Topic outline

  • General

    The Sir John Manduell Research Forum Series, Forman Lecture Theatre 

    Please see for the 2016-17 programme. There is a pdf of the programme below.

    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.

  • Topic 1

    Research Forum 2015-16

  • Topic 2

    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 6

    • 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. 

    • Research Forum 2011-2012 Archive

    • Topic 10