Nathan Hesselink

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.


Research Classification

Research Interests

music analysis
rhythmic play and social meaning
Anglo-American rock music

Relevant Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Research Methodology

music analysis

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Chunhyang-ga as pansori-style opera: a guide for performing pansori with classically-trained singers outside of Korea (2019)

My love of Korean traditional vocal music stemmed from my two years of living and working near Seoul as an English teacher. Upon returning to Canada, I entered a Masters program in music which required the performance of a recital. Choosing a Korean art song cycle for this recital sparked my research into other Korean vocal art forms. From this, I discovered changgeuk, which is commonly referred to as “Korean Traditional Opera,” and subsequently pansori, a traditional form of Korean sung storytelling on which changgeuk is based. A continued curiosity in these two traditional art forms during my UBC doctoral studies inspired me to question whether there was an in-road for classically-trained singers in North America to perform them, and led to this creative-interpretive thesis project. The purpose of this thesis, which includes a dissertation and performance project, is to provide an example of a possible guide and template for individuals or institutions interested in presenting an opera production of pansori material. It provides an overview of pansori's theory, historical background, and repertoire; the basics and history of changgeuk; details of the production process for my Lecture-Recital performance (singing Korean, transcribing a vocal score, arranging full scores, directing the drama, and presenting suitable visual aspects); and a distilling of the successes and challenges of this project into suggestions on how future productions of pansori-style opera may bepresented effectively. A great deal of the experience I gained from this project involved navigating the adaptations necessary for performing this traditional Korean source material with the resources available to me in a non-Korean location. I plan to expand this thesis project into a full opera production and hope that my efforts may encourage others to experiment with similar hybrids using traditional musical-theatrical material.Ultimately, the goal is to establish such cross-cultural experiments as a more frequent source for opera productions, increasing exposure and interest in the traditions on which they are based. Supplementary material available at:

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Vodu is a human being to me: society, songs, and drums in the Torgbui Apetorku shrine of Dagbamete, Ghana (2019)

No abstract available.

The resounding body: Epistemologies of sound, healing, and conventional and alternative medicine on Canada's West Coast (2014)

No abstract available.

The emergence of the Chinese Zheng: Traditional context, contemporary evolution, and cultural identity (2013)

The zheng is a Chinese long zither that was developed from a five-string folk instrument over two thousand years ago to become a concert instrument with approximately twenty million practitioners around the world today. The opposing forces of metamorphosis and continuation have dominated the evolution of the instrument with the most rapid and drastic changes to its conception and practice witnessed in the twentieth century.This dissertation is a musical and cultural study of the zheng’s living tradition from traditional practice to contemporary evolution, with an emphasis on the transformation of its musical and cultural identity. The studied areas include composition, dissemination, performance technique, and aesthetics. These discussions reveal an underlying ancient Chinese aesthetic principle drawn from both Confucian and Taoist philosophies that applies to all developmental periods of the zheng––the relationship between sheng (generated sound) and yin (cultivated sound).In addition to being a researcher, the author combines her four-decade long experience of performing and studying the instrument with the voices of four generations of zheng performers and those of Chinese and non-Chinese zheng composers and scholars to reveal the core musical and aesthetic elements of traditional zheng practice. Crucially this includes analyzing contemporary changes in Mainland China and North America since the twentieth century in the context of political influences, Westernization, and globalization. The author argues that the fundamental values of traditional zheng practice are still pertinent to the contemporary development of the instrument.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Gender Wayang in Twenty-first century Bali: new music and a growing performance tradition (2020)

No abstract available.

Not an isolated event: a survey of Korean drumming in North America (2020)

No abstract available.

Seist chorus sections in Scottish Gaelic Song: an overview of their evolving uses and functions (2020)

No abstract available.

"We are not a conquered people": expressions of resistance, resurgence, and reclamation through electric pow wow (2018)

No abstract available.

Graduation Recitals (2018)

No abstract available.

Adaptation and creativity in Montreal's West African music scene (2014)

No abstract available.

A singing sanctuary : identity and resiliency construction in underserved youth through vocal expression (2013)

In this ethnography of a youth choir I demonstrate the relationship between youth cultural identity construction and increased resiliency by providing stories and reflections about individual and group expression through voice. I have discovered through my research that it is not only vocal expression through song that supports identity construction and resiliency, but also the space of shared intimacy that is created through musical/vocal agency. I also revealed an underlying tone of youth resistance through voice.Working within the framework of Teacher Action Research I set out to use my findings to aid and inform my teaching practices in support and empowerment of youth in my community. The research methods employed were audio recording, class observation, personal journaling, and interviews (group and individual). I understood that as a participant and as the subject’s teacher that I entered this research with certain biases and assumptions, but at the same time I knew that my proximity to the subject would give me insight in ways that would not be accessible to an outside observer. I was also cognizant of the fact that I was conducting “fieldwork at home,” recognizing through the literature review and research that this methodology also comes with challenges in terms of objectivity and clarity of subject and roles.I drew inspiration and direction from Lila Abu-Lughod, a Palestinian-American professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University in New York City, who works in the tradition and methodology of what she calls ethnographies of the particular. Abu-Lughod argues for “the effects of extralocal and long-term processes [that] are only manifested locally and specifically, produced in the actions of individuals living their particular lives, inscribed in their bodies and their words” (1991: 150).

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Cross-Cultural Pedagogy in North Indian Classical Music (2012)

This thesis is an investigation of pedagogy in North Indian classical music. Historical, cultural, and philosophical elements of pedagogy in the Hindustani musical tradition are addressed in an overview of music education in traditional Indian contexts, the twentieth century, and in cross-cultural contexts. Themes include orality in Indian culture, the traditional guru-shishya parampara, the role of nationalism in twentieth century educational reforms, and the impact of technology in the latter half of the twentieth century. Trends in music education in India are then compared and contrasted with the state of education in Indian music in cross-cultural contexts in the West. From this data a model of the essential elements of Indian pedagogy is synthesized. This model accounts for pedagogical devices utilized to impart musical information as well as methods of transmitting cultural and social values. This model is applied to the experiences of five North American students of Hindustani music interviewed during the research process for this thesis.

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