Helen Golding Lynch Scholarship Essay

Response to Charlotte C. Gill article on music and notation – full list of signatories

Posted: March 30, 2017| Author:Ian Pace|Filed under:Music - General, Musical Education | Tags:barbara eichner, brian ferneyhough, camden reeves, charlotte c gill, chi-chi nwanoku, david eastwood, david warburton, fiona cunningham, franklin cox, gillian moore, gordon munro, helen grime, howard goodall, ian pace, james galway, james macmillan, jim aitchison, Joan Arnau Pàmies, kevin korsyn, marc yeats, mark everist, marshall marcus, michael nyman, michelle james, music, musical notation, Norman Lebrecht, peter tregear, simon rattle, the guardian|

[Addendum: See my follow-up article to this, ‘The insidious class divide in music teaching’, The Conversation, 17 May 2017]


An article in The Guardian by Charlotte C. Gill (‘Music education is now only for the white and wealthy’, Monday 27 March 2017), has generated a good deal of attention amongst a wide range of international musicians, music educators, academics, and others. Below is the letter compiled for publication in The Guardian in response to Gill’s article, and a full list of over 700 signatories to date. The letter was compiled by Joan Arnau Pàmies, Kevin Korsyn, Franklin Cox, Barbara Eichner and myself, while Jim Aitchison, Marc Yeats, Camden Reeves and others have been extremely helpfully with its dissemination. It is published on the Guardian website here, and appeared in the print edition for Thursday 6 April 2017 (‘Risky romanticisation of musical illiteracy’, p. 32). Some replies are printed here.

Also recommended are the response to Gill’s article by Michelle James, and an earlier article on musical literacy by Peter Tregear. See also this excellent responses by Pamela Rose , this by Helen Sanderson,  this by George Bevan, this by George A. Smith, this by Christian Morris, and this by Frances Wilson. Also the coverage on Slipped Disc, in Limelight magazine, and on Arts Professional, and an article from the Latin Mass Society (of which James MacMillan, a signatory below, is a patron), focusing in particular on Gill’s comparison of reading music to learning Latin. Another recent blog article considers the article in the context of changing expectations in UK secondary education, while composer and teacher Des Oliver has made an important podcast with Tigran Arakelyan about the article, and I have also made an extended podcast with Arakelyan, considering the article and wider issues of musical education, notation, literacy, privilege, and more.

For an utterly contrasting view to that of Gill, strongly advocating reading (and sight reading), composition, and musical history, being available to all schoolchildren by right, see this 1945 pamphlet by the Workers’ Music Association (hardly the voice of the wealthy), especially pages 5-6. Speaking personally, I think many of the recommendations in this pamphlet are as relevant now as they were 72 years ago. I have also blogged an inspiring defence of the teaching of Western classical music and literacy by Estelle R. Jorgensen, which I believe to be highly relevant to this debate.

I will happily add other names to the list: if you wish to be added, please post underneath with your name and how you would like to be described.

[Earlier addendum material on related subjects is included at the bottom of this post – this and the above constitute my own thoughts, not those of the signatories]


Charlotte C. Gill (‘Music education is now only for the white and wealthy’) argues that ‘to enable more children to learn [music], we must stop teaching in such an academic way.’ While rightly noting the increasing chasm between state and private education in terms of music provision, her conclusions about musical notation and theoretical skills amount to simple anti-intellectualism.

Gill dismisses the study of music ‘theory’ and argues patronisingly that musical notation is ‘a cryptic, tricky language (…) that can only be read by a small number of people’. This claim flies in the face of countless initiatives over two centuries making musical literacy available to those of many backgrounds. As with written language, musical notation enables effective and accurate communication, as well as critical access to huge amounts of knowledge. In many musical fields, those without it will be at a deep disadvantage and dependent upon others.

Gill’s comments about ‘limited repertoires of old, mostly classical music’ are unfounded and presented without evidence: composing, listening, singing, and playing are embedded in much musical education, which also widely encompasses jazz, popular, and non-Western traditions. Claiming that classical music comprises a limited repertory is inaccurate: composers have been adding to its repertory for centuries and continue to do so. We agree with Gill that aural and other skills are equally important as those in notation. However, through her romanticisation of illiteracy, Gill’s position could serve to make literate musical education even more exclusive through being marginalised in state schools yet further.

