Samuel Alexander building

Samuel Alexander building (Photo credit: nogbad the bad)

I was a bag of nerves on Tuesday evening, ahead of my panel meeting on Wednesday morning, as those who saw me that evening could testify.  I go giggly when I’m nervous, and it makes people who don’t know me think I’m not taking things seriously, which is not the case.  Terror doesn’t quite have the same effect, but nerves….

It all turned out alright though.  I’m happy to say that my panelists all seem to think that the revised chapter plan is an improvement, so since Wednesday morning I’ve been busily concentrating on the ballads.  Actually, I started looking at the ballad tunes on Monday afternoon, after a lovely weekend with friends, family and a lot of laughter.  So I’d done quite a bit of work on them before heading to Manchester for the meeting.

Most of my time has been spent analysing the structure and modes of the ballad tunes, putting the tunes with the known words and tinkering with them to make them fit.  The next job is to look at the background (printers/publication dates/variants) of the ballad lyrics and see how the words of the ballads relate to the tunes.  My collated working document of lyrics and tunes is nearly 100 pages long!

I’ve also been looking into hexachordal theory, although at the moment I’m unclear on why sixteenth century musical theorists felt the need to leave out the seventh of the scale.  I will need to draw this into my ballad analysis at some stage.

So last week’s floundering is over, I have a plan and I’m enjoying work again.

Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504-1575)

Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504-1575) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s always like this at the start of a new piece of work. The floundering.

I’m starting to investigate the music, and I have spent the last day or two looking at modal theory, finding out about hexachords, looking in to the life and times of Archbishop Matthew Parker and playing with ballad tunes.  I’ve done quite a bit of reading, and I’ve tried to do a bit of writing on ballad tune analysis and on Parker’s idea of the effect of modes, but I’m struggling a bit.  I find it a bit hard to get going, until I’ve got an angle to get into.  Or unless, of course, I’ve been told what to do, like last week when I was asked to write my theoretical section.

It’s not comfortable.  I’d like to be able to report progress.  But to be honest, I don’t think I’ve been all that productive in the last couple of days.  I think I need to set myself a specific goal next week (apart from getting through my panel meeting, which is probably the main one).  I need to find a particular area in which to immerse myself, and I need to get hold of a couple of library books too.

Next week I have a research assistant to keep me company.  My husband will be on his half term break, but the children aren’t on holiday until the week after.  This presents something of a problem, because although I get extra help with my musical analysis next week, the following week I’m going to find it almost impossible to do any work at all.  So even if I get stuck into something, I’m going to have to put it to one side at the end of next week to take care of the children.