, teaching, administration, research activities or whatever else you are up to, and come along for some refreshing mental stimulation, hopefully in an area of musical activity that you may not yet be that familiar with. The Research Forum programme brings a mixture of members of RNCM staff and guest speakers from around the world to make a presentation on some aspect of their work – whether it’s musicological, creative, educational, music-psychological or other kinds of research (by which we mean 'all kinds of thought and reflection that musicians do about what they do as musicians'). The talk lasts about 45 minutes and then the floor is open for questions, discussion, and, if you’re lucky, the odd bit of (strictly intellectual) fisticuffs. Discussions continue afterwards in the bar and usually the hard core move onto supper nearby. See below for this term’s programme and, especially, the sheer diversity of topics that will be covered and the range of presenters: all that is needed to make it work is YOU! Looking forward to seeing you as often as you can make it.

  • Research Forum 2017-18

    Wednesday 11 October 2017 4:15pm

    Dr Fabrice Fitch (RNCM)

    Constructing Canons: Compositional Process and Ockeghem's Prolation Mass.

    Ockeghem's Missa Prolationum is something of a holy grail of early music analysis. Composed in the mid-15th century, it is written in double canon throughout, with the canonic interval growing from unison to octave over the course of the entire work. In this lecture, I will present the work and the compositional and analytical challenges it poses. My analysis seeks to trace the compositional process, focusing in particular on the movement that sets these challenges in their most acute form. 


    Wednesday 18 October 2017 4:15pm

    Professor Denis Herlin (CNRS, IReMUS)

    FORUM PLUS - Michael Kennedy International Research Lecture.

    Professor Denis Herlin, RNCM International Chair in Musicology, sheds new light on Debussy’s early songs, followed by a short recital featuring RNCM performers.


    Wednesday 1 November 2017 4:15pm

    Professor David Owen Norris (University of Southampton, Royal College of Music, RNCM)

    The Severity of Time: How nineteenth-century composers used dynamic markings to indicate rubato in piano music.

    ‘The Severity of Time’ is a quotation from Muzio Clementi’s instruction book of 1801:

    “CON ESPRESSIONE or CON ANIMA, with expression; that is, with passionate feeling; where every note has its peculiar force and energy; and where even the severity of time may be relaxed for extraordinary effects.”

    Clementi, the foremost virtuoso pianist-composer of his day, thus indicated that one way of playing extraordinarily expressively is to vary the time.

    Did composers find ways to notate this ‘extraordinary’ resource, or were they just content to leave it to the performer? David Owen Norris will sift through music by Clementi, Beethoven, Mendelssohhn, Schumann, and even Elgar to reconstruct a forgotten system of notating rubato.


    Wednesday 15 November 2017 5pm Carole Nash Recital Room.

    Gavin Wayte and Rob Buckland (RNCM)

    FORUM PLUS - New Music North West: Who’s Driving

    RNCM lecturer and composer Gavin Wayte and Head of Saxophone & Deputy Head of Chamber Music Rob Buckland introduce early experiments towards a new collaboration which brings together composition, improvisation and interactive electronics and video animation. 


    Wednesday 22 November 2017 4:15pm

    Professor Barbara Kelly (RNCM)

    Accenting the French Connections: Debussy’s homage to Chopin

    Debussy had a lifelong admiration for Chopin.  Experts have observed the synergies between Debussy’s distinctive piano writing and Chopin’s style and have located that influence particularly in the late Etudes (1916), which are dedicated to Chopin.  Mention is frequently made to the fact that Debussy edited Chopin’s music for Durand’s Edition Classique as he was working on his own Etudes.  However, few people have actually looked at Debussy’s editions in detail to see who his models were and to what extent he followed any particular existing source rather than simply relying on his outspoken comments in his letters.  Debussy knew and admired prominent performers of Chopin, in particular, the Polish Ignaz Friedman, and French performers such as Alfred Cortot and Robert Casadesus.  The presentation will consider Debussy’s ‘reading’ of Chopin as an editor, performer and composer and the extent to which his own ‘French’ sensibility and ‘accent’ is evident in his editions.


    Wednesday 29 November 2017 4:15pm

    Dr David Horne and Dr Simon Clarke (RNCM)

    The Virtuosity of Failure

    This presentation, with performance, combines our respective specialisms of artistic research into performance and critical theory. Building on recent research, as presented in Graz and Budapest, virtuosity is addressed from related perspectives, namely the nature of the technical prowess of performers as exploited by composers, and the semiotic implications of intellection itself (where demonstrated). Our work is derived from a longstanding project centred on our ensemble, Vulgar Display - indeed, interrogating virtuosity as a topos was its primary goal from the outset - and thus discourse on virtuosity quickly becomes discourse as virtuosity, with all its reflexive implications.


