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Postgraduate research

RMA Research Students’ Conference 2015

16 January 2015

Alicia Stark is a PhD student at the School of Music and is currently researching Authenticity, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Virtual Band.

Recently, the annual RMA Research Students’ Conference was held at the University of Bristol.  Spanning three days, this event is always one of my favourites.

rma-logo-170One of the main reasons is that all the presenters are research students, which means their papers are new and cutting edge, covering a wide array of topics.  But it also means that the audiences are primarily research students as well, who can ask insightful questions and (arguably more importantly) sympathise with the research experience. While they may not know a subject area inside and out, they understand the painstaking work and effort that goes into creating a presentation of this nature, and there is an air of support and camaraderie throughout the whole event.

Another reason why I love this student conference is the scope of the presentations.  There are papers on most musical styles, eras, and topics, from Soviet musicology to performance anxiety to Benevantan chant. It’s fascinating to walk into papers with little previous knowledge or context and to see how new researchers are engaging with established topics.  And this year, a large number of these presentations on far-reaching topics came from Cardiff University students.

We had a huge representation at this year’s conference, with six PhD students delivering papers (yes, that is a lot for one conference!)  I gave a paper on Noodle from Gorillaz, but my friends gave papers on composition, performance, Italian and Czech musicology, and more.  We covered a large portion of ‘modern’ musical history between us, and it was wonderful to showcase how Cardiff’s research community is thriving.

We seem to have a large number of research interests at Cardiff, but what I like more than simply bragging about my Uni is that the PhD students at Cardiff are starting to invest in each other’s work.  We attend each other’s papers at conferences, become part of the field work reading group (even if we don’t often do field work), engage in PGR Study Days, or hang out in the postgrad suite on Thursday mornings.  We’re starting to see more of each other, talk more often, share ideas online, and that makes us more confident to go out and share our work with people at conferences like the RMA.

It’s something we’ve been working toward for a long time, and will continue to work on:  building a research community that supports our own and leads in the academic world.  The RMA Research Students’ Conference was a reflection of the ways Cardiff is achieving those goals.

Find out more about Alicia’s research on the School website


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