Alex Abercrombie, pianist and mathematician
Louise Ableman, freelance pianist and piano teacher
Richard Abram, editor
Juliet Abrahamson, erstwhile music teacher, and festival director
Peter Adriaansz, Composer, composition teacher, Royal Conservatory, The Hague
Jean-Louis Agobet, composer, professor of composition at Bordeaux Conservatory (France)
James Aikman, Composer in Residence, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
Jim Aitchison, composer and graphic score artist
Helen Alexander, freelance musician
Helen Alipaz, Piano teacher and former music tutor at Ruskin Mill College, Nailsworth
Timothy Allan, singer, academic
Ralph Allwood, music teacher
Claire Alsop, Musician
Dr Pedro Alvarez, composer, Adjunct Lecturer, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
Peter Amsel, author and composer (of notated music); former Musical Director of the Espace Musique Concert Society. Ottawa, Canada
Paul Andrews, Anglican priest with PhD in music, former music librarian and choral conductor
Samuel Andreyev, composer and teacher
Leonie Anderson, viola player and teacher
Tigran Arakelyan, youth orchestra conductor, Off the Podium podcast
Genevieve Arkle, PhD candidate in Music, University of Surrey
Newton Armstrong, Senior Lecturer in Composition, City, University of London
Christophe Astier, Clarinetist, Ensemble Orchestral de Toulouse, France
Jessica Aszodi, vocalist, doctoral candidate, Queensland Conservatorium of Music
Man Bun Au, Classical guitarist, Adjunct Lecturer, Hong Kong Baptist University
John Aulich, composer, freelance tutor in composition and theory, and recording artist.
Patrick Ayrton, conductor and harpsichordist, Professor at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague
Emily Baines: State school educated performer, lecturer, musical director and DMus candidate (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
Brendan Ball, trumpeter and educator
Joshua Ballance, Music student
Simon Ballard, Concert Pianist and Composer
Nicholas Bannan, Associate Professor of Music, University of Western Australia
Richard Bannan, singer, conductor and Head of Singing, King’s College School, Wimbledon
Stephen Barber, Retired music teacher
Alejandro Barceló, musicologist and music theorist
Daniel Barkley, composer and PhD candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast
Matthew Barley, cellist
Keith Barnard, composer
Lester Barnes, composer, producer, and former music teacher
Kristina Baron-Woods, Lecturer in Music Theatre, University of Western Ontario
Richard Barrett, composer, Institute of Sonology, The Hague
Bernardo Barros, composer, improviser, Ph.D. Candidate/Teaching Assistant at New York University
Pam Barrowman, clarinettist, singer, teacher
Stephen Barton, composer (Titanfall 1 & 2, Call of Duty)
Nicholas Bartulovic, freelance composer, student of Politics, Philosophy, and History, Ashland University
Jane Becktel B.Mus.(Hons) Dip. Ed., Choir director
Pierre-Michel Bédard, Organist, composer, teacher at Limoges Conservatory
Adam Bell, composer, doctoral student, Brunel University
Prof David J. Benson FRSE, author of Music: A Mathematical Offering (CUP 2006)
Margaret Bent CBE, FBA, Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College
Niels Berentsen, PhD (Royal Conservatoire of The Hague)
Peter van Bergen, director LOOS Foundation/Studio LOOS, The Hague
Rebecca Berkley, Lecturer in Music Education, University of Reading
Mark Berry, Senior Lecturer in Music, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dr Steven Berryman, Director of Music City of London School for Girls
Noel Bertram, Retired Head of Cumbria County Music Service
Dr Christopher Best, freelance composer, fiction writer and university lecturer
George Bevan, Director of Music, Monkton School
Dr. C.M. Biggs, performer; Director of Piano Studies, Cambrian College
Sue Bint, Music teacher, violinist
Sylvia Bisset, private piano teacher
James Black, MSt. in Musicology, University of Oxford
Deborah Blackmore BSc ACA scientist, chartered accountant and trustee of a children’s music education charity
Kate Blackstone, freelance musician, PhD researcher, University of Leeds
Darren Bloom, composer, Lead Tutor for Composition and Musicianship, Junior Trinity
Yvonne Bloor, Master of music, teacher and composer
Andrew Bottrill, pianist
Mark Bowden, freelance composer; Reader in Composition, Royal Holloway, University of London
Geraint Bowen, director of music at Hereford Cathedral
Andrew Bowie, jazz musician, Professor of Philosophy and German, Royal Holloway, University of London
Laura Bowler, composer, vocalist, Lecturer in Composition at Royal Northern College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Karen Boyce, pianist/accompanist and music teacher. New Zealand
Martyn Brabbins, ENO Music Director, RCM Visiting Professor, Huddersfield Choral Society music director
Susan Bradley, freelance tuba, ophicleide, serpent, cimbasso player
David Braid, composer
Heather Bradshaw, violinist in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Brewerton, Principal, Plymouth College of Art
Lewis Brito-Babapulle MA, MSt, FRCO. Head of Academic Music, Trinity School, Croydon
Per Broman, Professor of Music, Bowling Green State University
Anne Brown, primary school music teacher
Harvey Brown, secondary music teacher and musician
Janice Brown, piano teacher
Mariko Brown, teacher, pianist, and composer
Martha Watson Brown Oboist, Composer and teacher of Music Theory
Thomas Brown, composer
Robin Browning, conductor; Conducting Instructor, University of Southampton
Kevin Brunkhorst, Chair, Music Department, St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
John Bryan, performer and Professor of Music, University of Huddersfield
Jason Thorpe Buchanan, composer, PhD Candidate, Eastman School of Music; Artistic Director, the [Switch~ Ensemble]
Lisete Da Silva Bull, professional musician, teacher, educator
James Bunch, Lecturer in composition-theory, KM College of Music and Technology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Sarah Burn, freelance music editor and typesetter; completing a PhD involving notation and critical editing
Steven Burnard Violist BBC Philharmonic , learnt to read music at state school aged 7
Martin Butler, composer, pianist, Professor, University of Sussex
Peter Byrom-Smith, composer
Thomas Caddick, Director of the Tobias Matthay Pianoforte School
Dr Edward Caine, Composer, pianist and researcher for Ex Cathedra
Sara Caine, singer & oboist, GP
Jacqui Cameron, Education Director, Opera North
William Cameron, musician
Rachel Campbell, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Jay Capperauld, composer, saxophonist
Christian Carey, composer and Associate Professor of Music, Westminster Choir College
Gerry Carleston, B Mus, retired violinist and teacher
Stephen Carleston, organist & choir-trainer, music examiner and arranger
Tim Carleston, lay clerk, St George’s chapel, Windsor Castle
Gary Carpenter FRNCM, HonRAM, FRSA. Composer, composition professor Royal Academy of Music and Royal Northern College of Music, BASCA Director
Dr Paul Carr, composer
Philip Cashian, Head of Composition, Royal Academy of Music
Alan Cassar, composer and arranger
Peter Castine, composer, managing editor Computer Music Journal
Sam Cave, BA(Hons) PGdip (RCM), guitarist and composer, tutor in guitar at Brunel University
Roland Chadwick, Composer, Guitarist, Teacher
Oliver Chandler, Visiting Tutor in Historical Musicology, Royal Holloway, University of London
Alexandros Charkiolakis, musicologist, MIAM – Istanbul Technical University
James Chater, musicologist and composer
Eugenia Cheng, mathematician, educator and pianist
Anthony Cheung, composer, pianist, teacher (University of Chicago), co-artistic director of the Talea Ensemble
Pablo Santiago Chin, Adjunct Instructor, Music Theory and Composition, Saint Xavier University
Unsuk Chin, composer
Ray Chinn, violin teacher
Peter Cigleris, clarinetist, BMus (Hons), PGDip, Royal College of Music
Artur Cimirro, composer and pianist from Brazil
Keith W Clancy, artist/composer/computer musician, Melbourne, Australia
Colin Stuart Clarke, Classical music journalist
Raymond Clarke, pianist
Nicholas Clapton, singer and singing teacher
James Clarke, composer, Researcher, University of Leeds
Julian Clayton, conductor
Robert Coates FRCO(CHM), ARCM. Composer, organist and teacher, Harøy, Norway
Jacques Cohen, Conductor & Composer
Jonathan Cohen, former presenter, Music Time for BBC TV School’s programmes
Chris Collins, Head of Music, Bangor University
Rob Collis, singer and composer
Sarah Connolly, opera singer and teacher
Saskia Constantinou, Media Consultant and arts festival director
Dr. David Conway, music historian, Honorary Research Fellow, University College London
James Cook, University Teacher in Music, University of Sheffield
Rachel Cook BA MA, Pianist, orchestral musician and educator
Imogen Cooper, pianist
Brian Cope, composer, music educator and PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh
Roger Coull, violinist leader of the Coull Quartet, and conductor
Tom Coult. Composer, Visiting Fellow in Creative Arts, Trinity College Cambridge
Emma Coulthard, flautist, author and head of Cardiff County and the Vale of Glamorgan Music Sevuce
Franklin Cox, Associate Professor of Theory, Cello, and Composition, Wright State University
Mairi Coyle. Participation & Outreach Manager, National Children’s Orchestras of GB
Stephen Coyle, composer and PhD candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast
Ruth Crouch, Assistant Leader at Scottish Chamber Orchestra & violin teacher at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland & St. Mary’s Music School
Francis Cummings, violinist and Director of Music at Sistema Scotland, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Simon Cummings, composer, writer, researcher, PhD candidate, Birmingham Conservatoire
Fiona Cunningham, CEO, Sistema England
Harriet Cunningham, music critic, writer and doctoral student at UTS, Australia
David Curran, freelance music educator, PhD Candidate, Royal Holloway, University of London
Caroline Curwen, PhD student Psychology of Music, Sheffield University
Dr. Mat Dalgleish, Senior Lecturer in Music Technology and Course Leader for MSc Audio Technology, University of Wolverhampton
Giovanni D’Aquila, composer, composition teacher
John Daszak, opera/concert singer
Steven Daverson, composer, Lecturer in Composition and Sonic Arts, Brunel University London
Colin Davey, Education Programmes Manager, Royal School of Church Music, teacher and conductor
Julian Davis, amateur pianist, Professor of Medicine, University of Manchester
Gavin Davies, freelance violinist
Edward Davies, Head of Music, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, Bristol
Jill Davies MusB, classical music artist manager and concert promoter, passionate amateur musician
Tansy Davies, composer
Rebecca Dawson, General Manager, Music at Oxford
Rebecca Day, Visiting Lecturer, Royal Holloway, University of London; Tutor in Music Theory and Analysis, University of Oxford
Caroline D’Cruz, B.Mus, ARCM, LRAM pianist and choral conductor
Nathan James Dearden, Performance Manager and Visiting Tutor in Music Composition, Royal Holloway University of London
Cornelis de Bondt. Composer, teacher Royal Conservatoire, Den Haag, NL
Lonnie Decker, Musician and Educator
João Pedro Delgado, viola, PhD researcher, Universidade de Évora, ESART-IPCB
Caroline Delume, Guitarist, teacher
Simon Desbruslais, trumpet soloist and Director of Performance, University of Hull
Dr. Luis Dias, founder and project director of Child’s Play India Foundation (www.childsplayindia.org), a music charity working to bring music education to India’s disadvantaged children
Josephine Dickinson, former music teacher, composer, and poet
Joan Dillon, Director of The Academy of Sacred Music/Voice Teacher
Alison Dite, pianist and teacher from Cardiff
Sarah Dodds, piano teacher, Associate Lecturer in music, The Open University
Emily Doolittle, composer, Athenaeum Research Fellow, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Sean Dowgray, percussionist, D.M.A: UC San Diego
John Duggan, composer, singer, teacher
Andrew Eales, pianist, writer and teacher
Leslie East, Chair, The Association of British Choral Directors; former CEO, ABRSM
Christiana Eastwood, Head of Music at The Granville School, Sevenoaks
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor, University of Birmingham
Jason Eckardt, Professor, City University of New York
Dr Paul Max Edlin, composer, Director of Music Queen Mary University of London, Artistic Director Deal Festival of Music and the Arts
Katheryne Perri Edwards, music educator for 37 years
Malcolm V. Edwards, Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Barbara Eichner, Senior Lecturer in Music, Oxford Brookes University
Aaron Einbond, composer, Lecturer in Music, City, University of London
Dr Graham Elliott; Executive Director American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras; Washington DC, USA
Lynne Ellis, Chief Executive Officer, Berkshire Maestros and lead of the Berkshire Music Hub
Daniel Elphick, Teaching Fellow, Royal Holloway, University of London
Mark Elvin, Bass Guitarist, Double Bassist, Tubist, Composer/Arranger/Transcriber, Educator, Conductor
Nick Ereaut, jazz musician, singer-songwriter, music teacher
Nancy Evans, Director of Learning and Participation, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Tecwyn Evans, conductor
Nick Evans-Pughe, Performer and school instrumental teacher’ (PGDip in instrumental teaching in which l researched the learning by children of (western classical) notation.)
Mark Everist, Professor of Music, President of the Royal Musical Association (signing in a personal capacity)
Judith Exley. Flute teacher and composer. Wellington, New Zealand
Pauline Fairclough, University of Bristol
Daniel Fardon, PhD student in Composition and Teaching Associate at University of Birmingham
Miguel Farías. Composer, PHD(c) in Latin American Studies, associated Professor universidad academia de humanismo Cristiano , Chile
Tony Faulkner, Independent classical recording producer and engineer
Greta Fenney, therapist
Adam Fergler, composer, arranger, and conductor
Laetitia Federici, freelance pianist and peripatetic piano teacher
Anneke Feenstra, mother of a musician
Cal Fell BA Hons LRAM Freelance musician State Educated
Professor Brian Ferneyhough, Stanford University
Coia Ibàñez Ferrater, Director of Xilofon Elementary School of Music
Jeremy Filsell, Professor of Organ, Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore USA
Janet Fischer, Soprano, Teacher, Managing Director Fulham Opera
Jonathan Fischer, TV Composer, Songwriter
Chris Fisher-Lochhead, composer and violist
Dr Kevin Flanagan, Senior Lecturer in Music, Anglia Ruskin University
Dr Alexandra Fol, composer; conductor and organist at Missione Maria Ausiliatrice, Montréal, Canada
Miriam Forbes, Director of Music, Witham Hall School
Peter Foster. Music Teacher
Christopher Fox, composer, Professor of Music, Brunel University, editor of TEMPO
Cheryl Frances-Hoad, composer
Luke Fraser MMus, composer and Piano Teacher for Arts First
Brigid Frazer, Kodaly based Early Years Music Specialist
Judith Fromyhr, Senior Lecturer in Music, Australian Catholic University
Tor Frømyhr, Coordinator of Strings Australian National University
Hugh Fullarton, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, Wangaratta
Alvaro Gallegos, music scholar, journalist and record producer
Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway, flautists
Tom Gamble, MMus Guitarist
Brian Garbet, composer, PhD candidate, University of Calgary, Canada
Ash Gardner, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, music educator, New York, NY
James Gardner, composer, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Eloise Garland, Musician, Teacher, and Deaf Awareness Campaigner
Tim Garrard, Director of Music, Westminster School
Mark Gasser, pianist
Ben Gaunt, Senior Lecturer Leeds College of Music, Tutor Open College of the Arts
Andrew Georg, repetiteur, State Opera of South Australia, organist
Patricia Giannattasio, Professor of Music, Bergen College in New Jersey; PhD candidate at The Graduate Center
Sean K. Gilde, ‘cellist with Astaria String Quartet, Head of Strings Dragon School Oxford
Don Gillthorpe, Director of Music and Performing Arts, Ripley St. Thomas CE Academy
Hannah Gill, pianist, organist, choral conductor and music teacher
Karen Giudici (Turner) ex professional freelance clarinettist, current primary and secondary music teacher
Rob Godman, Composer, Reader in Music at the University of Hertfordshire
Nigel Goldberg, Artistic Director, Youth Music Centre
Miles Golding BMus, LTCL, LRSM, free-lance violinist, teacher of violin, viola, music theory
Richard Gonski, Conductor Torbay Symphony Orchestra
Howard Goodall CBE, Composer, Broadcaster, Music Historian
Liz Goodwin, teacher, founder/director Flutewise
Sumanth Gopinath, Associate Professor of Music Theory, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
Adam Gorb, Head of School of Composition, Royal Northern College of Music
Stephen Goss, Professor, University of Surrey
Mark Gotham, Affiliated Lecturer, University of Cambridge
Dr. Barbara Graham, Retired Professor, Ball State University and amateur violist
Dr Michael Graham, postgraduate researcher, Royal Holloway; tutor, Rhondda Cynon Taff music service
Penny Grant, Singing Teacher and Soprano
Simon Gravett dip.TCL, Head of Music the Elmgreen School
Coady Green, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
Robert Green, pianist, accompanist, jazz musician
Gavin Greenaway, composer, conductor, pianist
Helen Grime, composer, Senior Lecturer of composition at Royal Holloway University of London
Nicole Grimes, Assistant Professor of Musicology, University of California, Irvine
Jennifer Guppy, British national, resident in France. Class music teacher, at a Primary school and private piano and flute teacher
Christine Gwynn, conductor, pianist, coach, music workshop leader
Kerry L Hagan, Composer, Lecturer, University of Limerick
Stefan Hagen, Dilettant
Iain Hallam, singer and musical director of a cappella choruses
Marc-André Hamelin, pianist
Benedict Hames, viola player, Symphonie Orchester des bayerischen Rundfunk
Ross Hamilton, Peripatetic Percussion Teacher, Cornwall Music Service Trust
Helen Hampton, Director, Popchoir
Radka Hanakova, pianist
J. P. E. Harper-Scott, Professor of Music History and Theory, Royal Holloway University of London
Patrick Harrex, composer and Musical Director of Brighton & Hove Arts Orchestra
Dr. John Mark Harris, music educator and pianist
Sadie Harrison, secondary school peripatetic teacher of piano and music theory; composer and lecturer
Tom Harrold, composer, Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Northern College of Music
Edward-Rhys Harry, conductor, composer
Béla Hartmann, pianist
Andrea Hartenfeller, organist, singer, teacher, Hesse/Germany
Per Hartmann, music publisher, Edition HH Ltd
David Harvey, D.Phil music, composer, guitarist, technologist, ex-CTO Sibelius, Tido
Waka Hasegawa, pianist, piano duettist and piano teacher
Katie Hassell, Senior Spacecraft Engineer, pianist and cellist
Arngeir Hauksson, Guitarist, Lutenist and music teacher
Jeremy Hawker B.mus, M.Teach, L.mus, professional guitarist and instrumental tutor at Townsville Grammar School
Steve Hawker, Inclusion Manager, Cornwall Music Service Trust
Sam Hayden, composer and academic, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Morgan Hayes, Professor of Composition, Royal Academy of Music
Benjamin Hebbert, Director, Benjamin Hebbert Violins Limited
Piers Hellawell, composer and Professor of Composition, Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland
Andrew Henderson, singer, keyboard player, secondary school Director of Music, primary school governor, committee member, MMA – Music Teaching Professionals
Áine Heneghan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, University of Michigan
James Heron, violinist and violist
Ken Hesketh, composer, Lecturer, Royal College of Music
Helen Heslop, piano student, concert promoter
Anne-Marie Hetherington, Music Director and Head of Creative Arts in a successful secondary school, singing teacher, conductor
Gavin Higgins, composer
Rolf Hind, pianist, composer and teacher (Guildhall School of Music and Trinity Laban)
Maggie Hinder, GRSM ARCM ARCO, freelance music teacher and chorister
Alistair Hinton, composer, curator, The Sorabji Archive
James Hockey, musician, teacher, conductor
Jason Hodgson BMus (composer, disabled, and now studying MMus)
Ros Hoffler ABRSM examiner
Alison Holford, cellist and lover of sight-reading
Klaas ten Holt, composer, writer, composition teacher at Prins Claus Conservatorium, Groningen, the Netherlands
Michael Hooper, Lecturer in Music, University of New South Wales, Australia
Julian Horton, Professor of Music, Durham University
Tim Horton, pianist
Janet Hoskyns, Professor Emerita, Birmingham City University
Stephen Hough, pianist
Yvonne Howard, Opera/ Concert Singer & Professor of Singing
Dr Jocelyn Howell
George Huber, singer and mathematician
Dr David Russell Hulme, Director of Music and Reader, Aberystwyth University, musicologist and conductor
Alexander Hunter, composer and performer, Australian National University
Derek Hurst, Associate Professor of Composition, Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory
David Hutchings, conductor
Anne Margaret Hyland, Lecturer in Music Analysis and Admissions tutor at the University of Manchester
Miika Hyytiäinen, composer, doctoral student, University of the Arts Helsinki
Michael Ibsen, Classical Guitarist Mmus, British Columbia Conservatory of Music
Grahame Gordon Innes, composer
Professor John Irving, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London
Steven Isserlis, cellist
Dr Jenny Jackson, composer & private piano teacher
Stephen Jackson, conductor, choral director, composer and arranger
Julian Jacobson, musician
Alison James, Head of Music, Kelvin Hall School, professional musician, performance moderator
Lara James, tutor of saxophone, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Senior Associate teacher, Bristol University
Willem Jansen, performer and teacher, The Netherlands
Joel Jarventausta, composer and conductor, masters student at the Royal College of Music
Kate Johnson, Promotion & Communications Director, Music Sales Limited
Stephen Johnson, writer, broadcaster & composer
Fergus Johnston, Composer
Allan Herbie Jones, composer, musician, teacher.
David Jones, Head of Accompaniment, Royal Northern College of Music; Deputy Head, Junior RNCM
Gordon Jones, singer, former member of The Hilliard Ensemble
Jeremy Peyton Jones, composer, Reader in music, Goldsmiths University of London
Julia Jones Teacher of Music, City of London School
Georgina Jordan, pianist and teacher
Susanna Jordan, tutti 1st violin, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Frauke Jurgensen, musician, Lecturer, University of Aberdeen
Jari Kallio, music journalist
Matthew Kaner, Professor of Composition Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Rob Keeley, composer and pianist, King’s College
Susan Keeling, music graduate, arts administrator, amateur musician, parent
N W Kenyon, retired teacher
Dorothy Ker, Composer, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield
Dr Steve Kershaw, jazz musician, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education
Isla Keys MA (Hons) ATCL PGCE, music teacher, singing & piano teacher, committee member MMA-Music Teaching Professionals
Christopher Kimbell, Visiting Tutor in Historical Musicology, Royal Holloway, University of London; peripatetic teacher in music theory
Owen Kilfeather, composer and writer
Andrew King, Professor of English Literature – and avid reader of music
George King, Head and Senior Lecturer (retired), Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology, University of South Africa
Helen Kingstone, Postdoctoral Researcher in History, Leeds Trinity University (and pianist and choral singer)
Professor Andrew Kirkman, Peyton and Barber Professor of Music, University of Birmingham
Patricia Kleinman, Musicóloga
Grahame Klippel, Guitarist, Kingston University
Ruth Knell,  violinist, English National Ballet. Learnt to read music initially at the age of 6/7 in recorder lessons at an infant school on a council estate in the 60s
Annabel Knight, head of recorder, Birmingham Conservatoire
Kathryn Knight, CEO Tido Music and a director/founder of Sing Up
Matthew Lee Knowles, composer + piano teacher
Allan Kolsky, Orchestra Musician, Syracuse, NY
Kevin Korsyn, Professor of Music Theory, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Toni J. Krein, President of the Association of Swiss Professional Orchestras
Uday Krishnakumar, Composer
Prof. Dennis Kuhn, Head of the percussion and timpani dept, University of Music and Performing Arts Mannheim, Germany
Henny Kupferstein, piano teacher
Yannis Kyriakides, Composer, teacher Royal Conservatory, The Hague
Dr David Lancaster, Director of Music at York St John University
Vanessa Lann, composer, teacher
Jerry Lanning, conductor and arranger
Thomas Larcher, musician
David Lawrence, conductor
Andrew C Leach, organist, choirman in four cathedral occasional choirs
Elizabeth Eva Leach, Professor of Music, University of Oxford
Yekaterina Lebedeva, concert pianist, professor of piano Trinity Laban Conservatoire, visiting lecturer City, University of London
Norman Lebrecht, writer and broadcaster
Kelvin Lee, PhD Candidate in Musicology at Durham University, Conductor
