Music, gender, sexism – stirring things up

December 10, 2014 § 10 Comments

The game is afoot.


Or, rather, it’s now officially afoot. If you’ve been following my music for a while, you’ll already know that I have a bit of a thing about how ideas around gender – and gender discrimination –  work in the musical world. So, from January, I’m taking that thing and turning it into a performance doctorate at the Centre for the Study of Music, Gender and Identity (MuGI) at University of Huddersfield.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I hope it’ll pique the interest of some of you reading now. Why does one type of person end up symbolising ‘the composer’ or ‘the artist’, to the exclusion of others? Why do some pieces of music enter the canon and not others? What do audiences hear, when what they see is interpreted along culturally conditioned gender lines? How does the gender (actual or perceived) of the performer enter into this? How are we going to make things better?

I’ll be charting my doctoral studies online – blogging, livestreaming, discussions, surveys, audio, new manuscript editions – so do please watch this space for new links and content.


And before that?


This Friday (December 12th) I’ll be hosting a talk/discussion on gender and music at the London Feminist Library. Entry is free, the wine will be plentiful, and I’ll do my best to bring cookies. 7:30pm start time – bring your opinions, come join a lovely informal debate.

I’m following the theoretical with the practical – Saturday (December 13th) is a performance of Baroque music written by the often neglected, often maligned Barbara Strozzi. A poet, vocalist, composer – as well as a single mother, illegitimate child, unmarried woman – it’s fascinating/depressing to realise how so many sexist tropes leveled against working women today were leveled against Strozzi then.  Her music is witty, moving, catchy, inventive gold – if you haven’t heard her before, you’re in for something special. 7:30pm start at St Peter’s Vauxhall tickets £10/7 on the door – and 2-for-1 entry for those who came to the Friday debate.


When I was at school, I was told there were no women composers. When I was at university, I was told that there were no women composers worth bothering about, and that trans people of all kinds didn’t have a place in music. I’m really excited to get to do something that challenges those lies.

§ 10 Responses to Music, gender, sexism – stirring things up

  • Jonathan says:

    “When I was at school, I was told there were no women composers. When I was at university, I was told that there were no women composers worth bothering about”

    …which is just ignorance of course. But it’s prompted me to go through my collection and see how much music I actually have by women composers and found these:

    Keiko Abe, Ryoko Akama, Natasha Anderson, Amanda Baker, Ros Bandt, Johanna Beyer, Lili Boulanger, Gloria Coates, Lindsay Cooper, Sylvie Courvoisier, Delia Derbyshire, Lucia Dlugoszewski, Janet Feder, Beatriz Ferreyra, Annie Gosfield, Antye Greie, Sofia Gubaidulina, Dorothée Hahne, Hildegard of Bingen, Christina Kubisch, Catherine Lamb, Ingrid Lee, Nicola Lefanu. Liza Lim, Annea Lockwood, Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy, Kaffe Matthews, Meredith Monk, Thea Musgrave, Anett Németh, Pauline Oliveros, Daphne Oram, Else Marie Pade, Eliane Radigue, Maja Ratkje, Vanessa Rosetto, Annette Schlünz, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Alice Shields, Laurie Spiegel, Barbara Strozzi, Germaine Tailleferre, Calliope Tsoupaki, Galina Ustvolskaya, Lois Vierk, Lauren Weinger, Julia Wolfe.

    (I probably missed a few.)

  • Naomhan says:

    Reblogged this on 2 women to 2 men – and what lies in between and commented:
    Music and gender identity rolled into one. One small step forward…!

  • Naomhan says:

    I’m so happy to hear this!!! And at the same time, very sad that I don’t live in London, as I’m missing all your performances! 😦 I look forward to your updates, good luck! 🙂

  • Sam Hope says:

    This is really exciting, congrats!

  • Lesboi says:

    It sounds fascinating. I wish I lived in London so I could go.

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