I took my undergraduate and masters at The Queen’s College, Oxford, before moving to Royal Holloway, University of London for my PhD. I have also been an Associate Lecturer with the Open University in the South, a research assistant for the Early Music Online project run by the British Library and Royal Holloway. In 2011-14 I held a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and St John’s College. and from 2014-17 I was a postdoctoral researcher on the the AHRC-funded Tudor Partbooks Project at the Music Faculty of the University of Oxford.
My research interests lie in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English music. I have written on wide-ranging topics, including court music, civic pageantry, ballads and popular song, gender, death songs and elegies, music philosophy, mythology, manuscript miscellanies and early music printing. My book, Music in Elizabethan Court Politics was published with Boydell and Brewer in 2015. I also have articles published in Renaissance Quarterly, Early Music, Music and Letters, the Journal of the History of Ideas, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, and The Library, and forthcoming in and the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle.
The Tudor Partbooks project, led by Magnus Williamson and Julia Craig-McFeely aimed to digitize all the extant Tudor partbooks, making these available via the DIAMM website. Two key exemplars – the Sadler and Baldwin partbooks – are beingrestored and constructed. The Sadler partbooks are badly corroded by the acidic ink used in their copying, leaving them extremely fragile and virtually illegible. A process of digital reconstruction will restore these manuscripts to a readable state. The Baldwin partbooks require a different process of restoration. This is a set with one book missing (the tenor), and a process of collaborative reconstruction drawing on the expertise of both scholars and performers will create a plausible version of the missing parts. My particular research contribution was a detailed analysis of the Hamond partbooks – the only complete manuscript source of Protestant service music from the first decades of Elizabeth’s reign – to be published shortly in the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle.
My British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship investigated the changing cultural significance of music in early modern England by examining musical myths and stories. Anecdotal tales about music’s ability to cure tarantula bites, for example, have provided insight into perceptions of music’s effects on body and soul, while Biblical stories such as David driving out Saul’s evil spirit show a shift from demonological to medical diagnoses, and from harmonic to affective (emotional) explanations for music’s powers. The most fascinating aspect of this project, however, has been tracing the impact of empirical and experimental natural philosophy on the Classical tradition and Renaissance Humanist scholarship. Even in the mid-to-late seventeenth century, Royal Society members continued to draw on such tales as inspiration for acoustical experiments, while Classical mythology underpinned their debates on the relative powers of ancient and modern music. Far from simply demystifying, the Society’s musical investigations were the result of a mind-set that amalgamated myth, anecdote, and science.
My previous research explored the political uses of music at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, considering the role of music in constructing royal and courtly identities and in influencing the Queen’s policies and patronage. I examined music in royal progresses, court tournaments, masques and plays, as well as anecdotal stories of music-making in more private and intimate contexts. My 2012 article exploring the role of music in Elizabeth’s royal image can be found here and details of my book, Music in Elizabethan Court Politics (Boydell and Brewer, 2015) here.
Other web profiles: http://oxford.academia.edu/KatherineButler
Follow me on Twitter: @ka_butler