Main Themes

The title of the series provides the main theme and the main point of departure from the ‘traditional’ world of musicology: the study of musical practice. This differs from traditional musicology which has focused on the completed ‘work’ rather than the processes of creation and performance, from ethnomusicology which tended to focus more on the cultural context and the conventions of practice rather than the tacit knowledge required for ‘musicking’ or the criteria for judging (and achieving) excellence, and from areas like popular music studies and cultural theory which focused on the social activities of ‘consumption’ and engagement rather than on theories of making and production.

The main theme, therefore, is how we ‘do’ music in the 21st century – from the latest in electronic dance music production to new research about how to ‘do’ historically-informed baroque performances – and how cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches can provide additional insights. This will include studies of creativity, conformity, collaboration, interaction, communication, techniques of sound creation and manipulation, business models and much more. It will also include a range of perspectives on these kinds of study that include gender, race and other socio-political approaches as well as psychology, sociology, science and technology studies and pedagogical approaches.


The main objective of the series is to stimulate the production of a new body of work that delineates and sets the agenda for this emerging stream of musicology. The finer distinctions, what we might term the ‘sub-objectives’, are implicit in the points outlined in the rationale section above. These include the desire to produce formats and platforms which better serve researchers examining musical practices by finding ways to integrate text-based and multi-media publications. Another objective is to encourage discourse between related disciplines and the development of both a common language where appropriate and the delineation of the finer distinctions between ideas that have parallels in different disciplines.

We are looking for proposals that fit into three categories:
1. Monographs
2. ‘Conversations’
3. ‘Performances’


The monographs are commissioned to explore a series of themes which relate broadly across the whole field of study in 21st century music practice but which are discussed through the lens of the author’s specialism. Thus, an author whose specialism was, for example, performance and gender within popular music studies, would be commissioned to explore the more general implications of their approach. This might involve taking case studies from popular music and discussing the issues relating to gender in musical theatre, electronic composition, jazz and classical performance studies. While the authors would be encouraged to outline their thesis in the context of their subject specialism, they would also be asked to explore how their approach relates to work across the whole field of study.


These take the form of an extended conversation between four authors who study aspects of musical (or creative) practice from different angles. Each book would comprise four sections: each author starts one of the sections with a ‘position paper’ on a topic and then each takes turns to respond to everything that has been previously written on the topic by the others – building up into four complex discussions that interweave. Each author agrees to write 2000-5000 words a month in response to the 6000-20000 written by the other three and over four to ten months a book emerges with joint authorship. This is also released in a reduced form as a blog on the series website in a monthly format. One of the four authors would undertake to co-ordinate.


Using the term ‘performance’ in the broadest sense, some example or examples of 21st century music practice would be documented through audio-visual recording (including any other documentation that might be relevant) and four authors write about the same piece(s) / events / activities from different perspectives. They would ‘carve up the territory’ before they start to prevent overlap and would spend a final chapter discussing the relationship between their four perspectives. The book would then be published and the recording of the performance / practice would be put on the website. Additional discussion of both the performance and the analyses would be invited through the website involving contributions from members of the research network and other performer / practitioners.