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Popular and Media Music

popular 550

An emerging field at Cambridge, popular and media music brings together a range of diverse work by researchers from different backgrounds. Sam Barrett‘s work on the blues and on modal jazz, in particular the music of Miles Davis, engages closely with analytical issues of musical organisation while at the same time stressing their relationship with social context and meaning; there is a productive interplay between this work and his research on issues of writing and orality in early medieval music. Similar issues of writing, orality, and cultural identity pervade Ruth Davis‘s work on Middle Eastern and North African musical traditions (distinctions of ‘art’ and ‘popular’ music do not translate straightforwardly to cultures outside the first world). Nicholas Cook is not a specialist in popular music but rather a musicologist whose work on such topics as performance and multimedia embraces not only Western ‘art’ but also popular music; he has written on such topics as music in television commercials, film music, and music video. Ian Cross has also worked on film music, but from the perspective of cognitive science; both he and Cook have contributed to the interdisciplinary MPhil programme in Screen Media and Cultures. Ross Cole's research focuses on popular culture of the black Atlantic in the twentieth century, issues of representation in folksong, the aesthetics of minimalism (particularly the work of Steve Reich), avant-garde music of the 1960s, and the poetics of song. Xiaotian Shi is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Screen and Media composition. His commercial music spans from Music for feature films, TV shows, and high-end advert campaigns and he is currently composing for two films due for international release.

Faculty Staff

Sam Barrett

Ross Cole

Nicholas Cook

Ian Cross

Ruth Davis

Xiaotian Shi


Postdoctoral and affiliated researchers

Ananay Aguilar


Graduate students

James Gabrillo


Image: Miles Davis at the Nice Jazz Festival, 1989, via wikicommons