Identity and Locality in Early European Music, 1028–1740

In the next few posts I will be playing catch up as I post a few comments on my recent publications and activities. My first edited book Identity and Locality in Early European Music, 1028–1740 was published at the end of 2009 by Ashgate Publishing in the UK.

The story behind this collection of essays by 10 musicologists goes back to 2006 when I convened with Dr Rex Eakins a National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia here in Armidale. The title of this conference was “Music as Local Tradition and Regional Practice”, a theme which was sufficiently broad enough to ensure excellent participation across many music research areas including historical musicology and also ethnomusicology (and there were some fantastic papers given by ethnomusicology friends and colleagues). Whether it was good fortune or good planning I shall never know but the conference was graced by one of the best turnouts of early music researchers for many years at an Australian conference. Part of the success in this quarter lay with the fact that I had managed to invite Professor James Grier to give a keynote paper on Adémar de Chabannes at the conference. In addition to this, we had convinced university administrators that the annual Gordon Athol Anderson Music Lecture should be held in conjunction with the conference, to which we invited the eminent Professor Reinhard Strohm (Oxford University). We also managed to budget for two other keynotes, one by the leading scholar of Japanese music history, Professor Stephen Nelson, and another by Australian expert on Aboriginal music, Dr Linda Barwick. All keynotes were truly memorable!

When the conference was over and I had time reflect on the early music papers, I realised that it would be worthwhile inviting participants to contribute to a published collection on early music arising from the conference. I wasn’t too happy with the idea of just publishing a conference proceedings and so decided that potential contributors would be invited to submit revised papers in the form of book chapters. In the original e-mail, I had written the following:

In terms of each contributor’s role in preparing their essays, the first principle is that you will have the opportunity to incorporate material and argument into the book-chapter version of your paper that perhaps could not be presented in the context of the conference.

As anyone who has been to a conference knows, 20-minute papers are brutal exercises in concision and steely resolve that often require presenters to cut out important details or sacrifice important side arguments in favour of getting the basics of their research across to the listener (who is unlikely to remember every detail anyway). Print, however, is an entirely different medium where details can be expounded to a greater degree and sources of information carefully footnoted.

Of the dozen or so invited contributors, 11 responded immediately in favourable terms and I set about finding a interested publisher. After several responses indicating preliminary interest in publishing the book, I secured a contract with Ashgate Publishing. Along the way one contributor withdrew due to pressures being placed upon him by his university’s tenure-track requirements (a situation not shared by other contributors) and another failed to meet the final deadline for submission. This is always part of the risk of publishing a collection but with 10 essays (including my own contribution) the book was still able to meet the terms of its contract with Ashgate.

After months of closely editing all chapters while maintaining full teaching duties (and trying the patience of many of my contributors with editorial enquires and recommendations), the completed typescript was sent off to Ashgate for a second peer review (the proposal had originally been subject to peer-review), a vital step in the preparation of a book for publication. After a quick rewrite of the introduction (to better frame the book conceptually), the book proceeded through the next stages of copyediting and typesetting very quickly. All along I was in constant contact with the wonderful people at Ashgate with last minute queries, including the usual dramas over images and music examples! The month or so between finalising the second proofs and printing at the end of November 2009 was the most drawn out part of the publishing process. A book launch was finally held May last year.

This book’s webpage on the Ashgate site can be found at If it takes your fancy, read my introduction to the collection there (warning: the first part is a bit philosophical and technical for non-academic readers; the second part summarises the contents of the volume so I won’t repeat that here) and view the table of contents and index (the last is the fine work of friend and colleague Catherine Jefferys who also contributed a highly original chapter on the reception of Aristotle’s Politics in discussions of music in early fourteenth-century Paris).

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