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Rachelle Barlow


Position: Postgraduate student Email:

PhD Research

Thesis:  Gendered Spaces and Historical Places in Welsh Choral Music

This thesis concerns the significance of gender in relation to music in the South Wales valleys in late nineteenth century Wales. In particular, it examines the tradition of choral singing, which developed in the context of rapid industrialisation in Wales, especially in coal mining communities. In the context of mass migration to, and religious nonconformity in the country, musical practices fulfilled a social function of galvanising community spirit at a time when a national consciousness was beginning to emerge. Although studies documenting social and religious developments of this period have been published, the role of music making in the shaping of identities at a local and national level has often been overlooked. In contrast, I will examine the practice of choral singing using a variety of methodologies drawn from ethnomusicology and its cognate disciplines, in order to uncover how ensemble practice relates to different articulations of Welshness. By studying how music making helps understand social, economic and religious changes during the period, I will clarify complex issues related to everyday life in Wales during the late-Victorian era (1870-1901).

Conceived as a historical ethnography, this thesis draws upon archival sources (both musical and non-musical) and ethnographic accounts in order to interrogate the role of music practices during this period. It examines musical collections from sacred and secular contexts, journals and scores, as well as visual materials relating to musical activities. It also examines nineteenth century newspaper articles, religious materials (such as Bibles and parish records) and written accounts by local historians. In addition, archival resources located in St Fagans National History Museum (Cardiff), SCOLAR (Cardiff University) and the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) are also utilised.


Supervisor: Dr John Morgan O’Connell

Book Review: Harper, Sally, ‘Music in Welsh Culture Before 1650: A Study of the Principal Sources’, Ethnomusicology, 55/3 (2011), 511-16.

Conference Contributions (recent and forthcoming):

'Contesting Boundaries: Gender, Community and Class in Welsh Choral Music', Music and Shared Imaginaries: Nationalisms, Communities, and Choral Singing conference, University of Aveiro, Portugal, 30 October - 1 November 2014.

‘Forging the Land of Song? Industry, Identity and Memorialisation in the South Wales Choral Union, 1872-3’, RMA and LUCEM Study Day: Amateur Music-Making in the British Provinces, University of Leeds, 18 June 2014.

'Welsh Exhibitionists: Welsh Choirs at International Exhibitions in Paris and Chicago’, Music Around the Atlantic Rim: The British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the AHRC Research Networking Project ‘Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns’ Joint Conference, Cardiff University, 19 October 2013.

‘How Black was My Valley? Industry, Community and Identity in Welsh Music’, RMA Ninth Biennial International Conference on Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Cardiff University, 24-27 June 2013.

‘“Singing Themselves Stupid”: Music and Gender in Late Nineteenth Century Wales’, Voice of Humanities Conference, Cardiff University, 21 March 2013.

‘WoMen of Harlech: Gendered Spaces and Historical Spaces in Welsh Choral Music (1870-1901)’, Postgraduate Research Study Day, Cardiff University School of Music, 24 January 2013.

2011-               PhD Ethnomusicology, Cardiff University
2009-2010:      MA Ethnomusicology (Distinction), Cardiff University
2006-2009:      BMus (First Class Honours), Cardiff University

Funding / Awards:

2014:              Graduate Teaching Research Associate for the research project 'Instruments of War',                        funded by Cardiff University.
2014:               Research Assistantship for the REACT project 'The God Article', funded by the AHRC
2011-               School of Music Studentship, Cardiff University
2011:               ‘125 for 125’ Scholarship Award, Cardiff University
2009-2010:      School of Music Studentship, Cardiff University
2009:               John Morgan Lloyd Scholarship Award, Cardiff University


2014: Methods in Ethnomusicology (PGT - MA), module co-ordinator - Dr John Morgan O'Connell
2014: Music in Human Life (Year 1), module co-ordinator - Dr John Morgan O'Connell
2014: Project in Ethnomusicology (Year 3), module co-ordinator - Dr John Morgan O'Connell

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