SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Tom Peterson

BA (Sussex), MMus (SOAS)
  • Research

Overview

Tom Peterson
Name:
Tom Peterson
Email address:
Thesis title:
Archives of Sri Lanka's Vocal Arts: The Lyrical Genres of the Nevill Collection as Refractions of Sri Lanka, Past and Present
Year of Study:
1
Internal Supervisors

Biography

Tom Peterson is a current CHASE doctoral researcher at SOAS. He gained a BA Honours in Professional Musicianship at Sussex University in 2013 and an MMus in Ethnomusicology at SOAS in 2019. He is an experienced musician, having worked as a performer, producer, and composer in a variety of Western, African, and Latin American settings. He is a student of the north-Indian Sārangi, having studied with ustād Surjeet Singh, and is turning his attention to the Saraswati Veena as a student of shrīmati Gayathri Govindarajan. He also has an article forthcoming with Asian Music titled ‘Sonic Benefit: Buddhist Ontologies of Chant and the Supramundane in Bengaluru’ that makes significant contributions to the under-researched field of Theravāda sound by presenting a sonic ontology of Buddhist metaphysics along with specific examples of its application, practice, and context.

PhD Research

My research project, ‘Archives of Sri Lanka's Vocal Arts: The Lyrical Genres of the Nevill Collection as Refractions of Sri Lanka, Past and Present’, considers the relationships between British colonialism and music in Sri Lanka. It takes the work and lyric collection of Hugh Nevill (1847–1897), a British Judge working in Sri Lanka, as its centre-piece, through which it analyses movements in Sri Lanka’s musical landscape. I am currently considering shifts in how particular lyrics have been viewed and portrayed and charting a selection from their origins in the cosmopolitan and elite court of Kandy through to their present-day and explicitly Sinhala-folk contexts. Following the work of Richard David Williams, Davesh Soneji, and Katherine Butler Schofield, my thesis will add to research on music and colonialism in South Asia by contributing unstudied accounts from Sri Lanka. It will also build on Jim Sykes' and Garrett Field’s work on Sri Lankan music history by focussing more specifically on the effects of British colonialism on music in Sri Lanka.

Forthcoming article: “Sonic Benefit: Buddhist Ontologies of Chant and the Supramundane in Bengaluru”, Asian Music.

Research

  • Ethnomusicology
  • History
  • South Asia
  • Sinhala
  • Colonialism