What am I doing in Sydney?

Tomorrow, I leave for Sydney on the longest and frankly, most frightening journey I have ever had to undertake. Despite the fear, which is mainly surrounding the incredibly long flight, and leaving my husband and cat for a whole month, I am incredibly excited to have such opportunity, which would not have been possible without The University Glasgow Ross Fund.

‘What is this mysterious fund?’ I hear you ask. Well in much the same way as Domenico Corri laid out his A Singer’s Perceptor (1810), let me attempt to anticipate and answer some questions:

The University of Glasgow’s Ross Fund offers researchers the opportunity to examine materials held outside Scotland relating to the history of Scotland, the Scottish people and their influences abroad. My month-long exploratory survey will include the Stewart Symonds Sheet Music Collection, recently acquired by the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, which contains some of the earliest surviving examples of Scottish sheet music brought to Australia in the 19th Century.

‘What is the point of this research?’

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a tradition of collecting and preserving Scots songs in print grew out of a fear that this heritage was disappearing. This domestic music repertoire was designed and printed for the growing middle class and brought to Australia by Scottish immigrants among others. My research will explore the relationship between popular Scots songs in Britain and Australia during this period, seek out Scottish publications which are now rare in Britain, and examine whether the Scots families who settled in Australia continued to collect Scots songs after their arrival.

‘Will you do anything else – or are you just going to look at books and papers for a month?’

I will be presenting my preliminary findings at Sydney Sound Heritage, Elizabeth Bay House, at the end of March, which will include a short performance.

Hopefully, that gives a little insight into what I am up to and I will be keep this blog up-to-date with my month-long journey!


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