Annual Review, 2019

In some ways, it has been a strange year.  The AHRC funding for the ‘Claimed From Stationers’ Hall’ came to an end in 1818, but accounting for myself and uploading outputs to ResearchFish still continued.  Brio 56 no 2Moreover, I was guest co-editor of the forthcoming issue of IAML(UK and Ireland)’s journal, Brio, which entailed encouraging, cajoling and collaborating with article authors. not to mention authoring three book reviews myself.  It will appear very, very soon, showcasing not only Georgian music in legal deposit libraries from Aberdeen to Oxbridge, and Dublin to London,  but also some very modern developments in music copyright, too.

One big excitement for me was an invitation to be a guest speaker at a seminar at the Sorbonne in Paris – speaking about someone who had really only had a bit part in my doctoral research.  More research was plainly needed, but it paid off handsomely – and having given my scholarly paper, I was subsequently invited to speak about Sir John MacGregor Murray at the Clan MacGregor Annual Dinner in Killin.  It was thoroughly rewarding to learn so much more about an individual whom I had recognised as an important figure in terms of national song, but without realising quite how important he actually was on the wider stage – both in the East India Company and as a clan chieftain at home.

Speaking on a panel about paratext at ISECS in Edinburgh was also an exciting event, and introduced me to people whom I’m sure I’ll continue to collaborate with in future.

Autumn, however, was a different kettle of fish entirely.  My husband needed a hip replacement, and until we had the date for his surgery, I could accept no further engagements.  I find it profoundly distressing to back out of commitments, but it turned out to be a salutary lesson that the world does, indeed, keep turning even if engagements do have to be cancelled.  I hope that we’ll be able to reschedule one of them.

As though that wasn’t enough, I too needed surgery, not because I was ill (I wasn’t!), but it was recommended by my consultant to ensure I would not have problems in future.  My operation ended up two weeks before my husband’s.  Suddenly, there was the pressure of completing the work on Brio, and also submitting a grant application with literally hours to spare, before heading to hospital for my procedure.  I hadn’t been off work for as long as a month for more than 20 years, but my convalescence was somewhat impeded by the need to resume caring responsibilities simultaneously.  Anyway, fully recovered now, we look forward to a much healthier 2020!

I have plans to submit another grant application early in the new year, and then … well, let’s see what transpires!  My head may be full of fascinating historical and modern music copyright information, but my heart remains with national songs and paratext!

Notwithstanding my frustration that I continue only to be a researcher for 1.5 days a week (more would make me merrier!), I do try to remind myself that I’m not doing badly given the circumstances.  Someone who is a researcher 1.5 days and a librarian 3.5 days per week cannot expect to achieve as much as someone wholly occupied as a scholar.  I’ve done a fair bit of information skills teaching along the way, too.  Research skills and bibliographical training are particular strengths of mine.  But I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that I am heartily tired of cataloguing, after nearly 32 years in the same role.  I so urgently need fresh challenges!  I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to supervise an undergraduate research project this summer, and am looking forward to another such supervision in the new year.

Beyond 2019?

My aspirations are to do more research, more writing, more teaching.  To attract more grant-funding.  And, if only it could be possible, to increase my research activity as a percentage of my weekly work.  I’ve stayed in Glasgow all this time for very valid reasons, but the final outcome is that my curriculum vitae shows a vast increase in the scope of my expertise, but a totally flat line as regards career progression.  Ah well, still some years until retirement, so let’s see what I can achieve in them!

So, what do I have to show for 2019?

Blogpost: Romantic National Song Network: Scotland. Afton Water

Sage Encyclopedia of Music and Culture Sage Publications, 2019: ‘Borders’, print pp.382-384; ‘Librarianship’, print pp.1334-1336; ‘Wales: History, culture and geography of music’, print pp.2338-2341; and ‘Wales: modern and contemporary musical practice’, print pp.2342-2343.

May Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du sud. Workshop: John Macgregor Murray (1745-1822): Persianate and Indic Cultures in British South Asia. Guest speaker, ‘Bagpipes, Ossian, Gaelic and Tartan: Sir John MacGregor Murray as a Mediator of Highland Culture’

June ICEPOPS (International Copyright-Literacy Event with Playful Opportunities for Practitioners and Scholars, at University of Edinburgh): Pecha Kucha,  ‘Silence in the Library: from Copyright Collections to Cage’

July Athenaeum Award to attend and speak at the ISECS 15th International Congress on the Enlightenment

July After dinner speaker at Annual Clan MacGregor Weekend, Killin (‘Bagpipes, Ossian, Gaelic and Tartan: Sir John MacGregor Murray and Gaelic Culture’)

August  ‘National Airs in Georgian Libraries’, 104-114, in Old Songs, New Discoveries: Selected Papers from the 2018 Folk Song Conference, ed. Steve Roud & David Atkinson (Folk Song Papers, no.2), London: The Ballad Partners, 2019 ISBN 9781916142411

October Athenaeum Award – contribution to publication costs of Brio 56#2 (special issue dedicated to ‘Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network) – issue will be mailed to subscribers in January 2020.

December Scottish Music Review 5 (2019), 75-87, ‘Scottish Airs in London Dress: Vocal Airs and Dance Tunes in Two 18th Century London Collections’


‘Library support to students on blended-learning courses: some thoughts on best practice’ (SCONUL Focus, next issue )

Two further articles have been submitted but are still in the pipeline!

Beyond Academia

It took me a few months to get round to it, but I decided to celebrate my 61st year by learning a new instrument! I began by borrowing one from RCS, but this summer – as a 61st birthday present to myself – I bought a reconditioned Gaudini.  My debut was with a church carol-singing expedition last week.  It took me a week for my knees and ankles to recover!

I make occasional forays into composition in my spare time.  Having said this, I’m not a professional composer – and I’m surrounded by too many career composers to imagine that I’ve got anything very dramatic or genre-bending to say!  Nonetheless, when I look at my output just from 2019, I begin to see where the time went!  You’ll find quite a few of these pieces on Soundcloud, and some of the music is also on Sheet Music Plus – I’ve even sold some!

Compositions Performed or being Considered for Performance

  • Apart: a lament, for reeds quintet
  • Anthem: Bless this child today
  • Blueberry Enchantment: song, recorded by Ruth Carlyle and David Barton
  • Epiphany: a carol, to be performed at Killermont Parish Church Jan 12th 2020
  • Pan and Syrinx: flute solo, performed by Ashley Westmacott, London College of Music (Prequel Concert – Pan – Lunchtime flute music. Chamber Music Concert at University of West London, Weston Hall, St Mary’s Road, Ealing W5 5RF 1.10pm Weds 27th November)
  • The Spinners and the  Habetrot: song, recorded by Ruth Carlyle and David Barton

Dance Tunes

The least said about these, the better. I wrote half a dozen tunes – they haven’t got much to recommend them!


  • Auld lang syne for cello quartet
  • East India Volunteers Country Dance
  • I’m glad I ever saw the day (choir)
  • Jock o’ Hazeldene (piano)
  • John MacGregor Murray and the East India Company
  • The Lass o’ Patie’s Mill (piano)
  • The lone wanderer (2018, but I think recorded by Ruth Carlyle and David Barton in 2019)
  • Native land adieu (piano)
  • O Come all ye Faithful: new descant (performed 22 Dec 2019)
  • Scots Wha Hae (cello quartet)

2019-11-26 16.08.05

Composition and arranging are great stress-busters for me.  But when I’m not at my computer, my other relaxation is sewing, whether by machine or by hand.  The above picture is my “cloth book for grown-ups”, which attempts to show graphically just how many legal deposit scores survive in the various Georgian legal deposit libraries.

Research also met needle and thead in various other guises!  Other sewing projects end up in my wardrobe or as gifts.  There really is a limit to how many fabric fantasias a normal house can hold!