    Wednesday 6 December 2017 4:15pm

    Dr Liesl van der Merwe (North-West University, South Africa) and Dr John Habron (RNCM)

    The Dalcroze Diamond: A theory of spirituality in Dalcroze Eurhythmics

    In this presentation, we present the results of a five-year collaboration that has generated a theory of spirituality in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. In the first part, we narrate and reflect on our working process on four qualitative research studies: two literature-based (A conceptual model of spirituality in music education & A conceptual study of spirituality in selected writings of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze) and two data-based (Exploring lived experiences of spirituality amongst five Dalcroze teachers: an IPA & Stories students tell about their lived experiences of spirituality in the Dalcroze class).

    In the second part, we present a conceptual study generated by emergent themes prevalent in all four studies. Since the theory of Dalcroze and spirituality is multifaceted we use a diamond-shaped figure to show our findings. With this theory, we hope to create a heightened awareness of the spiritual potential in the Dalcroze class and communicate the pedagogical thoughtfulness and tact required when teaching using the Dalcroze approach.

     Dr Liesl van der Merwe lecture video


    Friday 8 December 2017 6pm

    Dr Clair Rowden (Cardiff University) and Professor Richard Langham Smith (Royal College of Music)

    FORUM PLUS - Re-Fitting the Slipper: Massenet’s slant on an age-old story.

    Massenet and his librettist Henri Cain adapted Perrault’s fairytale of the wicked stepmother, the ugly sisters, Prince Charming (a pantomime-like travesty role), and a magical fairy godmother for the audience of the Opéra-Comique in 1898 who were wowed by a beautiful production full of special effects. A traditional tale of jealousy, duty, devotion, love and sexual  awakening retold through Massenet’s enchanting mix of musical styles. 

    Dr Clair Rowden and Professor Richard Langham Smith video


    Wednesday 13 December 2017 4:15pm

    Dr Larry Goves (RNCM)

    Projecting Text: the sonic and visual

    This presentation is a reflection on some recent and current compositional work which employs text as notation and/or uses projected text in performance. These pieces include: Extracts from South Korea and Japan 2002 (2015) for flute and projected text; The book of Matthew (2016) for four instruments and projected text; Air pressure (2017) for prepared closed-hole flute and; a work in progress for two saxophones and electronic sound. Drawing on these pieces and a range of relevant literature I am considering how to address questions relating to voice, meaning and immersion/perspective/distancing and how I might further develop this compositional approach.

    These ideas and pieces draw on a diverse range of influences including: music and text by Yannis Kyriakides; action and visual work by artists including Jenny Holzer and Bruce Nauman and; interactional linguistics (in particular the notion of ‘lexical affiliates’ developed by sociologist Emanuel Schegloff).

     Dr Larry Goves lecture video 

    • Topic 2

      Research Forum 2015-16

    • Research Forum 2011-2012 Archive

    • Topic 4

      Research Forum 2014-15


    • Research Forum 2013-14 videos

      RNCM Research Forum 2013-14

    • Programme for the Research Forum Autumn Term 2013

      RNCM Research Forum 2013-2014

      5.15-6.45 Lecture Theatre (2013)

      Wednesday 2 October


      Dr David Horne



      Virtuosic Instruments

      Performers often discover that even challenging pieces may be idiomatically written for the instrument or voice. But equally, does the nature of the medium inspire musical ideas? And if so, can investigation inform performance? This presentation considers a number of works from various historical periods, with performed illustrations.

      Wednesday 9 October

      Dr Laura Tunbridge

      (University of Manchester)

      Electric Schubert, 1928 


      The celebrations surrounding the 1928 centenary of Schubert’s death were a significant turning point for the composer's reputation and for the performance and interpretation of classical song. Countless articles were written and dozens of recordings produced, encouraging new, more attentive modes of listening as well as a gradual change in performance styles. 

      Wednesday 16 October

      Professor Justin London, (Carleton College, Minnesota)

      Really Bad Music: Musical and Moral Mistakes

      There are perhaps three kinds of bad music: music that makes you cringe, music that makes you laugh, and music that makes you angry.  This talk will sort out the differences between these musical vices, and thus the reasons for our various reactions.

