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Faculty of Music



Professor of Early Medieval Music
Director of Studies, Pembroke College


Sam Barrett is Professor of Early Medieval Music, and Fellow and Director of Study in Music at Pembroke College. He is a specialist in early medieval music, with a particular interest in Latin song and issues in notation, transmission and performance. He also has interests in jazz and related genres of popular music.

His work within medieval music is driven by an interest in song, especially in the way it crosses boundaries between text and music, writing and orality, and memory and performance. These interests have focused on arguably the earliest surviving layer of the Western European lyric tradition, namely the music of the late antique and early medieval Latin lyric, in relation to which he has identified new notated sources and developed analytical techniques for assessing a musical tradition previously presumed to lie beyond detailed commentary. This research has resulted in new editions of the earliest layer of a continuous European tradition of song.

His undergraduate teaching has concentrated on topics in medieval music and jazz, including courses on plainchant and early polyphony, the Sequence, the music of Hildegard of Bingen, American Jazz (especially from the 1940s onwards), Miles Davis and the Blues. At the graduate level, he jointly taught the main Introduction to Musicology course for several years. He has supervised MPhil theses on medieval music and jazz, and is currently supervising PhD theses in the musical writings of al-Kindi, the performance of Minnesang, the performance of Old French verse narratives, and Sequences in the Winchester Troper.

He retains an interest in performance. He collaborated closely with the professional group Sequentia, resulting in contributions to several concert programmes and a CD titled Boethius: Songs of Consolation - Metra from 11th-century Canterbury. He continues to direct, perform, and record with a number of vocal groups based in Cambridge, is a Trustee of De Profundis, and is Associate Director of Music at the Church of Our Lady of The Assumption and The English Martyrs.

Sam Barrett is co-editor of the Journal of Musicology and on the editorial board of Early Music History.


Key publications: 


1. The Melodic Tradition of Boethius "De consolatione philosophiae" in the Middle Ages, Monumenta Monodica Subsidia Series VII, 2 vols., Bärenreiter, Kassel, 2013


2. Corpus Rhythmorum musicum saec. iv-ix I Songs in Non-Liturgical Sources 1. Lyrics (ed. F. Stella and S. Barrett), SISMEL (Edizioni del Galluzzo), Florence, 2007 - also online:

3. [Musical edition of 'Anni Domini notantur' within:] Corpus rhythmorum musicum saec. iv-ix IV Rhythmi compustici 1. Anni Domini notatur in praesenti linea (ed. Chiari Savini, I. Volpi and S. Barrett) SISMEL (Edizioni del Galluzzo), Florence, 2021, 108-113.

4. [Musical edition of 'Salve Abba mitissime’ and ‘O sacrata dies’ in:] Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Material Restoration: A Fragment from eleventh-century Echternach in a nineteenth-century Parisian Codex, Brepols, Turnhout, 2009, 136-40.



5. ‘Music and Writing: On the Compilation of Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale lat. 1154’, Early Music History 16 (1997), pp. 55-96

6. ‘Ritmi ad cantandum: Some Preliminary Editorial Considerations’, Poesia dell’alto medioevo europeo: manoscritti, lingua e musica dei ritmi latini (ed. F. Stella), SISMEL (Edizioni del Galluzzo), Florence, 2000, pp. 397-419

7. ‘On Editing Neumatic Notations of Rhythmical Verse’, Poesia dell’alto medioevo europeo: manoscritti, lingua e musica dei ritmi latini II (ed. E. D’Angelo and F. Stella), SISMEL (Edizioni del Galluzzo), Florence, 2003, pp. 149-170

8. ‘Two New Sources for the Poetry of Paulinus of Aquileia’, in Paolino di Aquileia e il contributo italiano all’europa carolingia (ed. P. Chiesa), Forum – Società Editrice Universitaria Udinese, Udine, 2004, pp. 25- 50

9. ‘The Rhythmical Songs of Paulinus of Aquileia’, Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 40/1 (2005), pp. 53-73

