This summer, postgraduate students across the Reid School of Music are working towards submitting their final projects. For some, the project is practical; for others, it’s a dissertation. In this series, we meet a number of the students and hear about their masters-level study at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). Here, the spotlight is on Musicology - MMus student, Sio Pan (Stanley) Leong.

Stanley is a Music BA graduate from the performance-oriented National Taiwan University of Arts. He describes his “earliest bond with music” as having developed through playing the piano, and he majored in piano performance, while also studying vocals.

His time as an undergraduate expanded his knowledge of music and, towards the end of his second year, he realised that his true interest lay in musicology, rather than performing on stage. He received offers for Masters programmes from several UK universities, with Edinburgh as his first preference. 

Eastern philosophies and the late work of Gustav Mahler

For his final project, Stanley has opted to look at the late work of the composer, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). He explains his choice as wanting to challenge himself to study something relatively new to him (Mahler), while drawing on a particular aspect of his undergraduate studies (a course on ancient Chinese literature) and a course he’s currently doing on Music and Philosophy.

Stanley is researching how Mahler’s world view changed after a number of personal tragedies in the year 1907, including the death of his daughter, Maria, and how Eastern philosophies helped the composer come to terms with the natural cycle of life and death. This is reflected in his symphonic work, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), which is based on ancient Chinese poems. 

A perfectly organised programme

Stanley is really enjoying the Musicology - MMus programme at ECA, which he describes as “perfectly organised”. He explains…

“During the first semester, we focus on strengthening our research skills and learning methodologies, at the same time, we are exposed to a wide range of musicological issues (canon, ethnomusicology, audiovisuality and so on).

During the second semester, our in-depth studies cut across the boundaries between music, philosophy and sociology. I like the capacity to cover such different research topics. It was one of the main reasons for me to choose Edinburgh”.

Are you interested in studying Musicology at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)?

Our MMus programme takes a very broad approach to music, placing traditional musicology side-by-side with newer developments in popular music and music sociology.