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Dr Rachael Durkin

Assistant Professor

Department: Humanities

Following my undergraduate degree in music, I was awarded my PhD from The University of Edinburgh in 2015. Having previously lectured at The University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University, I joined Northumbria in 2019 as one of the founding members of Music where I lead the performance and pedagogical strands of the Foundation and Music BA(Hons) programmes. 

My research sits in the field of organology, or the study of musical instruments, which combines the approaches of musicology with material culture studies. I have published research considering instruments such as the viola d'amore, baryton, and dancing-master's pochette or kit, through to the Victorian violin and the forgery trade, innovative instruments developed as tools for marketing, and the intersections between music and literature through the lens of instruments. My monograph on the history and development of the viola d'amore is the first ever scholarly study of a largely forgotten instrument which sat at the centre of baroque music-making and technological developments of the long 18th century. My next monograph examines the innovation of musical instruments during the first industrial age (c.1760–1820), their social networks, and how their invention depended on new technologies only made possible by advances in other learned fields. I was the lead editor of The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature (2022), and also the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Early Modern Music and Literature. 

I am lead of the Montagu Collection of Global Musical Instruments, serve chair of the strategic board of Music Partnership North (music hub for Newcastle and Northumberland), sit on the board of The Galpin Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 

Rachael Durkin

My research focuses on the history of musical instruments (organology) and music-making. I am the author of the first scholarly study of the viola d’amore (Routledge, 2020), and lead editor of The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature (Routledge, 2022).

My research is in the field of organology, or the study of musical instruments. I have particular expertise in string instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries. My monograph, The Viola d’Amore: Its History and Development, is the first scholarly study of the once-popular baroque instrument. I have also published on instruments such as the baryton, pochette/kit, and bowed psaltery. My next monograph examines the innovation of musical instruments during the first industrial age (c.1760–1820), their social networks, and how their invention depended on new technologies only made possible by advances in other learned fields. I am particualrly interested in the intersections between trades and bodies of expertise, migration and knowledge exchange, and the historic creative industries economy.

As a secondary interest, I have conducted work in the field of music and literature studies through the lens of musical instruments. My work on the violin in Victorian literature uncovered the influence of William Crawford Honeyman's short detective fiction on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, from the format of the tales oriented around a detective, to the symbolism of the violin; a discovery which received global press coverage, and continues to generate interest today. I am presently leading the editing of a second collection of essays on music and literature, The Routledge Companion to Early Modern Music and Literature. 

 

 

  • Christopher Miller Organology Is Object-Oriented: New Tools for Analysis and Expanded Lexicon for the Study of Musical Instruments Start Date: 01/10/2023
  • Benedict Heaney Exploring the History of the Bowed Electric String in the Modern Development of the Violin: From Leo Fender’s Electric Violin to digital techniques of the 21st century Start Date: 01/10/2023
  • Dan Donnelly Redefining Music Provision to Reflect Music Consumption at Key Stage 3 Start Date: 18/01/2021 End Date: 10/03/2023
  • Owen Woods Shifting patterns of tonal design in the organs of Harrison and Harrison between 1872 and 1972 Start Date: 26/01/2023
  • Benjamin Hebbert Music as the Measure of the Soul: Musical Instruments as Materiality in the English Renaissance Court and Noble Culture Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • Michael Saunders A Scottish Experiment: Music and its Institutions 1970s-1980s Start Date: 01/10/2022
  • Dan Donnelly Redefinig Music Provision to Reflect Music Consumption at Key Stage 3 Start Date: 18/01/2021 End Date: 01/12/2021

I am on the board of trustees for the Hebrides Ensemble, serve as Chair of the strategic board for Music Partnerships North, and sit on the Galpin Society committee. I work closely with Trinity College London, the ISM, Music Mark, and the music hubs in and around the North East of England to exchange expertise, and bring in professional knowledge to the vocational strands of the Music Foundation Year and Music BA (Hons).

  • Philosophy PhD
  • DipABRSM Instrumental Teaching
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy FHEA


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