Clemson University Press have launched Studies in British Musical Cultures, a new series in partnership with the North American British Music Studies Association. We spoke to series editor Eric Saylor (Drake University) to learn more.
What is the aim or mission of the series?
Studies in British Musical Cultures will encompass the diverse array of subjects and perspectives within British musical studies. Whether the subject is medieval or contemporary, imperial or post-colonial, metropolitan or provincial, cultivated or vernacular, stylistic analysis or social history, the series aims to present contributions from all corners of the field. We are pleased to engage authors from around the globe and to showcase their contributions in both monographs and essay collections.
Could you give a background on the North American British Music Studies Association?
NABMSA was founded in 2003–04 by a handful of younger British music scholars active in the United States. The founders had most come into contact with each other as graduate students presenting at national meetings of the American Musicological Society or at conferences in the UK (although there had been a handful of more senior figures plowing their own relatively lonely furrows since the 1970s).
We had our first national meeting at Oberlin College in 2004, and have continued with international meetings every two years since throughout the United States and Canada. Our members not only come from those nations, but from the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. We boast an extraordinarily fruitful and varied community of scholars working on everything from source studies and biographies to topics in popular music, imperial and post-colonial studies, and hermeneutics, among many others. It is, for me, the most engaged, supportive, hospitable, and interesting professional organization to which I have ever belonged.
What exciting work is happening in British music and culture scholarship?
A huge range of subjects are currently being explored, in no small part because topics in British music had long been dismissed as a marginal or uninteresting by much of the larger musicological community outside of Britain. In fact, the opposite is true. The British Isles and its colonial diaspora have a long and distinguished musical history, rich in innovation, transformation, and accomplishment, and the work of scholars affiliated with NABMSA has gone a long way toward bringing that to light.
For much of the group’s history, the primary focus has been on topics in nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, particularly those affiliated with what used to be known as the “English Musical Renaissance,” a term that many of our members and affiliates have done much to explore, expand, contextualize, and even debunk. So figures such as Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Frederick Delius, Gustav Holst, and many of their contemporaries received a great deal of members’ early attention. Yet we also had pioneering figures like Nicholas Temperley literally writing the books on Anglican psalmody and the social significance of John Playford’s music, or Ellen Harris’s brilliant work on Handel, that provided models for how such studies could could be extended into the past, and of course we were the beneficiaries of outstanding positivistic work from British-edited critical series such as Musica Britannica.
Today, our members conduct work on such diverse topics as how the BBC has shaped Britain’s musical culture, performance and music educational history in colonial Antigua, operatic culture in nineteenth-century London, musical practices in Restoration-era theatre productions, and the rise of high modernism in the post-war period, among many, many others, so we are very excited to be able to cast a wide net with this series.
What will you look for in a proposal for the series and how do you see it developing?
Our aim is to attract the most interesting, rigorous, and thoughtful scholarship on British music possible, regardless of its focus, which we hope will attract many potential contributors. It would be wonderful to see some work in underrepresented areas of British music scholarship, such as popular music, the histories of and works by musicians of colour, medieval music, or British musical diasporas, but we are of course happy to consider more traditional biographical, interpretive, performance, stylistic, or source studies as well.
Further information on the series, including the proposal submission process, can be found here.