Staff Profile


Dr Nicholas McKay

Head of School of Music and Performing Arts

School: School of Music and Performing Arts

Campus: Canterbury

Tel: 01227 923743

Profile summary

Canterbury Christ Church University (2013+):

Head of School, Music and Performing Arts

Reader in Musicology

University of Sussex (1998-2013):

University Champion for Creative Arts (2006-2009)

Director (Sub-Dean) of Student Support, School of Humanities (2006-2009)

Head of Department, Music (2001-2006 & 2009-2013)

Leverhulme Research Fellow (2005-2006)

Lecturer (1998-2005) & Senior Lecturer in Music (2005-2013)

University of Durham (1993-1998):

Associate Tutor, School of Music (1995-1998)

Resident Tutor, St. John’s College (1994-1998)


PhD - Music Semiotics, Igor Stravinsky (1998)

MA – Twentieth-Century Music (1994)

BA Hons – Music & Philosophy (1993)

Research expertise in semiotics, the music of Igor Stravinsky, analysis, theory, opera & music theatre and the application of linguistic and literary theory to music.

Teaching and supervision experience at UG, PGT and PGR levels: music analysis, theory and history, opera and music theatre, film music, twentieth-century and contemporary music, advanced composition, advanced performance, advanced analysis, semiotics, cultural & gender studies, aesthetics, hermeneutics, music sociology, conducting, music and media.

Research and knowledge exchange

Regularly present papers around the world and publish in international research journals and books on Stravinsky, Music Semiotics, Music Analysis, Opera and Music Theatre.

Awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Stravinsky’s Other Voices, to investigate the semiotics, linguistics and literary theory of Stravinsky’s musical use of quotation and allusion.

Associate Editor of the Journal of Music and Meaning, a peer-reviewed research journal on musical hermeneutics.  Peer reviewer for Music Analysis & Twentieth-Century Music.

Member of the board of the publishing series, Approaches to Musical Semiotics, Acta semiotica fennica.

Experienced PhD supervisor for a number of students on numerous topics including Stravinsky, Scriabin, Analysis, Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, Conducting, Music and Gesture etc.

Royal Musical Association Council elected member (2011-2014).

Conference director: Royal Musical Association Annual International Conference: Horizons (2011); International Congress on Musical Signification 13: Sound and Subject Through Ages: Musical Meanings in Narratives, Topics and Technologies (2016)

External consultant & examiner roles at UK Higher Education Institutions.

Regular pre-performance speaker for Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Opera (2000-present) and opera summer school director

Member of the board of Kent Music.

Teaching and subject expertise

Semiotics, Twentieth-Century Music, Analysis, Opera & Music Theatre, Igor Stravinsky.

External activities

Keynote addresses:

The Rite signs: semiotic readings one hundred years on’, A Laboratory of Spring – international conference celebrating 100th anniversary of The Rite of Spring (Torun, Poland, 2014)

‘Introversive and Extroversive processes: rethinking Stravinsky's music as dialogue between formalist and expressive paradigms’ Second International Music and/as Process conference (Canterbury, 2014).

‘Music Semiotics as a Hermeneutic Tool’ Directions in Musical Research series, University of London, Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study (2011).

Papers at International Conventions on Music Semiotics [ICMS]:

Canterbury (2016), Brussels (2013), Edinburgh (2012), Vilnius (2008), Paris (2004), Helsinki-Tallinn (2000), Imatra (1998).

Papers at International conferences on music theatre:

Intertextuality in Music since 1900 conference (Lisbon, March 2015), Rethinking Stravinsky conference (Salerno, Italy 2012); RMA Annual Conference (Sussex, 2011); FIRT working group on Music Theatre (St. Petersburg, 2004); Third Marks International Conference on Oedipus Rex (Bristol, 2004); and Verdi 2001 commemorative conference (New York, 2001).

Regularly contracted by Glyndebourne Opera to give pre-performance Festival and Touring talks from 2000 to the present on operas including Albert Herring, La Bohème, La Cenerentola, Don Pasquale, Die Entfuhrung, Eugene Onegin, La Finta Giardiniera,Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Hansel und Gretel, Le nozze di Figaro, Rodelinda, La Traviata, Tristan und Isolde, The Turn of the Screw and to write for their Opera Bites series of educational CDs (Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice [Dec. 2001]).

Founding Director and tutor of the Opera at Glyndebourne Summer School (2009-2012)

Publications and research outputs

McKay, N. P., (Ed.), Sound and subject through ages: musical meanings in narratives, topics and technologies, (forthcoming 2017/18)

---, "'Oh what a clever boy!' Topical and intertextual play in Britten's The Turn of the Screw', ibid

---, Stravinsky's other voices (Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2017/18)

---, 'Music as dialogue between formalist and expressive paradigms', Music and/as Process (Ashgate, in press 2017)

---, 'Review: Maureen A. Carr, After the Rite: Stravinsky's path to Neoclassicism (1914-1925) (Oxford: OUP, 2014)' in Music Analysis, vol. 35, issue 1 (Mar. 2016), 119-126

---, 'Review: Ed. Danuta Mirka, The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory (New York, OUP, 2014)' in Eighteenth-Century Music, vol. 13, issue 1 (Mar. 2016), 110-113

---, ‘Dialogising Stravinsky: a topic theory and gestural interpretation’, Rethinking Stravinsky “Speculum Musicae" Ed., Massimiliano, Locanto (Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium, 2014), 175-185

---, ‘Stravinsky’s sideward glance: neoclassicism, dialogised structures and the reflected discourse of Bach, The Journal of Music and Meaning, 12 (December 2013)

---, ‘Stravinsky’s opera in a postmodern age: an intermedial semiotic reading’, proceedings of ICMS 12 (Belgium, April 2013), 239-246

----, ‘Dysphoric States: Stravinsky's Topics – Huntsmen, Soldiers and Shepherds’ in Music semiotics: a network of significations – in honour of Raymond Monelle, ed. Esti Sheinberg(Farnham etc., Ashgate, 2012), 249-261

----, 'Ethnic cleansing, anxious influence and secret codes: a semiotician's guide to Stravinsky's musicological afterlife and its archaeological contra-factum,' in Before and after music, ed. Lina Navickaite-Martinelli (Umweb Publications: Helsinki, 2010), 565-574

----, '"One for all and all for one": voicing in Stravinsky's music theatre,' The Journal of Music and Meaning, 5. (Summer 2007)

----, 'On topics today,' Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie, 4 (1) (2007)

----, ‘Igor's eccentric gestures: a semiotic decoding of Stravinsky's syntax with markedness theory,’ in Musical semiotics revisited, ed. Eero Tarasti, (Helsinki: ISI, 2003), 498-510

---, ‘Oedipus's Requiem: Verdi's 'voice' in Stravinsky,’ in Verdi 2001 (Firenze, Olschki, November 2002), 411-441


Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:58:00