Christian Leitmeir, Magdalen College, University of Oxford
Erik Levi, Visiting Professor in Music, Royal Holloway University of London
Sally Lewis, pianist and teacher
Rebecca Leyton-Smith, Cellist and Cello Teacher at Uppingham School
Mu-Xuan Lin, Composer, and Lecturer at California State University Long Beach
PerMagnus Lindborg, composer, Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design, and Media, Singapore
Dr Alexander Lingas, Reader in Music, City, University of London; Fellow, European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford; Music Director, Cappella Romana
Tomasz Lis, concert pianist, teacher
Maureen Lister, Euphonium player
Rodney Lister, faculty department of composition and theory, Boston University School of Music, faculty The New England Conservatory Preparatory School
Lore Lixenberg, Experimental voice artist, Mezzo, Composer
Daniel Lloyd, Musician and author of No Notes piano music (tablature) designed to help beginners make a start with learning how to read and to play piano music.
Rick Longden, Lecturer in Music, Musician etc
Dave Longman, drummer, percussionist, teacher and author of “Skins Drum Performance Method”
Nick Loveland, COO, Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall
Sonia Lovett, television director of opera and classical music concerts
Shay Loya, Lecturer in Music, City, University of London
Neil Luck, composer, performer, music educator
Karl Lutchmayer, Senior Lecturer, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Frances M Lynch, singer, director, composer, teacher
Graham Lynch, composer
Tracey Mair, freelance piano and vocal tutor
Joshua Banks Mailman, Instructor of Music Theory, University of Alabama
Charles MacDougall, founding member of VOCES8, currently Choral Specialist for The Voices Foundation
Nigel McBride, Composer, BMus (Hons), MSt. in Composition (Oxon.), DPhil in Music (Oxon.)
Rachel McCarthy, doctoral candidate and visiting tutor, Royal Holloway, University of London
Paul McCreesh, conductor, founder and artistic director, Gabrieli
Maggie McCoy, Choral Arts administrator and choral musician
Elizabeth Macdonald, violist and arts administratorGeraldine McElearney, GSM,singing and piano teacher
Simon McEnery, singer, musical director (Salisbury Chamber Chorus), Associate Lecturer at the University of Chichester
Neil McGowan, Production Staff, Stanislavsky-Muzykalny Opera/Ballet Theatre, Moscow
Andrew McGregor, Broadcaster, BBC Radio 3
Jennifer Mackerras, recorder player; Alexander Technique tutor at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
John McLeod, composer
Sir James MacMillan, composer, conductor
Peter McMullin, Printed Music Specialist, Blackwell’s Music Shop
Stuart McRae, Composer, Lecturer, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Jason Matthew Malli, composer, sound designer, performer, producer, educator, arts advocate
Martin Malmgren, pianist
Kevin Malone, Reader in Composition, University of Manchester
Julien Malaussena Composer
Jane Manning, singer
Marshall Marcus, CEO European Union Youth Orchestra, President Sistema Europe
Daniel Margolin QC, lawyer, amateur musician and parent
Kypros Markou, Professor of Music, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI (graduate from Royal College of Music, London and New England Conservatory, Boston)
Katherine Marriott, mezzo-soprano
Daniela Mars, Flutist
Les Marsden, Founding Music Director/Conductor: The Mariposa (CA) Symphony Orchestra, Composer, Lecturer, University of California and Instrumental Musician
Andy Marshall, Senior Lay Clerk, Bristol Cathedral
Chris Marshall, Head of Professional Development, Birmingham Conservatoire
Barnaby Martin, composer
Domingos de Mascarenhas (DPhil) musicologist
Sandy Matheson, Nordoff Robbins music therapist
Alison Mathews MMus BMus(hons)RCM ARCM, composer, private teacher, pianist
Colin Matthews, composer
David Matthews, composer
James Mayhew, artist and narrator
Gijs van der Meijden (The Netherlands). Microbiologist by profession, not a musician in any practical sense, but a deep lover thereof
Cecília Melo, Magistrate
Virgílio Melo, composer
Miguel Mera, head of Music, City, University of London
Chris Mercer, composer, Lecturer, Northwestern University
Nathan Mercieca, Teaching Associate, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University
Jonathan Midgley, lay clerk, Ely Cathedral
Max Midroit, pianist
Chloe Millar, violinist, freelance musician and teacher
Richard Miller, Composer, Arranger/Orchestrator, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Christopher Brooks Composition Prizewinner, Director of Music, St Michael’s Church, Camden
Sasha Valeri Millwood, MA (Cantab.) MMus (GSMD), musician, musicologist, & doctoral researcher, University of Glasgow
David Milsom, Head of Performance, University of Huddersfield
Ruth Milsom, freelance teacher of piano and music theory, and accompanist
William Alberto Penafiel Miranda, Composer/Pianist at Queens College (Aaron Copland School of Music
Madeleine Mitchell, state-school educated violinist, professor, Royal College of Music
Cara Ellen Modisett, pianist, Episcopal music director and essayist
Kerry A. Moffit, Master Sergeant (Retired), United States Air Force Bands and Music Career Field, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Orchestra Musician (lead and jazz trumpet), Grammy winner, and professional musician for 40+ years.
Alison Moncrieff-Kelly, cellist, music educator, and examiner
Josephine Montgomery, violinist, early years string teacher
Ivan Moody, composer, CESEM – Universidade Nova, Lisbon
Adrian Moore, composer, Reader in Music, University of Sheffield
Gillian Moore, Director of Music, South Bank Centre
Eva Moreda Rodriguez, Lecturer in Music, University of Glasgow
Dittany Morgan, former Sub principal Viola BBC symphony and teacher of Violin/ Viola
Huw Morgan, freelance choral director and organist
Kate Morgan, Director of Music, Harrogate Ladies’ College
Katie Morgan, flautist, music writer, and flute and music theory teacher
Michael Morse, composer, educator
Tim Motion, Photographer and musician
Catherine Motuz, trombonist
Thomas Mowrey, former producer for Deutsche Grammophon and Decca
Theresa Muir, Ph.D. Musicology, conductor and singer
John Mulroy chorister at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Gordon Munro, Director of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Tommy Murtagh, cellist and educator
Rachel Musgrove, director, daytime choirs for retirees
Rachel Neiger, Pianist and teacher
Lisa Nelsen, Flute player, artist for Yamaha International, Tutor for Junior Guildhall School and former Specialist Flute Tutor at Wells Cathedral School, UK
Thi Nguyen , GSMD, IoE (MA in Music Education), violinist and teacher
Mike Nichols, Bassist. ACM lecturer, ABRSM consultant. Regularly work in orchestras and non reading bands
George Nicholson, composer, Professor in Composition, University of Sheffield
Marten Noorduin, Postdoctoral research assistant, University of Oxford
Kirk Noreen, Founder/Director, Ensemble Sospeso, New York, Composer
Mariko North, pianist
Dr Patrick Nunn, Lecturer in composition, Royal Academy of Music, London
Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE, double bassist, Founder, Artistic Director Chineke!
Richard Nye, BA (Hons) FLCM PGCE, teacher and composer
Michael Nyman, composer
Lady Anita O’Brien, Violinist/ Music Teacher
Dolors Olivé Vernet, music teacher, Headmaster, Teresa Miquel i Pàmies Elementary School
Des Oliver, composer
Philip Olleson, Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology, University of Nottingham, and Immediate Past President, The Royal Musical Association
Nicholas Olsen, composer
Clare Orrell, primary school headteacher and music graduate
Jill Osborn BMus, private piano teacher
Richard Osmond, Director of Music, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School
Ursula O’Sullivan, music teacher and musician, CSN College of Further Education, Cork, Ireland
Rebecca Oswald, composer, pianist, former faculty at the University of Oregon School of Music
Luke Ottevanger, Director of Music, composer
Martijn Padding, head of composition department, Royal Conservatory, Den Haag
Ian Pace, pianist, Lecturer, Head of Performance, City, University of London
Professor Carrie Paechter, Head of .Educational Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London
Christopher Painter, composer, brass bandsman, lecturer, music publisher, trumpet player. Barry, South Wales
Joan Arnau Pàmies, composer, Aural Skills Instructor, Northwestern University
Dr Tom Pankhurst, Music Teacher and Author
Tom Parkinson, composer and sound designer, Royal Holloway, University of London
Ben Pateman, Flautist and retired music producer
Anthony Payne, composer
Jenny Pearson, freelance cellist, teacher at Severn Arts Worcester
Michael Pearson, professional violinist
Jane Peckham BMus, MA, School Governor, Double Bassist
Tim Pells, Head of Guitar and Lecturer, Colchester Institute and Centre for Young Musicians
Chris Pelly, Concerts Series Administrator, University of Leeds
Damian Penfold, conductor and primary school governor
Ian Penwarden-Allen, choral conductor and teacher of music
Selah Perez-Villar, pianist and music educator
Lola Perrin, piano teacher, composer
Dr. Jeffrey Peterson, Associate Professor of Vocal Coaching/ Opera Conductor
Baylor University, Waco, TX
Theodore R Peterson, Composer
Joe Pettitt BMus(hons), bassist, bandleader and teacher of jazz bass and electric guitar at Westminster School and Trinity School, Croydon
Stephen Pettitt, writer and critic
James Philips, Classical Guitarist and self taught music reader
John Pickard, composer and Head of Music, University of Bristol
David Pickett, Former Prof., Indiana University School of Music, conductor, musicologist, tonmeister
Oliver Pickup, composer
David Pickvance, film and TV composer, composer-in-residence to the BBC
Jenni Pinnock, composer and instrumental tutor
David Pinto, performer with the Jaye Consort and musicologist, contributing editor to two volumes of Musica Britannica
John Pitts, composer and music teacher
Stephen Plaice, librettist, Writer in Residence Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Tamasine Plowman MA
Lara Poe, composer and pianist, graduate student at RCM
Irini Urania Politi, artist, teacher, amateur musician
Rosie Pollock, BMus MA (learned notation aged 6/7)
Benjamin Pope, Conductor working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestras
Francis Pott, Professor of Composition & Head of Research, London College of Music, University of West London
Caroline Potter, Reader in Music, Kingston University
Eleri Angharad Pound, freelance harpist and composer, amateur choir singer
Jonathan Powell, pianist
Mark Powell, Conducting Scholar / ALP Faculty, Eastman School of Music
Steph Power, composer, critic, writer on music
Gillian Poznansky, flute player and examiner
Scott Price, Director of Music, The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
Dr Nicholas Stefano Prozzillo
Toby Purser, conductor
Peter Puskás, promoter and artist manager
Irene Quirmbach, violin instructor at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, IL (USA), active freelance violinist
Giovanni Radivo, concertmaster, Orchestre national de Lyon (France)
Caroline Rae, Reader in Music and pianist, Cardiff University
Lorenda Ramou, pianist, musicologist
Sanna Raninen, Research Associate, University of Sheffield
Torsten Rasch, composer
Nadia Ratsimandresy, ondist and Professor of onde Martenot and ondéa, Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Boulogne-Billancourt
Manvinder Rattan, CEO and Head of Conductor Training, Sing for Pleasure
Sir Simon Rattle, conductor, principal conductor, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor-elect, London Symphony Orchestra
Robert Rawson, Reader in Music, School of Music and Performing Arts, Canterbury Christ Church University
Steven Reale, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH
Carla Rees, Music Programme Leader, Open College of the Arts
Camden Reeves, Professor and Head of Music, University of Manchester
John Reid, pianist and teacher
Chris Rice, Director, Altarus Records
Sally Richardson, Artist Manager; owner of Tashmina Artists
Christiaan Richter, composer
Dr Tim Ridley, Director of Music, Glenalmond Gollege
Judith Robinson, Creative Project Leader for Education, Sound and Music
Heather Roche, clarinettist, co-editor of TEMPO
Dr Marc Rochester, lecturer in music history and criticism, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore
Paul Rodmell, Head of Music, University of Birmingham
Carlos Rodriguez, pianist, conductor and MBA from ChileJames Roe, President & Executive Director, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York City
Martin Roscoe, pianist, Professor, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Pamela Rose, ABRSM Theory Examiner, Music Educator
Daniele Rosina, Director of Orchestral Studies University of Birmingham, Conducting Tutor, Birmingham Conservatoire
Luke Roskams, retired violinist
Tish Roskams, B.Mus retired music teacher
Toby Roundell, composer and educationist
Rebecca Rowe, composer and music educator
Cyrilla Rowsell, Kodály specialist, teacher at GSMD and for the British Kodály Academy, co-author of Jolly Music
Edward Rushton, composer and pianist
Julian Rushton, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Leeds
Isabelle Ryder, private piano teacher
Leo Samama, composer, musicologist, educator and author (The Netherlands)
Abel Sanchez-Aguilera, pianist and biochemist, Madrid
Helen Sanderson, Winston Churchill Fellowship in guitar education, Artistic Director of National Youth Guitar Ensemble, CEO of Guitar Circus, guitar professor at RWCMD
Anthony Sandle, opera singer
James Savage-Hanford, freelance singer and Visiting Tutor in Theory & Analysis at Royal Holloway, University of London
Melinda Sawers, Director of Music, Wadhurst, Melbourne Grammar School (Australia)
Paul Scanling, Music Director, Marietta Symphony Orchestra
Brian Schembri, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
Jonathan Schranz, Choral Conductor, London
Thomas Schmidt, Professor of Music, University of Manchester
William James Schmidt, pianist & composer, MMusPerf (University of Melbourne), MA (MUK Vienna)
Christian Schruff, Journalist – Musikvermittler, Berlin
Annelies Scott ARAM, cello and music theory teacher
Fred Scott, founder, Soundpractice Music
Matthew Scott, Professor of Composition, University of Southampton; Head Of Music, National Theatre (retired)
Peter J D Scott, Teaching Fellow, University of Bristol
Robert Secret ARAM, conductor & viola player
Florian Scheding, University of Bristol
Jeffrey Siegfried, saxophonist, doctoral candidate, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Linda Shaver-Gleason, PhD Musicology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Susan Sheppard, teacher of cello at RNCM and Trinity Laban and teacher of Latin
Daniel Sherer, professor of architecture, Columbia University and lifelong pianist and music lover
Rachel Shirley, Music teacher; PhD researcher in Music Education, Lancaster University
Andre Shlimon, musician and teacher
Robert Sholl, University of West London and The Royal Academy of Music
Martin Shorthose, Cantor and Choir Director, Antiochian Orthodox Church in the UK. Ex Layclerk at Coventry and Liverpool Cathedrals
Alexander Sigman, composer, researcher and educator
Angela Elizabeth Slater, Composer
Jeremy Silver, conductor, pianist, vocal coach
Nigel Simeone, music teacher, English Martyrs’ Catholic School
Mark Simpson, BBC Philharmonic Composer in Association and former BBC Young Musician of the year 2006
Wendy Skeen, BMus(Hons), Guildhall School of Music & Drama; Freelance pianist and piano teacher
M I Skinner, M.St. (Mus)(Oxon), PG Dip MTPP, ALCM, Dip ABCD. Musician, teacher, conductor, and musicologist
Shirley Smart, jazz cellist, musicianship and improvisation teacher, City, University of London, and Royal College of Music Junior Department
Ben Smith, pianist and composer, postgraduate student, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Charles J. Smith, Slee Chair of Music Theory, University at Buffalo
David J. Smith, Professor of Music, University of Aberdeen
George Smith, composer and freelance piano/voice teacher, University of Southampton graduate
Harriet Smith, music journalist
Steve Smith, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist
Tim Smith, Director of Music, St. Mary Harrow on the Hill/Arts Faculty Leader, Heathland School
John Snijders, pianist and Associate Professor of Music Performance, Durham University
Ernest So, concert pianist
Peter A. Soave, Concert Accordionist, Founder Peter Soave Music Academy, in Sauris Italy
Stephen Soderberg, Senior Specialist for Contemporary Music (retired), Music Division, Library of Congress
Zoë South, (state-educated) professional opera singer, singing teacher
Clare Southworth, Professor of Flute RAM
Shauna Spargo, amateur violinist, soprano in the local church choir (learned to read music at 6 when I had free violin lessons at a state primary school)
Jeroen Speak, freelance composer and teacher
Simon Speare, Head of Composition and Contemporary Music, Royal College of Music Junior Department
Mic Spencer, Associate Professor of Music, University of Leeds
Jane Spencer-Davis. Accountant specialising in musicians and violist
Mary Stagg, Primary Music specialist
Sarah Steinhardt, piano teacher, Greenwich Academy, CT USA
James Michael Stergiopoulos, retired electronics engineer
Adam Stern, conductor (Seattle Philharmonic, Sammamish Symphony), Seattle WA, USA
Clare Stevens, music journalist
Susanne Stanzeleit, violinist, tutor, Birmingham Conservatoire
Peter Stoller, songwriter, music writer, popular music archivist and historian at Leiber/Stoller Productions
Danny Stone, brass teacher, former classroom teacher (state sector U.K.)
Denise Stout, Choral Director
George Strickland, freelance oboist, postgrad at Royal Northern College of Music
Ashley Sutherland, music librarian, freelance clarinettist
Owain Sutton, private instrumental teacher
Professor Bill Sweeney, composer
Aleks Szram, Academic Lecturer and Piano Professorial Staff, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Caitriona Talbot BA Mod, freelance music tutor, Sefton
Diego Jiménez Tamame, composer
Gábor Tarján, composer, percussionist, Musical Director Het Filiaal
Christopher Tarrant, Lecturer in Music, Anglia Ruskin University
Mark Tatlow, conductor, educator, researcher Department of Culture & Aesthetics, University of Stockholm
Michelle Taylor-Cohen, Violinist, educator & arranger
Alun Thomas, professional violinist /Alexander Technique Coordinator Trinty Laban
Marisa Thornton-Wood, professor of piano, Royal Academy of Music
Paul Timms, music teacher, pianist, violinist & conductor
Phillip Tolley, Choral Music Advocate, British Choirs on the Net
Mikel Toms, conductor
Daniel Tong, pianist. Founder, Wye Valley Chamber Music. Head of Piano in Chamber Music, Birmingham Conservatoire
Julian Tovey, singer and lecturer, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Simon Toyne, Executive Director of Music, David Ross Education Trust
Peter Tregear, Professor, Royal Holloway, University of London
John Traill, Director of Music, St. Anne’s College, Oxford University; Director, Oxford Conducting Institute
Natalie Tsaldarikis, pianist, teacher, PhD student, City, University of London
Kathleen Tynan, Head of Vocal Studies and Opera, Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin
Fredrik Ullén, pianist, professor of cognitive neuroscience
Luk Vaes, pianist, reseacher, teacher
Maura Valenti BM, The Juilliard School; MM, Yale School of Music; current MPhil student in musicology, University of Oxford
John Van der Slice, composer
Dr Edward Venn, Associate Professor of Music, University of Leeds
Massimiliano Viel, Composer and Professor at Conservatory of Milan, Italy
Simon Vincent, composer, performer, and former Visiting Lecturer at City University London, University of Bayreuth, University of Potsdam and University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
Matthew Vine, volunteer music teacher (Kampala, Uganda)
Andrea Vogle, Percussion Tutor RNCM, JRNCM, Chetham’s School of Music
Zerlina Vulliamy, prospective university music student and DfE Music Scholar RCMJD
Alison Wahl, soprano, singer-songwriter, and music teacher
Charlie Wakely, Physics teacher and amateur musician
Helen Wallace, Kings Place Music Foundation, Soundsense Music
Neil Wallace, Programme Director, Doelen Concert Hall, Rotterdam
Richard Wallace, violist Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, viola tutor Bangor University
David Warburton MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Select Committee on Music Education
John Warburton BMus Hons Tonmeister, Associate Lecturer, University of Surrey Department of Music and Media
Dr Michael Ward, concert pianist, conductor and composer
Philippa Ward, pianist, teacher, Wellington, New Zealand
Jenny Warren, maths teacher and classical soprano who learned to sight read at state school
Celia Waterhouse, Piano Teacher, Music Educator, Lead Editor for British Kodaly Academy Songbook
Ashley Wass, pianist
Huw Watkins, composer and pianist
Hannah Watson, secondary school music teacher, violinist
Rachel Watson, cellist, cello teacher with experience of secondary school teaching
Trevor Watt, former music student, now lawyer
Dr Richard Wattenbarger, musicologist, Adjunct Instructor, Music Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sarah Watts, Associate in Music Performance at Sheffield University, bass clarinet tutor RNCM, Clarinet tutor at Nottingham University
David Way, violinist/violist/teacher
Philip Wayne, Headmaster, Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, also Musician
James Webb, Director of Music, Hull Collegiate School
Gillian Webster , Opera Singer and teacher
James Weeks, composer, Associate Head of Composition, Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Marcus Weeks, composer and jazz and reggae trombonist
Richard Whalley,  Senior Lecturer in Composition, University of Manchester
Mike Wheeler, music writer and adult education tutor, WEA
Simon Whiteley, BMus, Lay Clerk at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and founder member of The Queen’s Six, a cappella ensemble
Adam Whittaker, Post-doctoral researcher (Music and Music Education), Birmingham City University
Dr Anthony Whittaker, composer, piano teacher and examiner
Sally Whitwell, composer, pianist. BMus(Hons) ANU, Australia
Joanna Wicherek, pianist and teacher
Judith Wiemers, PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast
Charles Wiffen, Assistant Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Bath Spa University
Louise Wiggins, PhD student, University of Bristol; harpist; and peripatetic music teacher
Emma Wild, Freelance Violist
Christopher Wiley, National Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Surrey
John Willan, former EMI producer and Managing Director London Philharmonic
Ceri Williams, music teacher
David Carlston Williams, Organist and Music Teacher
Victoria Williams AmusTCL BA music theory teacher
James Williamson. Composer, PhD candidate at the University of York
Chesterton K. Whiteman, adjunct professor of composition, Oral Roberts University
Dr Alexandra Wilson, Reader in Music, Oxford Brookes University
Andrew Wilson, Freelance musician, and Head Teacher, Teesside High School
Jay Wilkinson, flute and theory teacher
Katherine Williams, Lecturer in Music and Head of Performance, Plymouth University
Frances Wilson LTCL (AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist); pianist, writer, and teacher
Jayne Lee Wilson, Music Lover & Reviewer, FoR3 Forum
Natalie Windsor, BaHons PgCert (Birmingham Conservatoire), Mezzo soprano, jazz singer and music teacher
Lorraine Womack-Banning, pianist, piano teacher, adjudicator
Jaye Wood, BA Hons, freelance classical piano and voice teacher
Toby Wood, Music recording engineer and producer
Liz Woodhouse, piano teacher
Ronald Woodley, Professor of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University
Catherine Woodman. Head of Keyboard Studies at Redmaids High School and examiner
Kenneth Woods, Artistic Director, English Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Woolmer, Organist, teacher, Director of Music, Oakwood School, Purley
David Wordsworth, conductor and agent
Dr Emily Worthington, freelance clarinettist/Lecturer, University of Huddersfield
Andrew Wright, School of Education, University of Buckingham
Elspeth Wyllie, Pianist, Teacher, member of the ISM
Catherine Wyn-Rogers, opera singer and teacher
Anna Wyse, B.Eng. M.Sc.(Eng), AIEMA
Joshua D. Xerri, Sub-Organist (St Alphege, Solihull), singer, composer
Amit Yahav, pianist, doctoral student, Royal College of Music
Paul Yarish, pianist, Registered Piano Technician, organ student
Marc Yeats, composer and visual artist
Nina C. Young, Assistant Professor of Music Composition & Multimedia Performance, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Toby Young, composer, Junior Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Jay Alan Yim, composer, Associate Professor of Music, Northwestern University
Alistair Zaldua, composer and conductor, visiting lecturer in Music, Canterbury Christ Church University
Mirjam Zegers, music consultant, teacher, amateur pianist
Nicolas Zekulin, Chief Executive & Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland
Patrick Zuk, Associate Professor in Music, Durham University
Julio Zúñiga, composer, graduate student, Harvard University
Rasmus Zwicki, composer

