Daily Archives: November 8, 2015

Alumni News – A Letter from Andrew Pace (BMus 2010, MA 2011)

Having just completed my PhD at the University of Manchester (quite literally – my viva was only a few days ago!) and finding myself back in London, I thought I’d get back in contact with my previous supervisor Laudan Nooshin of the Music Department at City University. Revisiting the department in which I had spent my undergraduate and MA years reminded me how much my time at City had shaped what I’ve been doing since. Not only did I find the BMus degree itself stimulating with its broad range of elective modules, but the teaching staff had always encouraged me to ‘do my own thing’ and follow lines of research that interested me.

For example, whilst studying for my MA I began to volunteer at the British Library – just a few stops away on the bus – after Laudan had introduced me to the World and Traditional Music section there. I ended up working on a project with them over the next three years arranging and cataloguing a large collection of British and Irish folk music, a portion of which has subsequently been published on Topic Records’ rebooted ‘The Voice of the People’ CD series. I’m still not sure quite how this project related to an MA in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music studies, but the experience proved extremely valuable to my career path!

After graduating from City with an MA in 2011 I went to the University of Manchester to study for a PhD in Maltese traditional music, a topic I’d been working on since my undergraduate dissertation. Over the following four years I spent time in Malta and Australia researching the traditional guitar music known as prejjem. My thesis examined many aspects of how prejjem is transmitted: how the tradition is learned, how melodic improvisations are considered as a canon, how performances spaces affect what is performed, how guitars are encoded with histories and biographies, what role audiovisual recordings have played in transmitting stylistic schools and in facilitating communication between home and diaspora. A great thing about ethnomusicology is how it encourages an interdisciplinary approach to a topic – archaeology, anthropology, education, art and aesthetics, science and technology studies, and education studies are all fair game to draw upon as much as musicology.

Now that I’ve completed my PhD, I’m currently in the process of arranging a postdoctoral position in which I will be developing an audiovisual archive of traditional music in Malta, drawing upon private collections that are held in Malta, Australia, Canada and the USA. I’ll be exploring the ways in which such an archive can disseminate its holdings on a variety of online and offline platforms in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. At the moment I’m working on a number of small projects related to this, including one for the M3P foundation (Malta Music Memory Project) based at the University of Hull, and preparing papers for a number of conferences coming up in the new year in the UK and Europe.


Andy with Crispin Attard (luthier, left) and Kalċidon Vella (prim kitarrist, right)  in Crispin's workshop

Andy with Crispin Attard (luthier, left) and Kalċidon Vella (prim kitarrist, right) in Crispin’s workshop