C.J. May, Lincoln College

Arvo Pärt and Musical Rhetoric

 My research focuses on the music of Arvo Pärt. I am especially interested in reconciling analytical and experiential accounts of Pärt’s compositions. More generally, I work on Pärt in relation to embodied musical meaning, reception issues, techniques of compositional rhetoric, word-music relationships in early and modern sacred music, conceptual metaphor in music, gesture in process-driven music, and analogies between music and language.

Other research interests include the Icelandic singer Björk, perceptions of musical value in the Eurovision Song Contest, and the status of concepts such as the musical work within intellectual property jurisprudence (I am also qualified in law).

I have tutored undergraduates in topics including Viennese modernism, post-1945 sacred vocal music, and historically informed performance. I presently co-convene the research colloquium series in the Faculty of Music. I also sing and record with several Oxford choirs.

 Publications and papers

  • “Jurisprudence as Musicology: Suing in the Land Down Under”

Words About Music conference, Monash University, 12 April 2014

  • Conference report: “Hearing Landscape Critically”

RMA Newsletter XVIII/1 (April 2014)

  • “Bounded in a nutshell: spatial metaphor and boundaries in Arvo Pärt’s sacred music”

Hearing Landscape Critically conference, University of Stellenbosch, 10 September 2013

  • “Demystifying Arvo Pärt and early music”

Musicology seminar, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, 15 April 2013

  • “Hearing Pärt Rhetorically: Allusion and Musical Modelling in the Miserere (1989)” RMA postgraduate conference, University of Southampton, 5 January 2013 
  • “The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt” (book review)

Music and Letters 94/1 (2013), 184-187

 Contact Details

chris.may@music.ox.ac.uk