[ADDENDUM: Since first placing this letter online, I have been alerted to two relevant phenomena: the Department of Music at Harvard University have now removed a requirement to study theory, or Western art music history, from their core curriculum . Worse, Texan musicologist Kendra Leonard has created a ‘Privilege Walk’ for musicians, a way of publicly shaming those who, for example, were taught music theory (no. 12), care about notated music (no. 19), can read more than one clef (no. 36), or had advanced instruction in a foreign language (no. 39). It is not clear from Leonard’s biography if she teaches regularly at an institution, but certainly such ‘privilege walks’ exist elsewhere in the US; I will blog more about this on another occasion. In case anyone is unclear, as stated above this addendum does not form part of the letter to which signatories put their name and represents a personal view.]

Interactive Workshop on Musical Denazification and the Cold War at LSE Conference, March 28, 2017

Posted: March 22, 2017| Author:Ian Pace|Filed under:Culture, Germany, Music - General, Musical Education, Musicology, New Music, Politics | Tags:anthony d. smith, cold war, denazification, London School of Economics, occupied germany|

On March 28th, 2017, 11:40-13:10 I will be giving a workshop on ‘Music, Identity and Nationalism with Reference to the Third Reich and early Cold War Period’, at the ASEN Conference on Anthony D. Smith & The Future of Nationalism: Ethnicity, Religion and Culture’, taking place at the London School of Economics. The conference takes place over March 27-28, 2017, and my workshop will take place from 11:40-13:10 on the 28th, open to conference participants. Places are still available for the conference; full details, and a programme for the conference can be found at https://asen.ac.uk/conference-2017/ .

The purpose of this workshop is to engage with the issues of nationalism as affected German musicians and those working in the music world, through interactive roleplay relating to denazification procedures in each of the four zones of occupied Germany – American, British, French and Soviet.

A series of four ‘legends’ have been created, each relating to a real individual; two composers, one pianist and composer, and one music journalist and writer. Each faced denazification in different zones. Participants are invited to take the role of one of these legends in a mock denazification hearing, which I will be directed in the role of Chief Interrogator. He will question the participant on the nature of their activities during the Third Reich, including questions relating to the aesthetics of their work, and they are offered the chance to reply and defend their record. Others are invited to take role in the ‘defence’ or ‘prosecution’ team, interspersing comments where appropriate relating to the case in question. These requires only study of the legends themselves (those who wish to join the prosecution will be provided with a little extra information unknown to the individual being interrogated).

If time permits, in the final half hour of the workshop I will direct a wider discussion cultural/political agendas relating to the Cold War in Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain, as relate to music and nationalism. Some questions to be considered include whether supposedly ‘internationalist’ aesthetic agendas might be viewed in terms of a type of ‘Western European pan-nationalism’ (which has also informed culture in the EEC/EU) or conversely these are less solidly geographically rooted. Another is how in the Eastern Bloc, musical traditions with historical connections to those found elsewhere in Europe and further afield were modified in accordance with the dominant role of the Soviet Union and Russian musical traditions, not least in light of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from most of Eastern Europe.

Introductory Bibliography

Biddiscombe, Perry. The Denazification of Germany: A History 1945-1950. Stroud: Tempus, 2007.

Chamberlin, Brewster S. Kultur auf Trümmern. Berliner Berichte der amerikanischen Information Control Section July – Dezember 1945. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979.

Clemens, Gabriele, ed. Kulturpolitik im besetzten Deutschland 1945-1949. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1994

Clemens, Gabriele. Britische Kulturpolitik in Deutschland 1945-1949: Literatur, Film, Musik und Theater. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1997.

Heister, Hanns-Werner and Klein, Hans-Günter, eds, Musik und Musikpolitik im faschistischen Deutschland. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1984.

Janik, Elizabeth. Recomposing German Music: Politics and Tradition in Cold War Berlin. Leiden, Brill & Biggleswade: Extenza Turpin, 2005.

John, Eckhard. Musik-Bolschewismus. Die Politisierung der Musik in Deutschland 1918-1938. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1994.

Kater, Michael. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and their Music in the Third Reich. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Kater, Michael. Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Linsenmann, Andreas. Musik als politischer Faktor: Konzepte, Intention und Praxis französischer Umerziehungs- und Kulturpolitik in Deutschland 1945-1949/50. Tübingen: Narr, 2010.

Monod, David. Settling Scores: German Music, Denazification, and the Americans, 1945-1953. Chapel Hill, NC and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Pike, David. The Politics of Culture in Soviet-Occupied Germany, 1945-1949. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Prieberg, Fred. Handbuch Deutsche Musiker 1933-1945. CD-ROM, 2004, revised version 2009.

Riehtmüller, Albrecht, ed. Deutsche Leitkultur Musik? : zur Musikgeschichte nach dem Holocaust. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2006).

Scherliess, Volker, ed. »Stunde Null«. Zur Musik um 1945. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2014.

Steinweis, Alan E. Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Thacker, Toby. Music after Hitler, 1945-1955. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

Music into Words – Morley College, Sunday February 12th, from 1:15 pm

Posted: February 6, 2017| Author:Ian Pace|Filed under:Academia, Higher Education, Music - General, Musical Education, Musicology | Tags:adrian ainsworth, frances wilson, ian pace, kate romano, katy hamilton, leah broad, morley college, music into words, neil fisher, peter donohoe, simon brackenborough, tom hammond|

This coming Sunday, February 12th, will see a mini-conference, the second major event organised by Music into Words, whose declared aim is ‘to bring together all kinds of writers about classical music – journalists, musicians, academics, bloggers and music lovers – to share their perspectives and discuss common issues in a positive, inclusive and friendly environment.’