      Friday 18 October
      (10.00-1.00pm: Carole Nash Recital Room)

      Daryl  Buckley (Director, Elision contemporary music ensemble); Prof. Richard Wistreich; RNCM Masters students

      Doing Music Research: why, what, how

      A study morning for all students taking the MMus course, ‘Music Research in Practice’, and for any member of academic staff interested in getting started in research related to their practice. There will be a series of presentations, including some by RNCM Masters students, and time for discussion.

      Wednesday 23 October

      Professor Ross Duffin (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland)

      How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)

      Intonation has a default system, equal temperament, which is thought to have a kind of Darwinian authority. This has made it easy to ignore historical and musical evidence that equal temperament is not what composers from Bach to Debussy used, either for keyboards, other instruments or voices.

      Wednesday 30 October

      2.30 pm

      Stephen Preston (RNCM)

      Sounding Aporia: navigating via historical impossibility to a new sonic world. 


      It is impossible to play historical music as it was played at the time of its composition two or three hundred years ago, to know about the “authenticity” of historically-informed period instrument performance or that it fulfils composers’ “original intentions” - yet these impossibilities create richly fertile possibilities for both performer and composer.

      Wednesday 13 November

      Dr Freya Bailes (University of Hull)

      Perceptions of leadership in duo keyboard improvisations

      In this study, keyboard improvisers performed a series of duo improvisations and then individually listened back to their performances; they rated which of the two improvisers they felt was most influencing the musical progression. These ratings are compared with an analysis of the music, and measures of physiological and perceived emotion.

      Wednesday 20 November

      Dr Lois Fitch (RNCM)


      Brian Ferneyhough at 70


      To coincide with the year of Brian Ferneyhough’s 70th birthday, Lois Fitch has written the first monograph in English on the composer, his life and music. In this brief presentation, Lois introduces the book, in particular the subject of Ferneyhough’s unpublished juvenilia, which are discussed in the book for the first time.


      Richie Craig will provide a short concert, performing Ferneyhough's Cassandra's Dream Song (flute solo) and Fabrice Fitch's Agricola IXd: Je Nay Dueil.

      Wednesday 27 November

      Dr Martin Suckling (University of York)

      Travels in a Quartertonal Country: Composition, Research, and the Magic of Microtones

      A discussion of research processes in composition focusing on the challenges and opportunities offered by landscapes outside the 12-tone grid.  On idealism and pragmatism, theory and practice, old ideas and new technologies."


      Wednesday 4 December

      Cheryll Duncan (RNCM)

      Women on top: Geminiani v. Mrs Frederica

      and the case for legal documents in musicology

      Legal records have been almost totally neglected by musicologists, yet offer a rich and unique source of new material once the formidable obstacles to their use have been overcome. Documents generated by a recently discovered lawsuit involving the celebrated violinist and composer Francesco Geminiani provide a context for demonstrating how to access and interpret the material.


      Wednesday 11 December

      Dr Ben Winters (Open University)

      Hearing Film: Reflexive Concert Scenes and the Classical Hollywood Score

      This paper examines a number of scenes in Hollywood films of the 1940s—including Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) and Deception (Irving Rapper, 1946)—that, in featuring performed concert music, reflexively reveal aspects of musical underscore’s function in film narrative. A new music-centred ontology of film is proposed.


    • Research Forum Archive April-May 2013

      Post Graduate Research Student presentations

      Wednesday 24 April 2013              

      Jacob Thompson-Bell
      WRITING music – HEARING music – reVIEWING music. Reflections on discussing practice

      Rachel Johnson
      Reading between the lines: Sir George Smart’s annotated programmes for the 1836 Manchester Musical Festival

      David Curington
      Modular Developmental Operators - a compositional technique which echoes the modularity inherent in the music of James Saunders and early Stockhausen

      Naomi Norton
      Instrumental and Vocal Teachers as Health Promotion Advocates

    • Topic 8

      • Research Forum Archive January-March 2013

        Gary Carpenter RNCM 

        9th January 2013

        The Listening Project: orchestral and verbatim conversations


        John Habron (Coventry University)

        16th January 2013

        Micro-analysing Lived Experience: notation and transcription in music therapy analysis


        Roger Hamilton, Stefan Janski & Antonio Tilli (RNCM) with cast and orchestra members

        23rd January 2013

        Performing Monteverdi’s Ulisse: reflecting on the RNCM production (December 2012) and its preparation

      • Research Forum 2012-2013 Archive

        Research Forum Archive October to December 2012

        Philip Thomas University of Huddersfield 

        10th October 2012

        Making Actions: toward a performance practice of experimental music.