This academic year we welcome Joe Turner, who is studying for a PhD within the Popular Music Research Unit.
Before you came to Brookes, what did you study and where?
I specialised in music composition at the University of Birmingham and then the University of Southampton. I had originally planned to pursue a career in composition but instead was lured to the dark side of Popular Music Studies. I have always been deeply involved in popular music as a fan and a musician, but I used to have quite a snobby attitude towards PMS, preferring to study “art music” instead. I’m glad I dropped that stupid attitude.
What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?
It seems incredible to me how overlooked PMS is still in some university music departments. Having decided to make the switch from composition to PMS I wanted to study somewhere that takes it seriously, not as an afterthought. The existence of PMRU at Brookes was one of the big selling points for me. Plus, I grew up near Oxford and know the city well so the idea of studying here was very appealing to me.
What are your main research interests?
I’m currently researching issues of genre and authenticity in black metal. It mainly involves transcribing Darkthrone tracks to Sibelius.
Do you have plans to take your research interests further?
At the moment my research is an end in itself – and there’s a long way to go before I’m even close to that end! That said, Metal Music Studies is a growing area of research and it is fun to be a part of that. My ever-patient and wise supervisor Jan would tell you that I went through about three or four different research ideas before settling on my current topic, so there’s certainly no lack of ideas I could pursue further.
Do you have any related interests outside academia?
When I’m not studying or watching the Simpsons I’m usually playing or writing music. As well as singing and playing guitar and drums in a number of bands I play fiddle, banjo and concertina, sometimes with others and sometimes solo. As much as I enjoy my research, writing and performing music was my first love and I always make plenty of time for that side of things. Basically, I want to have my cake and eat it!
Do you have any advice for prospective students of Popular Music?
Come to Brookes! The staff know the subject inside out and are lovely people to boot, plus there are few cities in the UK with more going on musically than Oxford. And don’t forget, pop music scholars are pop music fans too – the two should always go hand in hand.