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Dr Sam Barrett

Dr Sam Barrett

Chair of the Faculty Board of Music

Reader in Early Medieval Music

Director of Studies, Pembroke College


Sam Barrett is Reader in Early Medieval Music and Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies 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 researches and teaches 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 focussed 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. He also has an active research interest in American jazz of the 1950s and ’60s.

His undergraduate teaching has concentrated on topics medieval music and jazz, including courses on Plainchant and American Jazz (especially from the 1940s onwards). At the graduate level, he has jointly taught the main Introduction to Musicology course for several years, as well as a shorter course on Conceptions of Music in the Late Antique and Medieval Worlds. He has also supervised an MPhil thesis on contemporary Spanish jazz.

Sam Barrett is a co-editor of Music & Letters and on the editorial board of Early Music History. He previously held a Junior Research Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship and an initial appointment in the Faculty of Music as a Newton Trust Lecturer.

Colleges, Departments and Institutes

Pembroke College:

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



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

4. ‘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

5. ‘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

6. ‘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

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

8. ‘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

9. ‘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

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

11. ‘The Sponsorship of Early Medieval Latin Song: The 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, Donington, 2012, pp. 122-40

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


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

14. ‘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

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


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

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

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


19. ‘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