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Walters ’20 Conducts Musicology Research


Nicholas Walters ’20 has spent the summer conducting research on the impact of medieval and Renaissance music on more modern pieces. With the aid of his adviser, Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley, he will ultimately write an essay that reflects his research and academic interests.

What is your research project?

This project is a paper focusing on the influence of medieval and Renaissance music on composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and how those composers either incorporate melodies from these time periods into new works or write new works with specific references to or ideas based on those periods. I am especially interested in early sacred music, which is essentially the choral music of the Christian church in the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance. In academic terms, this historical and analytical approach to music composition is called musicology.

About Nicholas Walters ’20

Major: Music

Hometown: Concord, Mass.

High School: Concord Academy

read about other student research 
What do you hope to accomplish through this project?

My hope is to go on to study musicology at graduate level, and hopefully work as a professor and researcher after. This fall I will be applying to several universities in the UK that I have visited and shared my work with – I was able to make connections during my study-abroad year this past year at Oxford. Through this project I hope to gain more experience in the field of musicology, increase my knowledge of history and analysis, share my work with potential supervisors, and to work more with the music department at Hamilton.

What do you find the most challenging?

Since I am looking into several eras of music history, what I have found most challenging is gauging just how much to delve into each one while leaving enough time to cover everything I need to cover. As I complete more research, I find other small areas that I also need to look into. The topic of compositions I am researching has also not been written about significantly before, so it has been a challenge to pinpoint the compositions I should study. I began the project with a list of about 15 works either that I knew or that Lydia suggested, and since then I have expanded it to nearly 60 compositions and film scores, all of which I am analyzing, but four or five of which I am writing more significant portions on, which I am calling the ‘highlights’ of each section of the paper.

What’s your prior interest in this field?

I enjoy singing in choirs, especially sacred ones, but this interest did not develop until my senior year of high school. Before that my background in music was mainly the piano, which I began in the first grade, and the violin, which I started in the fourth. Only since the beginning of my time at Hamilton has my interest transformed into a compositional and then musicological approach, so my background in music could be summed up as a simple timeline: performance, creation, research.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to work in the field of musicology (and in the study and performance of sacred music) at college- or university-level.

Walters in one of 200 Hamilton students conducting research or completing an internship supported by the College this summer.

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