I teach Greek and Latin language and literature, especially epic, lyric, and comedy, with occasional escapades into the Ancient Near East and music archaeology.
Much of my research has dealt with early Greek cultural history at the Near Eastern interface(s), focusing especially on the interaction of poetic/musical traditions, always in hopes of elucidating broader issues. My undergraduate background, in music composition and electronic music (B.M. New England Conservatory, 1988), remains an influence: the history of ancient music technology, both physical and conceptual, is crucial to my research.
In my doctoral thesis (Terpander: The Invention of Music in the Orientalizing Period, University College London, 2002) I argued that vestiges of the Mesopotamian tonal system can be detected in the earliest layers of Greek musical evidence. Most of my publications have resulted from trying to elucidate the historical and cultural circumstances behind this connection. Eventually I will bring it all together in a book called The Middle Muse: Mesopotamian Echoes in Early Greek Music, now five years overdue for a contract with OUP. Why? The last four years have been consumed by another book that grew out of the first, provisionally called Kinyras: The Divine Lyre. Here I hope to harmonize the Greco-Roman material for Kinyras, the mythical priest-king of pre-Greek Cyprus, with Near Eastern evidence for the divinization of temple lyres, like the Divine Kinnaru who was worshipped at Ugarit.
I have also “recomposed” music in ancient Greek style for two plays, the Libation Bearers of Aeschylus (1999, London Festival of Greek Drama) and Aristophanes’ Clouds (2000, Edinburgh Fringe). Musical selections from these are included on my CD, The Cyrposyrian Girl: Hits of the Ancient Hellenes, along with other “impressions” of ancient music. I have also developed a Virtual Lyre for the Reaktor platform, which lets me incorporate microtonal tunings into various studio projects.
I am married to Glynnes Fawkes, an archaeological artist and illustrator. We have two children, Thomas and Helen. They all keep me going somehow.