This event will take place at The Holst Room, Morley College, London SE1, from 1:15 to 5 pm on Sunday, February 12th, 2017, and I will be on the panel. Other participants are world-leading pianist Peter Donohoe, Deputy Arts Editor of The Times Neil Fisher, writer, musician and researcher Katy Hamilton, music researcher and journalist Leah Broad, conductor Tom Hammond, clarinettist, composer and creative producer Kate Romano, and writer Adrian Ainsworth. It will be hosted by Frances Wilson (whose blog Cross-Eyed Pianist is here – you can read my interview with Frances here) and founder and editor of Corymbus.co.uk, Simon Brackenborough. Tickets, which are selling fast, can be booked here. Fees are £10 + £0.75 booking fee through Early Bird, £5 + £0.58 booking fee for students.

The order of events will be as follows:

1.15pm – arrival/registration and welcome

1.30 – Panel 1:
Speakers: Katy Hamilton, Adrian Ainsworth & Tom Hammond
with Peter Donohoe and Neil Fisher

Followed by audience Q&A/discussion

3.00 – Tea break (the refectory Morley College will be open for refreshments)

3.30 – Panel 2:
Speakers: Ian Pace, Kate Romano, Leah Broad

Followed by audience Q&A/discussion

Flash Gordon
Kurosawa films
Joseph Campbell
Personal Myth
Lord of the Rings

2001: Space Odyssey
Forbidden Planet
The Wizard of Oz
E.E. "Doc" Smith

The Droids
Imperial Walkers
Other stuff
More other stuff

Storytelling Lessons
Other Science Fiction
Message Board

This article is also available in Russian, translation by
Vitaly Chikharin, and Italian, translation by Luca Mariot.

Frank Herbert's 1963 Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of The Rings is to fantasy: the most popular, most influential and most critically-acclaimed novel in the genre. Herbert's novel was a revelation: before Dune, even the most well-written science fiction had been mostly "wonderful gadget" stories, or political commentary expressed through exaggeration. It had never occurred to anyone that science fiction could offer the literary depth of Dostoevsky, the intricate "wheels within wheels" intrigues of Shakespeare or so deeply fulfill the heroic epic form behind Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Le Morte D'Arthur, The Mahabharata, and Beowulf.

Lucas has often acknowledged Dune as an inspiration. In early drafts of the Star Wars script the influence was much more obvious - the story was full of feudalistic Houses and dictums, and the treasure the Princess was guarding wasn't the Death Star plans, but a shipment of "aura spice." The final version of Star Wars is related to Dune mostly in spirit: a science fiction heroic fantasy treated seriously. Of all the ideas George Lucas inherited from Frank Herbert, the subtle lesson was how to use science fiction to create myth. His lesser borrowings might include:

Star Wars
Princess Leia Princess Alia (pronounced a-leia)
Villain turns out to be hero's father Villain turns out to be hero's grandfather
Tatooine a desert planet Arrakis (Dune) a desert planet
Sandcrawler - Vehicle piloted by Jawas, "left over from a forgotten mining era long ago" Sandcrawler - Vehicle piloted by Arrakins, used to mine for spice
Moisture Farmers (like Uncle Owen) Dew Collectors: "...used by Fremen to line concave planting depressions where they provide a small but reliable source of water"
Spice Mines of Kessel (mentioned in passing) Spice is the most valued commodity in the universe, mined from Dune
Jedi Mind Trick - Jedi ability which controls the actions of others The Voice - Bene Gesserit ability which controls the actions of others
Jedi Bendu, the Jedi training technique which gives them excellent internal control as well as supernatural prowess in combat Prana Bindu, the Bene Gesserit training technique which gives them excellent internal control as well as supernatural prowess in combat2
Vision of Obi-Wan appears to Luke on Hoth, while he's seemingly dying Vision of Pardot Kynes appears to Liet-Kynes in the desert, while he's dying
The Trade Federation has a monopoly on shipping in space The Spacing Guild has a monopoly on shipping and transportation in space
Luke practices his lightsaber technique against an automated training remote Alia practices her sword technique against an automated training dummy
Millennium Falcon barely escapes from the jaws of giant, sightless space slug before it falls back into the asteroid. The Duke's ornithopter barely escapes from the jaws of a giant, sightless sandworm before it falls back into the dunes.
Luke spies on the Sandpeople using electrobinoculars Paul spies on the Fremen using electric binoculars
Repulsors - Small devices which counteract gravity (used in the landspeeder, speeder bikes, pod racers and Jabba's barge) Suspensors - Small devices which counteract gravity (used to suspend the Baron Harkonnen and Glowglobes)
Jabba (1983) is a worm/slug thing, about 15 feet long, with human-like facial features, arms and hands, who sits atop a dais Leto II, God Emperor of Dune (1981), is a worm/slug thing, about 15 feet long, with human-like facial features, arms and hands, who sits atop a dais

Illustration courtesy of Justine Shaw, ©1999.


Frank Herbert (1920-1986) was an unusually bright boy who grew up with sporadically alcoholic parents during the Great Depression. He spent a lot of time alone, out exploring nature or swept away by "love affairs" with authors including Ezra Pound, Guy De Maupassant, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway. On his eighth birthday Herbert announced his intention to be a writer when he grew up. By the time Herbert was twelve he had read and absorbed the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Herbert spent the first half of his life working mostly as a reporter. He had a formidable mind, but success eluded him. In 1956 he published his first novel, Dragon in the Sea, about submarine warfare in the near future. Herbert observed that it was silly to use giant metal ships to transport liquids which weigh less than water, and so invented the idea of a giant rubber balloon, shaped like a sandworm, which could be dragged across the ocean's surface by a much smaller, much less-expensive boat. Beginning in 1958 the British Dunlop company began to produce and sell Herbert's idea, as the Dracone Barge. The name "Dracone" (Latin for "dragon") was an overt acknowledgement that they got the idea from Herbert's novel. Arthur C. Clarke and Fritz Leiber recommended that Herbert take legal action, but he discovered that the two-year "discovery period" after publication of his book had elapsed, so it was too late to file patents.

As he neared 40, Herbert began to grow anxious about ever achieving his dream: to become an accomplished, rich and famous author. He resolved to buckle down and sculpt his masterpiece. Herbert devoted the next 5-7 years to researching and writing "the desert novel." He had two primary starting points: first, his life-long misgivings about what he called the "messianic impulse in human society." That is, he observed that people seem to have an inbuilt hunger for a powerful, charismatic leader to whom we can surrender our responsibility for making difficult decisions. Hebert observed that even the best leaders are humans, those humans have flaws, and elevating any man to a position of god-like power tends to magnify those human flaws to dangerous proportions. Worse, even if the original leader resists the temptation to abuse power, the bureaucracy which springs up around him will outlive him, and over time a bureaucracy becomes more and more incented to prioritize its own needs over the needs of people.

Herbert's second major starting point was They Stopped the Moving Sands, an article he'd written in 1958 about the United States Department of Agriculture's ecological experiments in Florence, Oregon. The USDA found that they could prevent the sand dunes from overwashing the highways simply by planting barriers of grass! Herbert chartered a single-engine Cessna airplane and flew over the experiment to take notes and photographs. As he watched the dunes roll by below, Herbert was suddenly seized by a powerful emotional surge. He realized that "...A sand dune is just a kind of fluid, only it takes longer for it to move. It creates waves that, when you see them from the air, are analogous to waves in a sea."1 The San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle's California Living magazine never published the article, but Herbert had caught the spark he'd been looking for; the seed he would nurture into Dune.


Much science fiction of Herbert's day was limited by the idea that SF was a completely new genre. Because of this many writers looked only as far as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe or Mary Shelly for their inspirations, reaching back only 200 years. Herbert understood that science fiction is less a genre than a modern vocabulary through which to express the oldest genre in the world, the fantastic tale (the oldest stories of every known culture are almost exclusively fantastic tales). Because he saw the fantastic tale as a continuum reaching back past Wells and Verne through the Greek epics, Herbert was able to reach back not 200 years, but 3,000. In a way this gave him a 15:1 advantage over the average SF writer!

Herbert innovated in one other major way: in his day, science fiction was seen mostly as a way to express mind-expanding ideas through story, but the idea was the star, and the story itself was mostly seen as a "coat hanger" for the idea to hang on. Characters in science fiction were typically flat, plots were contrived and dialogue stilted and unrealistic. Herbert drew on his extensive self-education to marry science fiction with some of the strongest elements from literature, history, mythology, Eastern religions, mathematics, science and his personal life. A few of his most notable inspirations include:

William Shakespeare's Plays, particularly Hamlet (written 1601), but also Macbeth (1606), King Lear (1605), The Tempest (1610) and others. Paul carries his father's signet ring, as did Hamlet. Paul learns the true mood of his people by walking among them in disguise, like Henry the V. Herbert's most obvious borrowing is probably the climax of Hamlet, in which the hero publicly duels with his minor adversary, who carries a poisoned blade, while his major adversary looks on. Hamlet's conversation with the ghost of his dead father is echoed in the conversation between Liet Kynes and the ghost of his dead father Pardot Kynes (which I suspect was the inspiration for Luke's conversation with the ghost of Obi-Wan on Hoth). Paul's home planet, Caladan, echoes the sound of Shakespeare's character Caliban. Shakespearian scholars have noted that "Caliban" is probably a sneaky respelling of "cannibal," a common Shakespearean technique for teaching our unconscious a character's essential nature. The Caladan-is-based-on-Caliban theory is reinforced by Herbert's invention of the Caleban aliens in his subsequent novel Whipping Star.

Shakespeare conveyed his characters' thoughts by having them make asides, moments where they spoke directly to the audience, openly revealing their inmost thoughts. "Should I kill my uncle and sleep with his wife? What is life all about, anyway? I wonder how many jellybeans I could fit in my mouth?" Herbert adapted this idea to print by showing character thoughts in italics.

Herbert also borrowed Shakespeare's convention of occasionally writing passages in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter, which he would disguise as standard unmetered prose. For example, Romeo and Juliet proclaim their love to each other in perfect sonnet form. Shakespeare's plan seemed to be to inspire an elevated emotional response in his audience by triggering their poetic response subliminally, without them being aware of it. The first writer to introduce the "metered verse hidden in prose" idea into Science Fiction was almost certainly A.E. Van Vogt (1912-2000). Herbert took it much further, burying not only sonnet form (14 lines of iambic pentameter), but several other forms, including haiku. This same technique was borrowed by Tolkien for his Tom Bombadil character, probably also inspired by Shakespeare.

Like Herbert, Lucas and Tolkien, Shakespeare's writing was an innovative compression and refashioning of his inspirations. His favorite was Arthur Golding's 1567 translation of Metamorphoses, by Publius Ovidius Naso ("Ovid", 43 BCE - 17 CE). For more information on Shakespeare's influences, check out the extraordinarily useful Narrative and Dramatic Sources of all Shakespeare's Works. Or explore a family tree tracing Shakespeare's influences back to Homer, Sappho and Callimachus!

It's no coincidence that so many major sources for Star Wars were influenced by Shakespeare: Dune, The Lord of the Rings, Forbidden Planet and Kurusawa (Kurosawa's Ran, 1985, was a remake of King Lear). For example, Shakespeare's Macbeth revolves largely around Macbeth's reaction to the Prophecy of the Witches. The audience is faced with genuinely deep questions like "Could Macbeth have defied the prophecy by acting differently? Or is fate predestined?" Macbeth's Prophecy of the Witches was modified by Tolkien (the witch's cauldron changing to Galadriel's Mirror), then modified again by Lucas ("Help them you could..."). Herbert's version of The Prophecy was delivered by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam - the "head witch," as Macbeth's prophecies were delivered by the head witch Hecate; on the very first page of Dune Paul overhears Mohiam say, "And if he's really the Kwisatz Haderach... well..." The Prophecy in the Matrix is given by The Oracle, a nice allusion to the original source. This evolution of a single idea suggests how truly great stories retain their power to grip us even across barriers of culture, language and time.

So where did Shakespeare get his idea for The Prophecy of the Witches in the first place? Of course, Shakespeare drew from his favorite tragedy:

Oedipus Rex (written 430-415 BCE), by Sophocles: Oedipus Rex (pronounced Eee-di-puss Wrecks, though most Americans mispronounce as Eh-di-puss) was a major inspiration for Shakespeare and the only other serious contender for the "Greatest Tragedy of Western Civilization" title usually awarded to Hamlet. Herbert knew enough about storytelling to trace Shakespeare back through his sources and borrow from both. So far every influential artist I've reverse-engineered has turned out to lean heavily on this trick, so it must be pretty powerful. For instance, when Lucas was unable to get the rights to Flash Gordon he traced it back to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books, then back further still to Gulliver on Mars.

It is from Oedipus Rex that Herbert borrows the underlying theme of prescience (the ability to tell the future) and prophecy (a foretelling of a future event). Everyone wishes they could somehow avoid missteps, but would we really be happy if we could see the future? Would that knowledge give us the power to change things, or does fate just steamroll over our attempts to influence our lives?

The Ancient Greek idea of foretelling the future centered around a shrine called The Oracle at Delphi, established around 1,400 BCE. People would come from all over Greece, Rome and even further to ask when to plant their crops, who to marry, even whether or not to go to war. Prophecies were given by the Pythia, the mouthpiece of Ge the Earth Mother (later changed to the male god Apollo by some men carrying extremely pointy sticks). The Pythia would enter a small room called the Adyton, where she would sit on a tripod over a cleft in the earth, waving laurel branches and smelling the sweet-smelling fumes which came up from below. If she inhaled too much she might becomes delirious or even die, but usually the gas induced a trance, upon which the Pythia would utter cryptic prophesies. The Oracle was built around the sacred spring Delphi, which the Greeks called the Omphalos - the Earth's belly-button. Geologists have recently discovered that Delphi once issued a combination of gasses including hydrocarbon, methane and ethylene. Ethylene is a hallucinogenic, so the Oracle's prophesies seem to have been at least partially the result of a drug trip. I believe that one of the main points of Sophocles' play is, "Hey, let's stop listening to the Oracle! Even if she could tell us the future, knowing the future would be a bad idea. We all need to figure things out for ourselves."

Herbert borrowed several other riffs from Sophocles, including the blind prophet, the hero becoming blind at the death of his wife, and the flawed person being sent out into the wasteland to die (rather than burdening his family and tribe). Herbert also flirted with the subtheme of incest: if love can only exist between equals, there aren't enough superhumans on Arrakis to go around, so Atreides siblings tend to fall in love: Leto II and Ghani follow the Path of Light, refusing to act on their almost romantic love for each other. Alia is in love with Paul, so she arranges for him to chance upon her when she has no clothes on. This attempt to seduce Paul into an incestuous relationship is evidence that Alia has fallen to the Dark Path.