10. ‘Stylistic Layers in Early Medieval ritmi ad cantandum’, in Proceedings of the Fourth International Medieval Latin Congress (ed. M. C. Díaz y Díaz and J. M. Díaz de Bustamente), SISMEL (Edizioni del Galluzzo), Florence, 2005, pp. 525-538

11. ‘Reflections on Music Writing: Coming to Terms with Gain and Loss in Early Medieval Latin Song’, in Gewinn und Verlust in der Musikgeschichte: Auf der Suche nach verspielten Optionen (ed. A. Dorschel and A. Haug), Universal Edition, Vienna, 2008, pp. 89-109

12. ‘Music and Liturgy in the Middle Ages’, in Cambridge Companion to Medieval Music (ed. M. Everist), CUP, Cambridge, 2011, pp. 185-204

13. ‘The Sponsorship of Early Medieval Latin Song: The Musical Evidence of Two Carolingian Poetic Collections’, in Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages (ed. P. Binski and E. A. New), Harlaxton Medieval Studies XXII, Shaun Tyas, Donnington, 2012, pp. 122-40

14. ‘Neumes in a Ninth-Century Verse Collection and the Early History of Messine Notation at Laon’, Études Grégoriennes 40 (2013), pp. 161-189

15. 'New Light on the Earliest Medieval Songbook', in Manuscripts and Medieval Song: Inscription, Performance, Context (ed. Helen Deeming and Elizabeth Leach), CUP, Cambridge, 2015, pp. 9-34

16. 'Creative Practice and the Limits of Knowledge in Reconstructing Songs from Boethius' On the Consolation of Philosophy', Journal of Musicology 36 no. 3 (2019), pp. 261-294

17. ‘Latin Song at the Abbey of Sankt Gallen from c. 800 to the Liber ymnorum’, Early Music History 38 (2019), 1-50.

18. 'Music as Gloss in Newly Discovered Notations for Horace's Odes', The Musical Quarterly 104.3-4 (2022), 341-69.

19. 'Glimpses of Carolingian Song: A Laon Verse Collection Reconsidered', in Music in the Carolingian World: Witnesses to a Metadiscipline.  Essays in Honor of Charles M. Atkinson, ed. Graeme Boone, Brepols: Turnhout, 2022, 37-56.

20. 'Musical Time in Performance of Medieval Latin Song’, in Il tempo nell’alto medioevo.  Spoleto 13-19 April 2023, Fondazione Centro Italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, Spoleto, 2024, 981-1012.

21. 'The Performance of Medieval Latin Song', in Latin Literatures of Medieval and Early Modern Times in Europe and Beyond: A Millennium History, ed. F. Stella, L. Doležalová and D. Shanuza, Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages: Problem Series, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2024, 465-84.


22. ‘Kind of Blue and the Economy of Modal Jazz’, Popular Music 25.2 (2006), pp. 185-200

23. ‘Modal Jazz’, Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World VIII Genres: North America, ed. D. Horn, Continuum, New York and London, 2012, pp. 334-33

24. ‘Classical Music, Modal Jazz, and the Making of Kind of Blue’, Dutch Journal of Music Theory 16.1 (2011), pp. 53-63


25. ‘S. Wälli, Melodien aus mittelalterlichen Horaz-Handschriften: Edition und Interpretation der Quellen’, Early Music History 23 (2004), pp. 283- 305

26. ‘Performing Medieval Music’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130.1 (2005), pp. 119-135

27. ‘Jan. M. Ziolkowski, Nota Bene: Reading Classics and Writing Melodies in the Early Middle Ages’, Early Music History 28 (2009), pp. 241-8

28. 'James Grier (ed.), Ademari Cabannensis opera liturgica et poetica: Musica cum textibus', Early Music History 33 (2014), pp. 259-271


29. ‘Boethius’ & ‘Paulinus of Aquileia’ in The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology (ed. J. R. Watson and E. Hornby), Canterbury, 2013


Early Music, Popular Music, Medium Aevum, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Plainsong and Medieval Music, Early Medieval Europe


30. Sequentia, Boethius: Songs of Consolation.  Metra from 11th-century Canterbury, with Ben Bagby, Hanna Marti and Norbert Rodenkirchen, Glossa: GCD922518, released 22 June 2018