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East meets West and music meets science: two major ERC grants in the Arts


A tanbur, a long-necked plucked string instrument hailing from Ottoman times

17 March 2015

Researchers in the School of Arts have been awarded almost 3.5 million Euros from the European Research Council (ERC) for two innovative music projects.

Dr Michael Ellison in the Department of Music has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant worth 2 million Euros for a project entitled ‘Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting an Evolving Transcultural Musical Practice’. The project centres on practical workshops that aim to integrate Turkish instruments and voices with a Western contemporary music ensemble (Hezarfen), culminating in two chamber operas. The project also comprises an ethnography strand that probes cross-cultural interaction taking place during the workshops, and a theoretical element that offers new approaches to conceiving tuning and timbre.

Dr David Trippett, also in the Department of Music, has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant worth 1.496 million Euros for ‘Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century’. This project will examine how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism. It aims to articulate several key ways in which music and the sonic imagination became intrinsic to scientific thinking, and how new modes of listening emerged in response to technological innovation (from steam trains to stethoscopes). It will also create 3D digital simulations of lost historical soundscapes from the 19th century. 

Both projects will start in September 2015.

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