In addition to influencing Shakespeare and Dune, Oedipus Rex has the odd distinction of inspiring an entire field - psychoanalysis! Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) revolutionized psychology by theorizing that myths and dreams are the keys to understanding our unconscious... or at least the myth of Oedipus, the tragic figure who unwittingly kills his father Laius and marries his mother Jocasta. Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) thought using myth to understand the unconscious was a great idea, but observed that people's experiences followed the patterns of many myths, and Freud's fascination with Oedipus reflected not a universal, but Freud's own issues. Jung was also uncomfortable with the fact that Freud was cheating on his wife with her sister, who lived in the same house. Finally, Jung found it hypocritical that Freud wanted to analyze everyone else, but refused to be analyzed himself. Unsurprisingly, Freud interpreted the breakdown of the friendship Oedipally: Jung was the "son" who wishes to "kill the Father" (Freud) and "steal the Mother" (psychoanalysis) for himself. At the risk of going off-topic, I think Freud had a lot of good ideas, but he basically spent his whole life running away from his demons rather than facing them, hiding within the almost total power-imbalance of the psychoanalyst/patient relationship. Because Freud never faced his own issues he never got any better, and so spread as much pain and harmful ideas as good ideas. Jung was half-crazy too (like he probably believed in telepathy and UFOs and stuff), but he knew he was crazy and spent his whole life trying to find the door out of his craziness.

GeekNote: The Ancient Greeks didn't actually call the play Oedipus Rex, but Oidipous Tyrannus. Inspiration for Darth Tyrannus?

Erewhon (1872), by Samuel Butler (1835-1902): In 1863 Samuel Butler wrote an essay entitled Darwin Among the Machines, which combined Darwin's theory of evolution with the Industrial Era, prophesying that one day the machines would become sentient and we would become their slaves. In 1872 he expanded this argument into his most famous novel, Erewhon. The title is a clever play on words: Stories about utopias (perfect societies) have been around at least as long as Plato's Republic, but it was Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) who first coined the term "Utopia," in his 1516 novel of the same name. "Utopia" is literally Greek for "no where," so Butler's satiric book (probably the world's first anti-utopia or "dystopia"), is titled "nowhere" written backwards, more or less: Erewhon. Dune refers to a "Butlerian Jihad," a war which resulted in the outlawing of any machine made to think like a man.

The Brothers Karamazov (1879) by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881): Dostoevsky's book has been called "the world's greatest novel," and even "the most profound piece of philosophy in all of literature." Sigmund Freud called it "one of the peaks in the literature of the world." Maurice Baring wrote, "Supposing the Gospel of St. John were annihilated and lost to us forever; although nothing would replace it, Dostoevsky's work would more nearly replace it than any other book written by any other man."

The most famous section of The Brothers Karamazov is chapter five, "The Grand Inquisitor." It tells the story of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Upon his return Jesus is surprised to discover that even though the Church recognizes him, they're not happy to see him. In fact they toss him in prison. The Grand Inquisitor explains to Jesus that a real messiah is a threat to the modern Church, because of the deal they made with the Romans in 312 CE.

According the New Testament Pilate had posted Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum on the cross above Christ's head, Latin for Jesus the Nazarean, King of the Jews. The early Church honored Christ's sacrifice by inscribing all crosses with the abbreviation INRI. Constantine convinced the Church to change the slogan to In Hoc Signo Vinces, Latin for In This Sign, Conquer. The Roman government began funding the Church, and in exchange the Church proclaimed that the Roman conquests enjoyed the benediction of God.

In the New Testament Christ had refused three temptations from Satan: the temptation to exchange freedom for bread, the temptation to demand a guarantee in exchange for faith, and the temptation to turn his back on God and rule the world. Dostoevsky's Inquisitor claims that by making the deal with Constantine, the Church had succumbed to all three of Satan's temptations. However, the Inquisitor doesn't consider this evil. He says that Christ's rules are too strict, that only a small number of people will ever be good enough to get into Heaven. Therefore the Church follows the advice of the "wise spirit" (Satan) and intentionally tells people comforting lies, so they can at least have peace of mind in this life.

The encounter ends with an echo of Christ kissing Judas: "The old man longs for Him to say something, however painful and terrifying. But instead, He suddenly goes over to the old man and kisses him gently on his old, bloodless lips. And that is His only answer. The old man is startled and shudders. The corners of his lips seem to quiver slightly. He walks to the door, opens it, and says to Him, 'Go now, and do not come back... ever. You must never, never come again!' And he lets the prisoner out into the dark streets of the city. The prisoner leaves."

Herbert plays with Dostoevsky's idea throughout the Dune series, putting Paul in direct conflict with the religion which springs up around him until he's ultimately killed by one of his own priests. Dostoevsky writes eloquently of the terrible, absolute freedom each of us has to reach our own moral conclusions, the necessity of living our own lives from moment to moment. Leto II echoes these words almost exactly.

The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell (1904-1987): Herbert learned a bit about the heroic myth from Campbell's extremely influential analysis. But he was even more influenced by...

The Hero (1936), by Lord Raglan (1885-1964): Like Campbell, Raglan tried to make sense of myth by finding the common underlying patterns. Raglan identified 22 characteristics typical of heroes, thereby implying a "Raglan scale": the more points a character has, the more heroic he is. Paul Atreides scores between 13-17, somewhere between Hercules, Gilgamesh and Captain Kirk. Raglan's book was influenced primarily by...

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1911-1915), by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941). Brian Herbert said this was one of the books his father studied most closely. Frazer's comparative study identified some underlying patterns common to many world myths, including "the mindless animal in the depths of the psyche that guards the pearl of life." Herbert said this was an inspiration on his first two novels, Dragon in the Sea (1956) and the sandworms from Dune.

Science and Sanity; An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (1933), by Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950). Several people have told me that Herbert took a class in General Semantics in San Francisco shortly before writing Dune, and the ideas strongly influenced his development of the Bene Gesserit. I've read all 825 pages of Science and Sanity, and I must admit I found it almost impossible to make sense of. Korzybski is most famous for the phrase "The map is not the territory" and for reputedly originating the practice of making little "quote marks" in the air around a particular spoken word to remind the listener that the word is only an imperfect placeholder for an idea. I think the basic message of his book is "When we confuse words and other signifiers for the unvoicable truths they represent, that misassumption distorts our perception of reality." Korzybski hints that he has discovered a revolutionary new way of looking at the universe that will change everything, but the only meaning I've been able to sift from his book from one reading is a needlessly dense, turgid restatement of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Herbert was probably turned on to General Semantics by fellow science fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt, an enthusiastic supporter of Korzybski and a big influence on Herbert.

Zen Buddhism: Herbert sprinkled Zen ideas throughout Dune. When The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam nonsequiters Paul with "Ever sift sand through a screen?" Herbert next writes, "The tangential slash of her question shocked his mind into higher awareness." This is the technique of the Zen Koan: saying or asking something that sounds like gibberish, but also like it might be incredibly profound, provided you think about it long enough. Zen masters developed this trick to "open up" the mind of their students without filling it with their own opinions. Myth teaches us that all mentors push us towards new ways of thinking, but only dark mentors attempt to make us think just like them. A mentor who walks the path of light teaches us how to open up to the voice from within, not without. The most famous koan in the West is probably "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

Dune mentions the religion of the Zensunni, presumably a combination of "Zen" and "Sunni." The word "Sunni" is the nickname for ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jamaa ("The people who follow the traditions of Muhammad and his tribe", Arabic). The two primary sects of modern Islam are Sunni and Shi'i, with Sunni accounting for 90% of all adherents.

Taoism: Legend has it that sometime around 350 BCE the curator of China's royal library became disgusted with the way people attached to the court lived their lives. This curator, a man named Lao-tzu, gave away most of his possessions and left town on a water buffalo. On his way out of town the guard at the gate asked him to sum up everything he'd learned from his years reading all those books. Lao-tzu wrote the 5,000 character Tao-te-Ching, the "Book (Ching) of the Virtuous (Te) Way (Tao)." The Tao-te-Ching is one of the three most-translated books ever written, along with The Bible and the The Bagavad Ghita, the centerpiece of The Mahabharata. The word "path" as used in both Star Wars and The Matrix, ultimately originates in the Chinese idea of Tao.

The Tao-te-Ching is about balancing yang (literally "in the sunlight") with yin (literally "in the shade"). Westerners have mispronounced yang as yAng for so long that English dictionaries have begun to grudgingly approve, but yang is a word from Mandarin Chinese, so most serious scholar-types pronounce it the way the Chinese do, as "yong." Yin and yang are used to represent hardness and softness, male and female. Keep in mind that yin represents the Chinese idea of female energy, which actively draws male energy, not the Western idea of female energy, which just sits there looking pretty and hoping someone calls. The Five Principles of Yin and Yang are:

1. All things have two facets: a Yin aspect and a Yang aspect
2. Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang
3. Yin and Yang mutually create each other
4. Yin and Yang control each other
5. Yin and Yang transform into each other

Dune alludes to Taoism throughout. The very first line is "A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct." Compare with this fragment of chapter 63 of the Tao-te-ching, Consider Beginnings, as translated by Ursula LeGuin:
Study the hard while it's easy.
Do big things while they're small.
The hardest jobs in the world start out easy,
the great affairs of the world start small.

So the wise soul,
by never dealing with great things,
gets great things done.
One of the most famous chapters in the Tao-te-ching is number 76, Hardness. Here's Ursula LeGuin's translation:
Living people
are soft and tender.
Corpses are hard and stiff.
The ten thousand things,
the living grass, the trees,
are soft, pliant.
Dead, they're dry and brittle.

So hardness and stiffness
go with death;
tenderness, softness,
go with life.

And the hard sword fails,
the stiff tree's felled.
The hard and great go under.
The soft and weak stay up.

Often this idea is summed up in the West as "The reed which bends in the wind survives." Ani Difranco's song Buildings and Bridges alludes to his idea in the lyric "Building and bridges are made to bend in the wind; What doesn't bend breaks." Dune echoes this when the Reverend Mohiam tells Paul, "The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows - a wall against the wind. This is the willow's purpose." The Lynch-directed Dune film makes the point in another way: during the climactic moment in Paul's knife-fight with Feyd, he thinks, "I will bend like a reed in the wind," then allows Feyd to push him to the ground. This moment of softness takes Feyd off-guard and allows Paul to win. It is through man's ability to fight that he gains power, but ultimately yang is about death, yin life. To achieve wholeness a man must learn when to use softness to defeat hardness. All myth tells the story of finding this balance.

As stated above, Herbert's two primary starting-points for the novel were (a) his distrust of the bureaucracies which spring up around messiahs, and (b) the catch in his throat when he flew over the USDA's sand dune experiment. Why did the sand dune experiment capture Herbert's imagination so strongly? Perhaps he'd been searching for a way to convey the essence of Taoism to Westerners, and the USDA's experiment fit this need with an almost miraculous perfection: sands which can wear mountains to nothing restrained by blades of grass.

Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE): Although I have no direct evidence, my intuition suggests that Herbert may have used the real-life story of Alexander the Great as a source. Like Paul, Alexander enjoyed the highest quality education imaginable, receiving instruction in geography, philosophy, ethics, politics, zoology, botany, mathematics, logic, weapons, military strategy, horseback riding, drama, poetry, music (the lyre) and literature (He loved the Iliad and took Achilles as his role model). Like Paul, this education was arranged by his father (King Philip the Second of Macedonia). Also like Paul, Alexander was forced to deal with the assassination of his father when he was still only a young man.

Alexander's tutors included Leonidas, Lysimachus and Aristotle. This unheard of level of education lent Alexander a remarkable quality: as a teenager he exhibited the oddly striking self-possession of an adult (as Alia would in Dune), and as an adult Alexander seemed almost otherworldly. He could make insights and find connections in a way no one else could even approach. Again like Paul, Alexander's nearly superhuman abilities enabled him to conquer almost the entire known world while he was still a young man. Unlike Paul, Alexander started to believe the hype when people told him he was a god.

Alexander was strongly influenced by Greek culture, and the Greeks had borrowed Egypt's idea that if you kicked enough butt as a human being you were eligible for promotion to godhood. The most well-known Egyptian to do this was Imhotep. He was born a commoner, but through his genius rose to be vizier to the Pharoh Djozer (2650-2590 BCE). Imhotep was the inventor of the pyramids, the greatest medical doctor of his time and probably the author of the world's first medical textbook. He probably coined the first word for "brain." He may have invented the egyptian "sleep temples," where people sought the 4,600-year-old forerunners of hypnotism, psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy (how fascinating that psychotherapy and hypnotism began as the same thing!). Imhotep created the foundations for an enormous amount of modern thought, and after his death was promoted to an Egyptian deity. The modern world has sort of repromoted Imhotep into our modern Hollywood pantheon, casting him as the villain in The Mummy movies.

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) had one of the most powerful minds in human history. He discovered the entire field of logic, working backwards from mathematics to identify the Nine Rules of Inference. Aristotle vastly expanded the philosphy of ethics. He had been trained by Aristocles, son of Ariston (or "Plato," 427-347 BCE), who had himself studied under Socrates (469-399 BCE... or maybe Plato made Socrates up; no one knows for sure). Together Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the undisputed heavyweights of Western Civilization: they told us what it means to be human, and today their ideas are still echoed in the Gospels, Christianity, The Renaissance, the Scientific Method, and the structure of our society. Distressingly, nearly all scholars to have extrapolated from Plato's Republic seem not to notice that many of his points are made through satire. So like if Plato thinks Homer was the greatest poet ever, would he really have wanted to remove every disagreeable element from Odysseus' life? Or is he slyly making the point that those disagreeable elements are necessary for The Odyssey to speak to our deepest self? Plato uses this device, called satire, throughout his writing, so pay extra attention when hearing ideas supposedly supported by the writings of Plato! He probably didn't really think poets make things up = they're liars = we should kill them.

