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  • Date and time: Wednesday 28 February 2024, 4pm to 6pm
  • Location: In-person and online
    Block D, I/D/003, Sally Baldwin Buildings, Campus West, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking not required

Event details

For this week's Research Seminar, please join Philip Burnett (University of York) discuss his research on: 

What links the study of music, the University of York, and Modderpoort, a former mission station in the Free State Province of South Africa? I found part of the answer to this question while working in the Borthwick Institute of Archives, University of York on the papers of the Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM). In a report from 1904, one of the missionaries working at Modderpoort was described as “mad on plainsong”. Taken together, the photographs, letters, reports, and logbooks of the SSM archive provide a vibrant record of the music making found on the SSM’s mission stations, and so I was prompted to think further about the SSM’s use of plainsong, amongst other musical styles, in the mission field.

Despite the detailed information that mission archives (such as that of the SSM) contain about musical practice, they have largely been left unexamined by musicologists. Using the SSM papers held in the Borthwick Institute, together with information from the University of Cape Town’s Special Collections, the University of Witwatersrand’s Historical Papers, and my own fieldwork notes, I will explore further what “mad on plainsong” meant, by discussing the people who made the music, what they sang, where they made music, and how they made it. The paper will examine how musical repertoires, such as plainsong, were recontextualised as they came to be transformed by the encounters of the mission field.

Can't join the event in person? See the event online instead.

Meeting ID: 967 9721 8269

Password: 878342

Join now (online entry)

About the speaker

Philip Burnett

Philip Burnett is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Music at the University of York. His research explores the music found on mission stations established in Southern and East Africa during the nineteenth century, exploring aspects of musical mobility and colonial encounters.

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible


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