Major code: MUMR/MUPR
School of Music
The School of Music at the University of Liverpool is an exciting place to pursue postgraduate study in music. With our international reputation we attract students from all over the world, to our taught degrees and to a wide range of research programmes (MPhil and PhD).
Staff research interests
PROFESSOR SARA COHEN
Specialist in ethnographic research on popular music. Her most recent research has focused on music, place and identity; music and urban regeneration; music, landscape and environment. She is also the Director of the Institute of Popular Music, a former Editor for the journal Popular Music (Cambridge University Press), and a former General Secretary of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM).
R MATTHEW FAIRCLOUGH
Specialist in sound engineering and in studio-based audio and multi-media work, including original composition.
DR GILES HOOPER
Specialist in twentieth-century music, critical theory, and analysis. He is particularly interested in inter- or cross disciplinary approaches that seek to interpret music from a range of critical perspectives.
DR FREYA JARMAN-IVENS
Specialist in Anglo-American popular music, focusing on the voice as a site for the construction of meaning, both alongside and apart from lyrical content. Other interests include fin de siècle European opera. She is especially interested in queer theory and performativity, psychoanalytic theory, and discourses surrounding technology and musical production.
DR MICHAEL JONES
Specialist in the music industry and music policy with a particular interest in music industry education. Also a practising professional songwriter.
DR MARION LEONARD
Specialist in gender and the music industry; music and the media; music, museums and material culture. She was the Lead Curator of ‘The Beat Goes On’ exhibition at National Museums Liverpool (2008-9) and has acted as Membership Secretary and Treasurer for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM).
PROFESSOR MICHAEL SPITZER
Specialist in 18th- and 19th-century Western music from Bach to Mahler; particularly known for his writings on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Focuses on analytical methodologies past and present (including Koch, Riemann, Schenker, Schoenberg and Meyer), and on aesthetics (especially Adorno) and cognitive and psychological approaches (including metaphor theory and affective science/emotion).
DR ROBERT STRACHAN
Specialist in music history; music policy and urban regeneration; and issues related to sound and recording. Executive Editor of the journal Popular Music History (Continuum Press). Also a member of the Hive Collective (www.thehivecollective.co.uk) and an active laptop composer.
DR HAE-KYUNG UM
Specialist in anthropology and ethnomusicology. Her research areas include the classical, folk, and popular performing arts of Asia with a focus on tradition in modernity, intercultural performance and identity. Also a kayagûm zither player, samul nori percussionist and kagok singer.
MR JAMES WISHART
Composer, pianist, analyst, expert in many forms of contemporary music. Specialist research areas include: arrangement, transcription, and recomposition; new compositions for early instruments and 20th/21st-century music linked with politics.
Research interests in the body mechanics and physiology of instrumental technique, and also is currently involved in a joint research project with the School of Business and Management which seeks to use the skills and experiences of the “craft” of learning musical instruments to illuminate the processes of management. A 33 year professional career in many genres of music performance has also led to interests in aspects of creativity in performance, tunings and temperaments and period instrument construction and technique.
My PhD here has offered countless opportunities to develop skills outside of the university arena and these skills are invaluable.
What impelled you to continue to PG study?
Primarily a love of the subject fused with a desire to continue research in the area with the supervision of world-renowned scholars.
What compelled you to choose to study for your PG degree at Liverpool ahead of other Universities (particularly other Russell Group institutions)?
The University of Liverpool has the oldest Institute of Popular Music in the world, and so the University of Liverpool was undoubtedly my first choice. Also, I was offered a scholarship to fund my studies at the Institute, which made a great impact on my decision to study at Liverpool.
What are your career aims following your PG study and how do you anticipate your PG degree will help you achieve them?
I hope to continue researching and teaching, as my PhD in Liverpool has given me a great taster of both aspects of academic life.
What skills have you developed in addition to the knowledge you are learning on your programme?
My PhD here has offered countless opportunity to develop skills outside of the university arena. In my first year I was a participant in the AHRC (Arts and Humanaties Research Council) Culture Campus Liverpool HAPPEN (Humanities and Arts PhD Public Engagement Network) programme, which included an internship at FACT (Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology, Liverpool). This, as well as the support and opportunity to present my research at several conferences and symposia have led to the development of a wide range of academic and transferable skills.
How valuable do you consider these skills? Do you feel they will help you or even give you a competitive edge in your desired career path?
These skills are invaluable. In the current economic job market, it is clear that, even as PhD students, we must gain as much academic experience as possible, but also, to remain open to job possibilities outside of academic institutions – in my case, arts and digital technology bodies.
What was your route to PG study (did you proceed direct from your undergraduate degree or following some time away from University)?
I studied my undergraduate degrees and Masters at other institutions abroad, and worked for some time in between, before deciding to begin PhD study. Moving to the UK to start a three/four year course was not a decision I took lightly, but after a jam-packed first year here I’m confident I made the right decision.
Have you any recommendations or advice concerning the application process you’d like to share with prospective PG students thinking of applying?
If you think you’d like to study at Liverpool, find a member of staff you’d like to study with and write to them introducing yourself and your research interests. It’s good to establish a contact early on in the application process, and it also helps them to know who you are.
In layman’s terms, and as concisely as possible, could you please given an overview of your area of study and/or research?
My PhD research investigates complex issues surrounding the impact of digital participatory culture on contemporary society at large, focussing on digital music technology, viral video, participatory culture. Using a specific YouTube video that stands at the centre of several important 21st-century junctions, I’m researching popular music as a form of rehabilitation and/or punishment in a prison in the Philippines, which encompasses such areas as the influence of Web 2.0 on popular music culture practice and postcolonial theory.
How would you explain the significance and impact of your subject or research to others?
The relevance and importance of this study can be summarised in three key points:
- The viral growth of new media has so much potential to change society; therefore critical engagement with this development is absolutely necessary.
- New Media and the tradition of discipline and punishment, making links between YouTube as a platform for surveillance, and acting as a digital panopticon.
- My case study marks a milestone in popular music and participatory culture history, uniting issues surrounding the decline of the recording industry, the increase in user-generated and/or DIY musical events, pop music, postcolonial theory and globalisation.
What do you particularly like about your department?
I have nothing but praise for my department. I was made feel incredibly welcome, introduced to my fellow PG students and staff within the first month of arriving. All PhD students attend a weekly departmental reading group that serves educational and social purposes. Our department is lucky to have incredibly motivated staff and students who, besides being enormously talented musicians, organise regular social events, concerts on campus and in the Philharmonic Concert Hall across the road, gigs and DJ sets in town, and hosts of other activities. Liverpool, as a city, accommodates such occasions perfectly.
What do you especially like about your postgraduate experience at Liverpool in general?
As mentioned above, the combination of a fantastic department, plenty of opportunities to get out of the library too, and the fact that Liverpool is one of the most cost-effective cities to live in in Europe, makes my PG experience quite possibly the best I could’ve ever imagined.
How have you found the PG experience differs to the UG experience? What, if anything, do you prefer about PG study?
Independence; the fact that I am studying a topic that I have chosen and that I am incredibly passionate about; the ability to choose working hours that work best for you; the chance to gain part-time teaching experience if you wish, which gives you insight into the mechanics of life in academia; travelling to different universities to participate in conferences and meeting like-minded people along the way.