Herbert's Personal Life: So far every great story I've taken apart turns out to have been built partially as a mythic retelling of the author's life. Perhaps this process grants the writer a new vocabulary for understanding the forces they're wrestling with. Maybe we write best about what we know best. Or maybe the psychic crisis which pushed the creator into their unconscious is the source of all their creative power. Here are a few elements from Herbert's life which may have influenced Dune:

Herbert's Life
Paul's mother and most other women in the story are Bene Gesserit Herbert's mother and ten aunts were Jesuit
Fremen displayed religious awe as Paul's car drove by (because they believed he was the messiah) Mexicans displayed religious awe as Herbert's Hearse drove by (because they believed the Hearse must contain a dead person)
Paul would "catch a ride" from giant sandworms as they passed by, using a rope and a "maker hook" Herbert would "catch a ride" from tugboats pulling barges as they passed by, using a rope (and maybe an anchor?) from his tiny rowboat
Pardot Kynes advised the people of Arrakis about ecology (Kynes was the hero of Dune in the first draft) Herbert advised the people of Tlalpujahua, Mexico about ecology
Mentats are human computers Herbert's grandmother, though she lacked any formal education, had an uncanny knack for numbers
Paul's parents were concerned with his safety almost to the point of distraction from their superheroically important jobs (Dad's mantra: "They tried to take the life of my son!" Mom's mantra: "My son lives!") Herbert's parents were depressive alcoholics who barely registered his existence (so this element of Herbert's life was used as a reversal)
Paul receives the best education imaginable, akin to Alexander the Great Herbert was unable to attend university, probably for economic reasons (another reversal)
The Bene Gesserit are truthsayers, possessing the magic ability to tell if people are lying or not. They use a "pain box" to torture Paul, for what they believe are ultimately altruistic reasons. Herbert's highway-patrolman father often threatened to subject young Frank to a lie detector. As an adult Frank Herbert made good on his father's threat, actually purchasing a lie detector and often forcing his sons Brian and Bruce to submit to it. Brian compares the lie detector to the Pain Box from his father's book, an instrument of control through torture. He later learned that his father had rigged the box to give him whatever answer he wanted. [note: eek!!]

T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935): During World War One Thomas Edward Lawrence got himself assigned as a kind of liaison between the Arabian Beduins and the British Army. He surprised the Beduins and his superiors by becoming a military leader, organizing a string of spectacular victories against the German-backed, well-armed Turks. He became a dark messiah to the Beduins and a mixed blessing to the British. In 1926 Lawrence recorded his adventures in the autobiographical novel The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which was immediately lauded as the greatest adventure story ever told. It had all the elements of a swashbuckling yarn, and it was all true! In 1962 Lawrence's story was retold as the brilliant film Lawrence of Arabia. Dune was strongly influenced by Lawrence: Paul is the messianic man of two tribes leading the Jihad, the Beduins are the Fremen, the Harkonnens are the Turks, the Sardaukar are German Troops, and the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV represents both the German government and the British crown.

In his autobiography T.E. Lawrence explains how his homosexuality contributed to his military career. He says that he was initially attracted to soldiering because of the all-male environment, and his desire to impress other men sexually is what ultimately motivated him to become a hero. Rather than writing a gay male hero, Herbert transferred Lawrence's homosexuality to Dune's villain, Baron Harkonnen. According to Herbert's biography he considered male homosexuality immoral, and died without ever expressing love or approval for his gay son Bruce. In a world where gay teens are four times more likely to commit suicide, it's a shame that the stories of real-life gay heroes are often retold so dishonestly. As Herbert knew better than anyone, Paul Atreides was largely based on a real human being, and his great love wasn't a woman named Chani but a man named Dahoum. Paul may have also been modeled partially on Alexander The Great, who many historians call "the greatest military genius of all time." Alexander was also gay, and his boyfriend was a strikingly-handsome soldier named Hephaestion.

The Qur'an: The sacred book of Islam ("One who submits to Allah") was revealed by Allah (God) to the Prophet Muhammad (570-632 CE) over the course of his lifetime. Herbert has often acknowledged that he uses color symbolically in Dune, but the only piece of the puzzle he's ever revealed is yellow, which means danger. Given that the Fremen are based mostly on the Bedouins, it seems likely to me that Herbert borrowed the color symbology of the Qur'an. For instance, in the Qur'an green is associated with healthy growing plants that have plenty of water, so it's good (and a symbol of Muhammad even today, which explains why his descendants wear green turbans). Yellow is associated with plants that are withering from lack of water, so it's bad.

The David Lynch version of the Dune movie doesn't work from the Qur'an color symbolism as far as I can tell. The Harkonnens, for instance, decorate mostly with green. Nor do I detect color symbolism in the Children of Dune miniseries (yellow, especially yellow sunlight, often falls upon Alia, but there are no green or other Qu'ranic color symbols, so the yellow may be either an isolated color symbol or a coincidence). The John Harrison version of Dune uses an original color symbology; Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro invented a system based on the Four Elements which the Ancient Greeks believed all matter was composed of:

Red = fire = danger = The Harkonnens
Green = water = life = the Fremen
Blue = air = aristocratic aloofness = the Imperium
Black = earth = strength = the Atreides
White = all elements combined = wholeness = Paul in final scene

Imam Mohammed Ahmed al Mahdi (1844-1885): Ahmed founded modern Sudan in 1885, by successfully leading a Muslim jihad against the Egyptian and British forces. Sudan had been under foreign rule since 1821, when Mohammed Ali Pashai had invaded in hopes of getting rich by enslaving people. In 1881 Ahmed announced that we was the Al Mahdi (literally "the guided one"), the messiah whose coming is prophesied in the Qur'an. The snappy uniform worn by the Atreides in the Lynch movie was based on the outfit worn by the Khedive, or Egyptian Viceroy, from around 1867-1914. Pop singer Michael Jackson was so impressed with the look that he had copies made and wore them on tour in the early 1980s.

John Carter of Mars books (1912-1941), by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950): Herbert absolutely adored these books as a young man, and in a way Dune is basically the serious, literary, adult version of Burrough's pulpy "scifi superhero conquers a desert planet" fantasy. ERB's Mars books were a direct influence not only on Herbert, but Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan, George Lucas, Michael Moorcock, Leigh Brackett, Olaf Stapledon, Robert Heinlein, Edmond Hamilton, Philip Jose Farmer and Ray Bradbury, who once wrote "Edgar Rice Burroughs is my father."

Herbert originally set Dune on Mars, but quickly discarded the idea, feeling that ERB and others had done Mars to death. I can find only one direct borrowing: The Lady Jessica finds a note in an arboretum left by her predecessor, Margot Lady Fenring. The note contains the Bene Gesserit code-phrase "On that path lies danger." This tells Jessica that there's a secret message hidden somewhere in the room. She eventually finds the message, subtle bumps like Braille extruded into the tree-leaf that hung over the note. Compare with this passage from ERB's The Warlord of Mars (1913-14), in which John Carter finds a scrap of paper while imprisoned in the dark: "I became aware of strange protuberances upon the smooth surface of the parchment-like substance in my hands. For a time they carried no special significance to my mind - I merely was mildly wondrous that they were there; but at last they seemed to take form, and then I realized that there was but a single line of them, like writing." The bumps turn out to be a secret coded message.

Foundation Series (1941-1993), by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992): During the time Frank Herbert was writing Dune, most science fiction pundits agreed that Asimov's Foundation was the best science fiction ever written. Foundation even won a Hugo (the highest award in the field) in 1966 for "best series ever." Asimov's story concerns a scientist called a psychohistorian, someone trained to understand the broad patterns of history well enough to make oracular predictions. Asimov's psychohistorian hero, Hari Seldon, predicts that the Galactic Empire will eventually fall just as the Roman Empire fell. He suggests the creation of a library-planet called Foundation, where all human knowledge can be preserved through the dark ages, just as monks preserved the wisdom of the Greeks and the Romans through the historical Dark Ages. Seldon's plan basically works, though a significant challenge rises in the form of a mule, a superpowered mutant who is so singular that he falls outside Seldon's prophecies.

Asimov often cited Edward Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published around 1783) a primary inspiration for Foundation. I don't know of Asimov mentioning this, but it seems likely he was also influenced by the real-life attempts of H.G. Wells to persuade the Royal Institution to create a World Encyclopedia, to guard human knowledge against a potential dark age. Asimov was very familiar with Wells' writing and wrote admiringly of him. Wells believed that such knowledge would allow the encyclopedists to manipulate "everyone who controls administration, makes wars, directs mass behavior, feeds, moves and starves populations" for the good of all humanity - the same basic premise as Asimov's book. Asimov's Psychohistorians are basically the same as what Wells called "Human Ecologists." His Encyclopedia Galactica is basically Wells' proposed World Encyclopedia.

As the Foundation series developed, Asimov began opening chapters with epigrams from the Encyclopedia Galactica, the book the psychohistorians were working on. This introduced a brilliant way to address one of the main problems with writing science fiction: it takes a lot of description to explain an alien culture to a reader, but too much description is boring. By "hiding" his backstory, exposition and description in these little epigrams, Asimov was able to keep the main story focused on plot. Herbert expanded this idea in Dune, beginning every chapter with an epigram and flirting with neat literary devices like partial foreshadowing (revealing a few tantalizing details about "how it all turns out" but forcing us to read the chapter if we want the whole story).

Frank Herbert's father was agnostic, but his mother and his ten matriarchal aunts were Jesuits, and they ganged up on him and tried to convert him! Herbert's Bene Gessert are basically a cross between Asimov's Psychohistorians and the Jesuits (Jesuit = Gesserit). Herbert thought his aunts didn't play entirely fair, and he was especially unsettled by their readiness to do questionable things because they were so smugly certain they were right. Herbert considered this "the ends justifies the means" philosophy wrong-headed, and he thought he could prove it using Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem and (to a lesser extent) Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem (1930). For most of the history of mathematics, from Pythagoras (582 BCE-496 BCE) through the famous book Principia Mathematica (1910-1913 CE) by Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, mathematicians had faith that everything will eventually be figured out using the wonderful tools of math and logic. In 1930 Gödel blew this 2,500-year-old conceit out of the water, by mathematically proving that no axiomatic (rule-based) system can ever be "perfect." There must always be a statement that "breaks" the system. So for instance English allows sentences which are syntactically valid (they obey all the rules) but logically irresolvable, such as "I am lying." (Is the speaker lying, or telling the truth?) Herbert's idea was that if systems by their very nature are incapable of perfection, then justifying questionable acts with a "perfect" belief system, as Herbert's Jesuit aunts and Asimov's Psychohistorians both arguably do, is logically insupportable. I agree with Herbert, though in all fairness I should mention that Gödel was speaking solely of mathematics, and it doesn't necessarily follow that his proof can be directly applied to something as messy as human politics.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle (1927): Werner Heisenberg (1901-76) pointed out that it's impossible to determine both the position and momentum of an electron at the same time. This arguably implies that the way we look at a quantum event may change the nature of the quantum event. "If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Heisenberg's principle is the basis of a lot of new-age ideas like "...the basic stuff of the universe... is... malleable to human intention and expectation..." (from The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, 1993). Herbert felt that if the way we look at something changes the something, this is further proof that there can be no absolute "perfect" system. For the record, I think Heisenberg's Principle is way-useful for describing quantum events, but the "telekinetic miracle" aspect is merely an artifact of semantics.

To explain: no one has ever seen a subatomic particle. They don't have a "color," or an "appearance," or a "surface." In fact subatomic particles aren't really particles at all, but more like waves of probability. They're completely outside our experience, so to speak of them at all we create metaphors. But then we find paradoxes in the metaphors and, forgetting that the map is not the territory, we proclaim that the paradox exists in nature! Well... maybe, but in general I think it's more likely we're perceiving the edge of applicability of our current metaphor. For instance, do quanta (bits of light) behave like a particle or a wave? "Golly, they behave like a particle sometimes and a wave at other times, depending how you look at them... therefore scientists are telekinetic!" Doesn't it seem more likely we've reached the point where the particle/wave metaphor is no longer adequate to describe the reality, and we just need a new metaphor?

Advertising and Psychology: Herbert's wife Beverly had been an advertising copywriter, and the Herberts were good friends with psychologists Ralph and Irene Slattery: Ralph had doctorates in philosophy and psychology, and Irene had been a student of Jung in Zurich. Herbert drew on their ideas about how the mind worked and how to "sell" things to make Dune as subliminally appealing as possible. For instance, Herbert told Tim O'Reilly that he intentionally structured the climax of Dune like a sexual climax. He revealed that "It's a coital rhythm. Very slow pace, increasing all the way through. And when you get to the ending, I chopped it at a non-breaking point, so that the person reading skids out of the story, trailing bits of it with him."

Selected Sources

Alia: Arabic female name; the feminine of A'La, which means "most high."

Lady Jessica Atreides: I suspect that Jessica is largely a reversal of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. Both are in league with the witches, and in fact are witches themselves. Both have an intense relationship with Duncan (Lady Macbeth tries to manipulate her husband into killing Duncan, while Herbert's Duncan is secretly in love with Lady Jessica). But there's a fundamental reversal: while Lady Macbeth is always scheming against her family, Lady Jessica is always scheming on her family's behalf.

Paul Atreides: The name Paul is taken from Paul the Apostle. Herbert said "He is every prince who ever went in search of the Holy Grail." Atreides literally means "the son of Atreus"; Paul is directly descended from Agamemnon Atreides, a hero from The Iliad (written around 850 BCE). Paul is the most perfect, powerful superhuman Herbert could imagine because he wanted to communicate what he saw as the central theme of Dune, that "superheroes are disastrous for humankind." Dune is a warning to mankind: "Don't give over all of your critical faculties to people in power, no matter how admirable those people may appear to be." Why not? "Beneath the hero's facade you will find a human being who makes human mistakes. Enormous problems arise when human mistakes are made on the grand scale available to a superhero." Perhaps more importantly, "Even if we find a real hero (whatever-or whoever-that may be), eventually fallible mortals take over the power structure that always comes into being around such a leader." This is dangerous because "It is demonstrable that power structures tend to attract people who want power for the sake of power and that a significant proportion of such people are imbalanced - in a word, insane." Herbert drew examples of larger-than-life heroes from Hitler, Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Stalin, Mussolini, and especially John F. Kennedy and George Patton, who he believed consciously "fitted themselves into the flamboyant Camelot pattern."

Piter De Vries: May be based on American novelist Peter De Vries (1910-1993), who wrote clever things like, "It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us." "Piter" is the Russian version of the name "Peter," which literally means "a rock."

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen: The title Baron may be an intentional homonym for "barren" (as in "one unable to have children"), given Herbert's low opinion of gay men. The name Vladimir is probably a reference to Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476), the real-life inspiration for Dracula the vampire. Vlad's father was called Prince Vlad Dracul ("Prince Vlad the Devil"), so he was called Vlad Dracula ("Vlad the Devil's son").

