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My research focuses on the history of musical instruments (organology) and music-making. I am the author of the first scholarly study of the viola d’amore (Routledge, 2020), and lead editor of The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature (Routledge, 2021).

My research is divided into three distinct strands. The first concerns the history of musical instruments (known as organology), particularly string instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries. My monograph, The Viola d’Amore: Its History and Development, is the first scholarly study of the once-popular baroque instrument. The research for the book has led to further publications concerning related instruments such as the baryton, pochette, and bowed psaltery. I am now studying the life and legacy of Charles Clagget: musician, dancing-master, and musical instrument inventor and improver of the late 18th century.

The second strand of my research looks at the use of musical instruments in concerts of the 18th century in Britain and Ireland, and how the instruments can be used as a fruitful way to trace the networks of musicians and the movement of their music. This research forms the foundations of a larger project questioning the rise and demise of the Georgian assembly rooms, of which music and dance played key roles in the sustainability of these commercial enterprises. 

The third strand approaches musical instruments through literature. I have published on the violin in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and in doing so identified Doyle’s inspiration in the stories of Dundee-based author-musician William Crawford Honeyman, and I am presently researching the life and work of Honeyman. I also have work in progress concerning the player piano in the final work of William Gaddis, and how this can be critiqued through the lens of Adornean late style. I am the lead editor of the forthcoming The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature, coedited by Peter Dayan, Axel Englund, and Katharina Clausius.



  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • The Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature, Durkin, R., Dayan, P., Englund, A., Clausius, K. 27 May 2022
  • The Adventure of the Stradivarius: Violins in the Work of Arthur Conan Doyle and William Crawford Honeyman, Durkin, R. 1 Jan 2021, In: Journal of Victorian Culture
  • History of the Viol: Hoffmann Bettina, The Viola da Gamba, trans. Paul Ferguson (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018), Durkin, R. 28 Dec 2020, In: Early Music
  • The Viola d'Amore: Its History and Development, Durkin, R. 24 Jul 2020
  • Meet the raunchy dance teachers who helped shape the modern world, Durkin, R., Butler, K. 7 Nov 2019
  • BOOK REVIEW: Michael Fleming and John Bryan, Early English Viols: Instruments, Makers and Music (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016), Durkin, R. 1 Aug 2018, In: Music and Letters
  • Westworld’s player piano is the great character that keeps getting overlooked, Durkin, R. 18 Apr 2018
  • David Bowie’s late revival belongs to a grand tradition dating back to Beethoven, Frayn, A., Durkin, R. 10 Jan 2017
  • Sherlock Holmes and the case of the forged Stradivari: did we miss a vital clue for 130 years?, Durkin, R. 3 Jul 2017

  • Dan Donnelly Redefining Music Provision to Reflect Music Consumption at Key Stage 3 Start Date: 18/01/2021
  • Dan Donnelly Redefinig Music Provision to Reflect Music Consumption at Key Stage 3 Start Date: 18/01/2021 End Date: 01/12/2021

I am on the board of trustees for the Hebrides Ensemble, and the strategic board for Music Partnerships North. I work closely with Trinity College London, the ISM, and the music hubs in and around the North East of England to exchange expertise, and bring in professional knowledge to the vocational strands of the Music Foundation Year and Music BA (Hons).

  • Philosophy PhD
  • DipABRSM Instrumental Teaching
  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy FHEA

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