Programme 2018-19

About the Song Seminar

The Song Seminar is run by the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Song Group, a network of researchers from a range of disciplines, including English, Music, Modern and Medieval Languages, Philosophy, Theology, History, and Classics. We are all of us, in our different ways, interested in songs – what they are, how they work, how they are used. Our regular lunchtime seminar fosters cross-disciplinary conversations about songs – their forms, functions, relations, histories – and about the poets, composers, songwriters, and performers who make them. We consider songs of all periods and traditions, and try to feature live performances when we can. See below for a list of past events, and watch this space for upcoming sessions. If you’d like to hear about the seminar programme and to receive materials (texts, scores, links to recordings), please join our email list by clicking here and following the instructions.

Upcoming sessions

All meetings of the seminar are on Wednesdays, 12.30-2 pm in Emmanuel College

22 May 2019 (Old Library)
Hippolyta Paulusma (UEA) – ‘”Invisible Music”: folk song performance and the prose of Angela Carter’
It is a little-known fact that the novelist Angela Carter was a folk singer, played the English concertina, and was founder with her first husband Paul Carter of a folk club in Bristol. Opening with details about the newly-discovered private archive of her folk song notes from the 1960s, including musical notations and a recording of her singing, I will be exploring possible new readings of Carter’s texts that emerge from this new understanding of her folk song praxis, in particular her folk song performance, suggesting that she buried folk song features into the structures of her writing. I will focus on two aspects (among many) of the ways in which her knowledge of song performance interferes with her writing — in her use of rhythmic dactyls to summon the dangerous locus of the folk song greenwood, and her channelling of the singing voice through the figure of the bird-woman. Texts for focused reading will be her short story ‘The Erl King’ and her novel Nights at the Circus. Finally I will discuss briefly how musicians working in the contemporary folk scene cite Carter as an influence, suggesting they are unearthing those musical elements she concealed in an onward trajectory of reciprocity between genres. Questions will be raised about the porous boundaries between literature and song, and the pedagogical possibilities of reimagining prose as performance.

https://www.facebook.com/HippolytaCMPaulusma
https://twitter.com/invisiblemusic4

seminar conveners: Corinna Russell and Gavin Alexander
song seminar ET19 poster
Past sessions

8 May 2019 – Kirsteen McCue (Glasgow): ‘The winding road of British Romantic National Song’ (with live performance of songs accompanied by David Hamilton)

13 March 2019 – Chloë Alaghband-Zadeh (Manchester): ‘Femininities in Circulation: Gender, Emotion and North Indian Semi-Classical Music’

20 February 2019 – Miranda Stanyon (KCL): ‘This is not a love song: Bodmer contra Minnesinger’

13 February 2019 – Helen Abbott (Birmingham): ‘Songs from Baudelaire: towards a thick description of poetry-as-song’ [abstract (pdf)]

28 November 2018 – Paul Hamilton (QMUL): ‘Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies

21 November 2018 – Naomi Weiss (Harvard): ‘Performance, Memory, and Affect: Animal Choruses in Archaic and Classical Greek Vase Painting’

24 October 2018Emma Dillon (KCL): ‘The Châtelain de Coucy and his song: A vous, amant, plus qu’a nulle autre gent‘ (with a performance by Gopal Kambo)

9 May 2018 – Micha Lazarus: ‘The English PetRAAWRK! Birdsong in an Elizabethan Madrigal’

25 April 2018 – Ewan Jones: ‘What entrainment can teach aesthetics’

21 February 2018 – Caroline Egan: ‘Aztec Baroque: the uses of Nahuatl in Sor Juana’s carols’

7 February 2018 – Heather Glen: ‘What happens to words in songs?’

23 November 2017 – Lucy Taylor (mezzo-soprano) and Jeremy Thurlow (piano) performing and discussing Baudelaire settings with Miranda Gill

8 November 2017 – Sean Curran: ‘Music writing and music history in a thirteenth-century song’

25 October 2017 – Discussion session: Katherine Bergeron, ‘A Bugle, A Bell, A Stroke of the Tongue: Rethinking Music in Modern French Verse’, Representations 86 (2004): 53–72

17 May 2017 – Rachel Adelstein on what we talk about when we talk about ‘a song’

3 May 2017 – Ross Cole: ‘Cannibal Song? Poetics and Personae in “Visions of Johanna” and “Diamonds & Rust”‘

8 March 2017 – Phyllis Weliver (Saint Louis): ‘Triangulated Criticism, Song, and Daniel Deronda

22 February 2017 – Simon Jackson and Simone Kotva: ‘Writing animal song: the case of Charles Butler’s “Melissomelos, or Bees’ Madrigall” (1624)

8 February 2017 – Ceri Owen and Corinna Russell on Vaughan Williams’s ‘Linden Lea: A Dorset Song’

23 November 2016 – Composers Jeremy Thurlow and Tim Watts in performance and conversation

9 November 2016 – Katharine Dell and Danielle Padley on the Psalms

26 October 2016 – Gavin Alexander and Edward Wickham on Dowland’s ‘In darkness let me dwell’