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Dr Ross Cole


Focusing predominantly on the 20th century, my research cuts across established boundaries between the study of vernacular and avant-garde musical cultures. In particular, I have published on early minimalism in the US (concentrating on the work of Steve Reich), issues surrounding race and spectatorship in transatlantic blues performance, the relationship between folksong and fascism in England, the BBC radio ballads, Stravinsky, and the songs of Nick Cave.

I completed an AHRC-funded PhD entitled ‘Ballads, Blues, and Alterity’ at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Nicholas Cook. I also hold an MRes in experimentalism from the University of York, a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Oxford (where I received the Gibbs Prize for the highest mark), and an LRSM in saxophone performance.

Prior to my current position as a Research Fellow at Homerton, I held a Temporary Lectureship at Cambridge, where I offered courses at both undergraduate and MPhil level including ‘Popular Music of the Black Atlantic: From Slavery to Hip Hop’ and ‘Musical Countercultures of the 1960s’. I was awarded the Faculty of Music’s Teaching Prize in 2016.

Colleges, Departments and Institutes

Homerton College:
King's College:

Key Publications


Journal articles:

  • ‘Vernacular Song and the Folkloric Imagination in England at the Fin de Siècle.’ 19th-Century Music, forthcoming.
  • ‘On the Politics of Folksong Theory in Edwardian England.’ Ethnomusicology, forthcoming.
  • ‘Mastery and Masquerade in the Transatlantic Blues Revival.’ Journal of the Royal Musical Association, forthcoming.
  • ‘Industrial Balladry, Mass Culture, and the Politics of Realism in Cold War Britain.’ Journal of Musicology, 34/3 (2017): 354–390.
  • ‘“Sound Effects (O.K., Music)”: Steve Reich and the Visual Arts in New York City, 1966–68.’ Twentieth-Century Music, 11/2 (2014): 217–244.
  • ‘“Fun, Yes, but Music?” Steve Reich and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Cultural Nexus, 1962–65.’ Journal of the Society for American Music, 6/3 (2012): 315–348.


Book chapters:

  • ‘Traversing the Great Divide: Stravinsky, Ragtime, and Jazz.’ In Graham Griffiths (ed.), Stravinsky in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), forthcoming.
  • ‘Nick Cave, the Bad Seeds, and the Blues.’ In Zuleika Beaven et al. (eds.), 40 Years of Mute Records (London: Bloomsbury), forthcoming.