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Post Doctoral Researcher, Music

Maynooth, Ireland
Closing date
14 Jan 2024

Department : Music
Vacancy ID : 026481
Closing Date : 14-Jan-2024

The Role  

The Music Department at Maynooth University invites applications for a 24 month position as a Postdoctoral Researcher to work with Professor Karen Desmond’s research team on the project “Polyphonic Singing and Communities of Music Writing in Medieval Britain and Ireland, c. 1150 to c. 1350” (BROKENSONG) (funded by a 5-year ERC Consolidator Grant). For this postdoctoral position, we seek a candidate with a background in Computational Musicology, Digital Humanities, or related fields. The candidate should have programming experience working with systems and standards related to the encoding, presentation, and analysis of humanities data, preferably experienced with image and/or music data. (Please refer to vacancies website for the advertisement for an additional postdoctoral position for a candidate with a background in medieval and manuscript studies.  

The BROKENSONG project examines polyphonic singing in medieval Britain and Ireland during a transformative period of western music history, c. 1150-1350, when written books devoted to polyphony began to proliferate. Using methodologies from musicology, music analysis, medieval and manuscript studies, practice-based research, and digital humanities, BROKENSONG aims to answer the principal research question: What does it mean for a culture to write its music down? BROKENSONG investigates what this act of ‘writing-down’ meant to and for musical communities. The insular sources extant from this period—just over a hundred mostly fragmentary sources—hint at stories of music practice and creation different from those suggested by the highly curated continental anthologies of polyphony that survive from continental Europe, and around which the history of western music was constructed. These are mostly broken books transmitting broken songs: yet BROKENSONG proposes that its in-depth study of these fragmentary and damaged sources will provide a breakthrough on fundamental questions regarding the relationship between music’s material culture—its books and its technologies of music writing—and processes of music creation in the later Middle Ages. It will reconstruct a lost vibrant musical culture, contextualizing these remnants of music writing and practice within specific music communities.  

Three intersecting phases of the project reconstruct the fragmentary material artifacts, develop historical understandings of music and community, and analyse communities of musical style through a combination of practice-based and computational approaches. The Postdoctoral Researcher recruited for this position will primarily work on the first phase of the project, titled “Reconstructing the repertoire”. Fragmentary and damaged, a large portion of the music once copied on these insular manuscripts is now incomplete, and most of it was omitted from the current scholarly editions. In addition to recovering the content on these damaged and incomplete fragments using techniques such as MSI, and digitally encoding every notational glyph, features of the manuscript layout, and the orthography of the underlaid texts including their punctuation, another primary activity of this first phase of the project will be to reconstruct the missing portions of the compositions. The primary output of this phase is an innovative ‘born-digital’ scholarly edition that will present interactive reconstructions of these works alongside the enhanced manuscript images for use by scholars and performers, providing an exemplar for future digital music editions, which integrates image, sound, encoding, and context. In addition, the data captured in this phase will inform the analysis of the third phase of the project (Years 4-5) that seeks to understand the relationship of notational systems and musical style to specific regions, repertoires, communities, and individuals. The postdoctoral researcher will have a budget p.a. for research travel related expenses. The work of this first phase is based on the principle that we can only answer the larger research question about what music writing means to a culture, and how it might be used to understand musical style, if we can first document and understand in detail how it was used by each individual scribe in each individual source.  


Postdoctoral Researcher (LEVEL 1) 2023: €42,783 - €45,322 p.a. (3 points) with increment after 12 months service.  

Closing Date: 23:30hrs (local Irish time) on Sunday, January 14, 2024.  

Please note all applications must be made via our Online Recruitment Portal at the following link:  

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified above. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system.  

Late applications will not be accepted.  

Maynooth University is an equal opportunities employer  

The position is subject to the Statutes of the University

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