Rachael Durkin

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD candidates in any of the following areas: history of musical instruments (organology); music and literature studies / word and music studies; cultural history of music; music education

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Personal profile

Biography

Following my undergraduate degree in music, I was awarded my PhD from The University of Edinburgh in 2015. Having previously lectured at The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University, I joined Northumbria in 2019 as one of the founding members of Music where I lead the performance and pedagogical strands of the Foundation and Music BA(Hons) programmes. My research focuses on the history of musical instruments from the angles of musicology/organology studies and material culture studies, and music-making. Current areas of interest include the life and legacy Charles Clagget (1733–1796); the rise and demise of the Georgian assembly rooms; the work of author-musician William Crawford Honeyman; and wider consideration of musical instruments in literature.  

Research interests

My research focuses on the history of musical instruments (organology) and music-making. I am the author of the first scholarly study of the viola d’amore (Routledge, 2020), and lead editor of The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature (Routledge, 2021).

My research is divided into three distinct strands. The first concerns the history of musical instruments (known as organology), particularly string instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries. My monograph, The Viola d’Amore: Its History and Development, is the first scholarly study of the once-popular baroque instrument. The research for the book has led to further publications concerning related instruments such as the baryton, pochette, and bowed psaltery. I am now studying the life and legacy of Charles Clagget: musician, dancing-master, and musical instrument inventor and improver of the late 18th century.

The second strand of my research looks at the use of musical instruments in concerts of the 18th century in Britain and Ireland, and how the instruments can be used as a fruitful way to trace the networks of musicians and the movement of their music. This research forms the foundations of a larger project questioning the rise and demise of the Georgian assembly rooms, of which music and dance played key roles in the sustainability of these commercial enterprises. 

The third strand approaches musical instruments through literature. I have published on the violin in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and in doing so identified Doyle’s inspiration in the stories of Dundee-based author-musician William Crawford Honeyman, and I am presently researching the life and work of Honeyman. I also have work in progress concerning the player piano in the final work of William Gaddis, and how this can be critiqued through the lens of Adornean late style. I am the lead editor of the forthcoming The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature, coedited by Peter Dayan, Axel Englund, and Katharina Clausius.

 

 

Further Information

I am on the board of trustees for the Hebrides Ensemble, and the strategic board for Music Partnerships North. I work closely with Trinity College London, the ISM, and the music hubs in and around the North East of England to exchange expertise, and bring in professional knowledge to the vocational strands of the Music Foundation Year and Music BA (Hons).

Education/Academic qualification

Philosophy, PhD, University of Edinburgh

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