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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

SHAPE and societal recovery from crises

The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.

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Jazz on a Summer's Day

Inspiring women in jazz, with Nikki Iles

As a teenager, I took clarinet and piano lessons at the Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays. I always particularly loved the chamber groups and small group music-making, so in some ways, it’s no surprise that I ended up in the jazz world! My dad was a semi-pro jazz drummer and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the music of Oscar Peterson, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella and George Shearing as I grew up.

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Marie Madeleine: exploring language, style, and humour in the Acadian folksong tradition

There are two main French speaking groups in Canada: the Québécois and the lesser-known Acadians, who have a fascinating but tragic history in Canada. After failing to establish a post on St Croix Island (present-day Maine) in 1604, the Acadians became the first French colonial group to settle on Canadian soil in 1605 (in present-day Nova Scotia), three years prior to the arrival of the Québécois.

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Discoveries from the Fortepiano

Missing the forest for the trees: interpreting the composer’s message

We can get so bogged down with mysterious notation that we miss the point of the score: the composer’s message. Obsession over details—why did the composer use newly available extra keys in one piece but not another? Why did the composer use particular articulation in this spot but fail to maintain consistency later?

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He That Dwelleth in the Secret Place of the Most High

Exploring the choral music of Rebecca Clarke

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) is most commonly known as a violist and composer, in particular for her famous Viola Sonata (1919), which has remained one of the most significant in the instrument’s repertoire since its composition. Her Shorter Pieces for viola and piano, as well as a number of solo songs, have gained increasing recognition since the turn of the millennium, as more of her music has begun to be published and researched.

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Love Letter

Finding music in the life and letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay

I first became aware of the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay after composer Alison Willis set one of her poems (‘The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver’) for Juice Vocal Ensemble, a group I co-founded with fellow singers and composers, Kerry Andrew and Anna Snow. The collection from which this particular poem is taken won Millay the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 and helped to further consolidate her blossoming career not only as a poet but also as a writer of plays and short stories, receiving mass-recognition under the pseudonym, Nancy Boyd.

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The “Ready… Set… Go!” phrase structure in Classical Era music

We all know the joyful anticipation of that exciting phrase. Whether getting ready for a “race” with my granddaughter or waiting for the gun at the start of a half-marathon, just the thought of it brings a bit of an adrenaline rush. This mindset transcends culture, space, and time, and presents itself structurally in Classical Era music.

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On SHAPE: a Q&A with Lucy Noakes, Eyal Poleg, Laura Wright & Mary Kelly

OUP have recently announced our support for the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. To further understand the crucial role these subjects play in our everyday lives, we have put three questions to four British Academy SHAPE authors and editors—social and cultural historian Lucy Noakes, historian of objects and faith Eyal Poleg, historical sociolinguist Laura Wright, and Lecturer in Contemporary Art History Mary Kelly—on what SHAPE means to them, and to their research.

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