The Bene Gesserit: A cross between Isaac Asimov's psychohistorians and Herbert's Jesuit mother and ten Jesuit aunts. Gessert = Jesuit. Herbert rejected their religion, but felt that he benefited greatly from learning their methods of argument. He said "My father really won. I was a rebel against Jesuit positivism. I can win an argument in the Jesuit fashion, but I think it's flying under false colors. If you control the givens, you can win any argument."

Herbert also lifted a few riffs used for the Bene Gesserit from E.E. "Doc" Smith novels, in particular the centuries-long breeding programs and superheroic mental abilities.

CHOAM (Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles): Herbert said "The scarce water of Dune is an exact analog of oil scarcity. CHOAM is OPEC."

Fedaykin: Almost certainly based on the Arabic "Fedayeen" from The Qur'an. Fedayeen means "one who sacrifices himself" (for Allah). Saddam Hussein's most trusted soldiers, who the American media called his "Elite Republican Bodyguards," Hussein himself called the Fedayeen. Yasser Arafat, addressing a press conference at the United Nations in 1983, called Jesus "the first Palestinian fedayeen who carried his sword." This reflected the popular Muslim idea that Jesus was a prophet of Islam.

Fremen: Based mostly on the Arabian Bedouins and the American Apache, plus a few ideas borrowed from the peoples of the Gobi, the Kalahari and the Australian outback. Their language is adopted from colloquial Arabic. The name "fremen" is probably meant to suggest "free men."

Kwisatz Haderach: Taken from the Hebrew term K'fitzat Haderech (קפיצת הדרך), which means "A jump forward along the path" (K'fitzat means "jump", ha means "the" and derech means "path/road/way"). Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040-1105 CE) popularized the term to explain how Moses' spies were able to cover so much distance in such a short amount of time: God shortens the path of the righteous (in Numbers 13.25 from the Hebrew Bible). The Bene Gesserit believe the Kwisatz Haderach will be a jump forward along the path of mankind's evolution. Herbert's character is probably at least partially a reversal of The Mule from Asimov's Foundation series (this time the plan-upsetting, unpredictable man is the hero instead of the bad guy).

Duncan Idaho: Named after Duncan the Scot from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Muad'Dib: Dune defines a Muad'Dib as a kangaroo mouse imported from Old Earth. Paul takes Muad'Dib as his nickname among the Fremen people. It seems probable Herbert is referring to "The Mahdhi," the Muslim name for the second coming of the Messiah. (Al Mahdi literally means "the guided one.") Many Arab leaders have called themselves Al Mahdi over the last several hundred years, notably Imam Mohammed Ahmed al Mahdi (see above).

Ornithopters: This word means "an aircraft designed to derive its chief support and propulsion from flapping wings." The first ornithopter was probably the one used by Menippus to fly to the moon, in Lucian of Samosata's story Icaromenippus, written around 160 CE. Lucian intended the ornithopter as a high-tech modernization of the wax-and-feather wings Deadalus and Icarus used to escape Crete in Greek myth. Interest in ornithopters was rekindled by the blueprints for flying machines by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). The "ornithopters" in both Dune films had short insect-like wings, but neither actually derived propulsion from the wings, so technically they weren't really ornithopters. In all fairness, flapping wings are a highly inefficient way to move machines through the air. Herbert said "Ornithoptors are insects preying on the land."

Stilgar: Paul's Fremen mentor was probably modeled on Herbert's Native American mentor, a man named Indian Henry (of the Hoh tribe). The name "Stilgar" combines the words steel and guard.

Usul: Paul's girlfriend Chani calls him Usul, a nickname which literally means "base of the pillar" in Arabic. In Muslim scripture pillars are usually symbols for the masculine aspect of divine strength and fertility, so at the risk of appearing flippant the most succinct translation is probably "god phallus."

The Sandworms: Visually, Frank Herbert called the Sandworm "Earth shipworms grown monstrous." The shipworm (Lyrodus pendicellatus) is technically not a worm but a mollusk, with a tiny clam-like shell at the head. The shipworm uses its shell like a rasp, to burrow through wood ships and docks. Thus its nickname, "the termite of the sea."

Herbert said that his inspiration for the sandworms came from a line in Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough (1922), which alludes to "the mindless animal in the depths of the psyche that guards the pearl of life."

Spice: The most valuable commodity in the universe of Dune is the spice melange, since it extends the human lifespan and gives Guild Navigators the perceptions they need to carry transports between star systems. The most obvious influence on Spice is oil, the wealth under the deserts of our world (it's probably not a coincidence that Arrakis is pronounced Iraq-iss). But Spice also represents Frazer's "treasure guarded by the great serpent," which may be thought to be consciousness, or divinity. Herbert's friend Willis McNelly said that Herbert intentionally encoded the idea that spice is the sandworms' sperm, which is why they're so protective of it. This revelation supports the widespread perception that the sandworms represent, among many other things, giant phallic symbols.

0. The movie rights to Dune were originally purchased by Arthur P. Jacobs, producer of the Planet of the Apes movies. Jacobs passed away unexpectedly and the rights went into limbo for years. They were next purchased by a European consortium, who hired Alexandro Jodorowski to direct. Jodorowski cast Salvador Dali as the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, Orson Welles as the Baron Harkonnen, Charlotte Rampling as Lady Jessica, and himself as Duke Leto Atreides. Jodorowski organized some amazing pre-production, including Harkonnen visualizations by H.R. Giger (the famous "Giger Chair" was designed to be a "Harkonnen Chair"), costumes by Moebius (Bladerunner, The Abyss, Tron, The Fifth Element), effects by Dan O'Bannon (who later wrote Alien), spaceship designs by Chris Foss and music by Pink Floyd! Dino DeLaurentiis acquired the option in 1980. Ridley Scott was originally going to direct, but that didn't work out.

1. Finally DeLaurentiis hired David Lynch, and their version was released in 1984. There were some incredible visuals and ideas in the film, but Dune fans generally agree that it failed to capture the essence of the book - possibly an impossible task in two hours. Many fans were disappointed with the overall tone, which was much closer to a campy Flash Gordon serial or superhero comicbook than the "Iliad of the future" atmosphere Herbert worked so hard to craft. Frank Herbert was uneasy because the point of his novel was to explore the dangers of mistaking a man for a god, and the film implied that Paul was a god. And director David Lynch had mixed feelings because:

"I started selling out on Dune. Looking back, it's no one's fault but my own. I probably shouldn't have done that picture, but I saw tons and tons of possibilities for things I loved, and this was the structure to do them in. there was so much room to create a world. But I got strong indications from [producers] Raffaella and Dino De Laurentiis of what kind of film they expected, and I knew I didn't have final cut. And little by little - and this is the danger, because it doesn't happen in chunks, it happens in the tiniest little shavings, little sandings - little by little every decision was always made with them in mind and their sort of film. Things I felt I could get away with within their framework. So it was destined to be a failure, to me."

2. Writer/Director John Harrison released a version of Dune as a miniseries for America's Scifi Channel in 2000. Although the visuals were often strong the script deletes or even contradicts several important ideas in the book. For instance, by winning a knife-fight with Jamis, Paul impresses the girl he has a crush on and gains instant respect from the tribe. There's a cold light in his eyes and he imperiously allows others to dress him without helping; he's beginning to succumb to the Dark Side, to the idea of getting what he wants by hurting other people. This mythic sequence is often called the "Temptation of Christ," the moment where Jesus is offered dominion of all the Earth if only he'll turn against God. The Buddha, Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Odysseus and nearly every other hero of epic myth faces some version of this same temptation. In Herbert's version Paul's mother shocks Paul back into his humanity by stepping in at the correct moment and scornfully saying "Well-l-l now, how does it feel to be a killer?" The Harrison version keeps the "temptation of Christ" scene, but omits the reason it exists, to dramatize Christ's refusal of evil. He did keep the "I was a friend of Jamis" riff, which was also important, so I guess really I'm just being nitpicky about my favorite book.

Another nitpick: Harrison's Stilgar (but not Herbert's) says, "No man recognizes leadership without the challenge of combat." I consider this a dangerous misunderstanding. In real life T.E. Lawrence impressed the Bedouins primarily by placing the safety of the men who reported to him above his own, and Leto Atreides impressed Liet Kynes the same way; neither act involved physical combat. It might be more accurate to say, "No man recognizes leadership without personal sacrifice." Dune and T.E. Lawrence both present the risk of combat as one form of sacrifice, but usually the stupidest and most selfish.

3.Children of Dune was also written by John Harrison but directed by Greg Yaitanes. Children is the first movie that comes even close to capturing my idea of the novel. It was great! Maybe Harrison was getting more comfortable with the material the second time around. Children also contains a neat little "easter egg" (a secret message): budget was tight, so they used the Aurabesh font from Star Wars for the read-out on Alia's electrobinoculars. The Lead Computer Graphics Animator for Children of Dune was the way-talented Chris Zapara, from Area 51 Films. Translated into English, the Aurabesh reads "Chris Zapara, Area 51, BiteMe."

Science fiction as spirituality: 2001

1 From Vertext Interviews Frank Herbert, October 1973, Volume 1, Issue 4, by Paul Turner. Found at Christian Gilmore's old Fedaykin website.

2 The Jedi fighting technique was called "Jedi Bendu" in an early draft of the script, but this was later changed to "The Jedi Arts." "Prana" literally mean "breath" in Hindi (India's most common language). Metaphorically it means "the energy created by all living beings," very similar to The Force. Indians brought the idea of prana to China, where it is today called chi or ch'i. The Chinese brought the idea to Japan, where it is now called zi. "Bindu" is a minor chakra, or energy point, in the back of the head.

Frank Herbert by Tim O'Reilly. This was the first book O'Reilly ever wrote, and it had a profound effect on his ideas. Herbert granted O'Reilly several personal interviews, and in a way he became a mentor to him. O'Reilly went on to found one of the best publishers of computer books in the world, O'Reilly & Associates, and has become something of a minor hero to us geeks. Most of the facts about Dune in this website are taken from O'Reilly's wonderful book, which he graciously provides online for free.

The other major source for this page is Dreamer of Dune; The Biography of Frank Herbert (2003), written by Herbert's son Brian. It's a wonderful resource, though Dune fans may be disappointed that only a fraction of the book focuses on Herbert's young life or the creative process of Dune - the bulk of the book is about the period after Dune made Herbert rich and famous: how he spent his money, which food and wines he ordered at expensive restaurants, how he dealt with the death of his first wife, how he courted his much-younger second wife (perhaps reflected in the shift from the stuffy Bene Gesserit to the younger and sexier Honored Madres) and lots of autobiographical information about Brian. Dune fans may be unpleasantly surprised to discover that (unless we assume that Brian Herbert is flat-out lying in his father's biography, which seems unlikely), Frank Herbert was emotionally and even physically abusive to his children. For instance, when his daughter Penny refused to eat her dessert, Herbert rubbed it into her hair. But "For the most part, she didn't receive the brunt of his anger, which in its most severe form became physical. I think he felt that boys could (and should) take more punishment, in order to make men out of us." (pg. 131) It's disquieting to wonder if Herbert's relationship with his sons is reflected in Paul's relationship with his "sons" - when Jamis dies, Paul becomes "father" to Jamis' two sons - who are about the same age as Herbert's sons while he was writing Dune - but the boys are so inconsequential to Paul that Herbert doesn't even bother to name them! While he was writing those scenes, Herbert would punish his children as quickly and efficiently as possible so they'd leave him alone and he could get back to his own world - the same thing his father did to him, and his grandfather did to his father. As mentioned above, Herbert used a lie detector on his children in a way they perceived as abusive. It may be comforting to observe that the "pain box" in Dune is colored green, which (if you buy my "color symbology inherited from the Qur'an" theory, above), is the color of the sometimes-difficult path of God. Paul resents being subjected to the pain-test, but when the purpose is explained to him, he exclaims, "It's truth!" In other words, though Herbert treated his children in a way most modern psychologists would probably agree was abusive, he was not intentionally trying to hurt them. He was being the best father he knew how to be. Frank Herbert grew up in an emotionally abusive alchoholic family during the Great Depression, and if I find it difficult to condone some of his behavior towards his family, I can at least appreciate that he faced greater obstacles than I have, and marvel at how many he overcame. Brian Herbert wrote that although his father was a "complex and difficult man," the two of them eventually found a reconciliation.

Frank Herbert wrote a short article about how he wrote Dune called Dune Genesis.

Herbert's close friend Dr. Willis E. McNelly (1920-2003) compiled a Dune Encyclopedia in 1984: this rich, fascinating book is something like an Encyclopaedia Britannica from around the year 10,191 CE. There's a lot of debate about how "canonical" the encyclopedia is: Herbert wrote the introduction and read and approved every essay (written by fans and edited by McNelly), but in subsequent books of the Dune series Herbert contradicted a few points. The Dune Encyclopedia has been out of print for so long that second-hand copies are selling for $85-450! However, it probably won't return to print in the foreseeable future, as McNelly recently passed away, and the encyclopedia strongly contradicts the lucrative new Dune spin-off series by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert's son) and co-writer Kevin J. Anderson. Assuming the book is unlikely to be reprinted anytime soon, Vitaly Chikharin of the Russian fansite Dune: The Spice World spent four months laboriously converting the entire book into an absolutely fantastic, professional-quality Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version. Visit Spice World's Dune Encyclopedia page and click on the link marked "Download File" near the top (9.9 Megs). His group is also translating the encyclopedia into Russian. If a legal representative of Herbert, McNelly or Berkley Publishing Group has any problem with this link, please contact me and I'll remove the link immediately. If the encyclopedia comes back into print the link will be removed.

Dr. McNelly was a Professor of English for the California State University at Fullerton. Before he passed away he arranged for the special collections room of the CSUF Pollak Library to host the Frank Herbert papers. These include all four drafts of Dune... the Holy Grail of Dune scholarship! Unfortunately the special collections room is only open on weekdays, and then only for three hours a day.

Khalid Baheyeldin has written an extraorinarily useful article called Arabic and Islamic themes in Frank Herbert's "Dune".

Herbert's friend Professor Willis E. McNelly conducted this interview with Frank Herbert and his wife Beverly on February 3, 1969. Herbert discusses the writing of Dune and Dune Messiah. The interview doesn't provide much material on Herbert's sources, other than to confirm that the Oedipus riffs were indeed woven through the book deliberately.

Herbert's son Brian and co-writer Kevin J. Anderson wrote a book called The Road to Dune, which includes material cut from the book, correspondance, and other tidbits. From a scholarship perspective, this isn't as useful as I'd hoped.

Star Wars created by George Lucas, © LucasFilm Ltd.
Star Wars: Origins © 1999-2006 by Kristen Brennan,
part of the Jitterbug Fantasia webzine.


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