Our PhD projects
My research project revolves around Saleh Al-Kuwaity, a Jewish Iraqi composer (1908-1986) who shared his career with his brother, oud player and singer Daud Al-Kuwaity. I explore his songs and his biography, in the context of cultural changes in the Middle East during the 1920s-1940s.
In her PhD project, Veronika Muchitsch examines the links between vocal sound in pop music and body politics. Following an interdisciplinary approach, the project combines theoretical and methodological concepts from the disciplines of musicology, post-structuralism, cultural and gender studies.
The voice is approached through its sonic characteristics and understood as inextricably bound to (human) bodies – both, in processes of production and perception of sounds. Consequently, vocal sounds are understood as sonic traces of inscribed (Foucault) body politics, which are in turn determined by specific ideologies. In her recent work on the vocal sound of Beyoncé, Veronika Muchitsch has examined links to post-feminist and neoliberal ideologies, which have been identified as structured by norms and exclusions along the dividing lines of sex, gender, ethnicity, class, age, dis/ability and other categories of identity in academic analyses across disciplines.
Given the hegemonic status of these ideologies in contemporary life, the PhD project studies ways of positioning oneself towards them through individual voices, and, ultimately, asks for their sonic transgressions.
Phonograph for the future: the idea and practice around the Swedish archival recordings 1896-1930
Along with recording technology developments around 1900 came a new way of storing sound.
Besides the novelty of the technique and commercial production of phonograms, recordings with documentary intentions were made to be preserved for the future. The dissertation project involves archival records in Sweden during the period 1896-about 1930, when the phonograph was the technique used for these purposes. The questions deal with matters of why people recorded the sound (especially music) in this purpose, what was recorded, by whom, and how it happened.
Julia Schlichtina Björklund
The Russian Good Friday Mass in a historical perspective
The Russian Good Friday Mass can be traced back to the Byzantine liturgy, and its early Christian roots. It shall in the thesis serve as an illustration to the Russian church music development in general. Particular attention is given to its interpretation of neums, the musical notes used in the medieval manuscripts in the whole Christian world - in the Russian Church until the late 1600s. Neums are still used by the Russian Old Believers and in the Greek Church. They are not fully translatable into modern notation and they also specify other aspects of the music.
Sven Karpe and the Swedish violin pedagogy
During World War II, when most of Sweden was set on war footing, Swedes were forced to concern themselves with emergency preparedness and supply problems. Not only public administration, businesses and nonprofit Sweden were forced to a time out from normal living and working circumstances, also the cultural sphere halted pending the outcome of the war. When peace finally came Sweden, as well as Western countries in general, saw a prolonged boom that in some respects lasted until the early 1970s. The state took one initiative after another and made large investments in education, public welfare and infrastructure.
Kjell-Åke Hamréns thesis is examining a post-war phenomenon of precisely this nature, namely the professionalization of violin teaching violin at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He is also looking into how an entirely new profession, that of violin pedagogues for the community music schools, arose at the Royal College at the same time, and how this was critical for the long-term improvement of standards in the violinist profession. A special case study is devoted to the violinist and pedagogue Sven Karpe, whose work as a teacher at the Royal College from 1950 and at summer courses for talented young violinists in Kall in Jämtland from 1954, came to be highly influential in the development of violin teaching methods. The emphasis of the thesis is on the possible interaction between the state initiated reform policy within higher music education and the work led by Sven Karpe to identify teaching methods that would promote sufficient teaching outreach to allow for real top level results in Swedish violin playing.
Music and change in Swahili gendered society: unyago in Zanzibar
In my research I will focus on unyago, a particular initiation ritual with music and dance performed in East Africa which marks the transformation of a girl into a woman. It involves the performance of dances and songs, and a set of instructions, treating an entire range of women’s issues such as sexuality, desire and orgasm, fertility, pregnancy and childcare.
I will study unyago among the Waswahili of the Zanzibar archipelago, a hybrid Islamic society containing many different elements from various origins that have intermingled for centuries. An important characteristic of Swahili society that follows from the Islamic religion is gender segregation, with restricted movement of women in the public sphere.
I will show how unyago plays a part in the contestation of set social rules and how women negotiate their position through this ritual. This study will examine and analyze the music and dance part, or ngoma, of unyago, to understand how and why music offers a window to understand change in society, and how musical changes reflect and shape changes in gendered power relations.
This project is connected to the research programme Engaging Vulnerability, which is hosted by the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.
Singing as religious practice: Kingoton and Brorson singing
Throughout the Nordic area, there are popular protestant vocal traditions, i.e. spiritual singing which either by its repertoire or style of singing deviates from the norms of the official church. In my PhD project, I examine recordings of popular psalmody in Denmark, made during the period 1930-1965. These recordings show reminiscences of the two main lines of the tradition: singing by “Kingo’s hymn book” from 1699, and singing by “Brorson’s hymn book”, which in fact was a collective edition of H.A. Brorson’s two poem collections.
The Kingo hymn book taught an archaic, slow and heterophonic style of singing which probably was common in rural churches during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, whereas Brorson’s ballad melodies were sung outside the church, e.g. at the house ceremonies, mainly in the 19th century. Both these traditions were vivid within the pietistic movement.
Aside from the recordings, the two hymn books are central to the project. By pointing at the strong connection between song and book, I want to show how the vocal realization of the hymn book texts represented a religious practice, and how the singers in this tradition could build and strengthen their religious identity.