David R. M. Irving

Dr David R. M. Irving is an Associate Investigator (2014-2015) and a Senior Lecturer in Musicology at The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. He studied violin and musicology at The Queensland Conservatorium and The University of Queensland, and undertook his doctoral research at Clare College, The University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Tess Knighton. Before joining The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne, he held posts at Christ's College, Cambridge; Downing College, Cambridge; King's College London; The University of Nottingham; and The Australian National University.

His research revolves around the role of music in intercultural exchange, colonialism, and globalisation from c.1500 to c.1900, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. His first book, Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford University Press, 2010), examined musical practices in the Philippines under Spanish colonial rule between 1565 and 1815 (the period of the trans-Pacific galleon trade), and was named one of eighteen ‘Books of the Year’ by BBC History Magazine in December 2010. With historian Tara Alberts (University of York), he co-edited the book Intercultural Exchange in Southeast Asia: History and Society in the Early Modern World (I.B. Tauris, 2013). He has published numerous articles and book chapters, and in 2010 the Royal Musical Association awarded him The Jerome Roche Prize ‘for a distinguished article by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career’. In 2014, he held an International Research Visitorship at King’s College London on the Balzan Prize Research Programme in Musicology ‘Towards a Global History of Music’, directed by Prof. Reinhard Strohm (University of Oxford), to work on the project ‘Analogues of Antiquity: World Cultures, Ancient Greek Music, and Comparative Anthropologies, 1500–1800’.

His ongoing research explores the impact of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialism on the musical traditions of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago, c.1500–c.1850. This forms part of the collaborative project ‘Musical Transitions to European Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean’, funded by the European Research Council and based at King’s College London, on which he is a Visiting Fellow. Most recently, the Australian Research Council has awarded funding for David’s Discovery Project ‘Malay Music from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island’, 2015–2017. This is a pioneering ethnomusicological study of Malay music and dance in Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories, which examines local traditions as key factors in preserving and strengthening unique cultural identities. It also considers how Malay music culture was transplanted to these islands from the nineteenth century onwards.


The University of Melbourne Staff Profile


Reflexive Cultural Criticism and the Emotion of Intercultural Encounters in Early Modern European Music
ARC Discovery Project, 2015-2017: Malay Music and Dance from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island (Chief Investigator)

Selected Publications


Irving, D. R. M. Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Alberts, Tara, and D. R. M. Irving, eds. Intercultural Exchange in Southeast Asia: History and Society in the Early Modern World. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013.

Refereed Journal Articles

Irving, David R. M. ‘Psalms, Islam, and Music: Dialogues and Divergence about David in Christian–Muslim Encounters of the Seventeenth Century’. Yale Journal of Music and Religion 2.1 (2016): 53–78.

Irving, David R. M. ‘The Genevan Psalter in Eighteenth-century Indonesia and Sri Lanka’. Eighteenth-Century Music 11.2 (2014): 235–55.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Hybridity and Harmony: Nineteenth-Century British Discourse on Syncretism and Intercultural Compatibility in Malay Music’. Indonesia and the Malay World 42.123 (2014): 197–221.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Lully in Siam: Music and Diplomacy in French–Siamese Cultural Exchanges, 1680–1690’, Early Music 40.3 (2012): 393–420.

Irving, David R. M. ‘“For Whom the Bell Tolls”: Listening and its Implications (Response to John Butt)’. Journal of the Royal Musical Association 135 (2010): 19–24.

Irving, David R. M. ‘The Dissemination and Use of European Music Books in Early Modern Asia’. Early Music History 28 (2009): 39–59.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Comparative Organography in Early Modern Empires’. Music & Letters 90.3 (2009): 372–98.

Irving, David. ‘The Pacific in the Minds and Music of Enlightenment Europe’. Eighteenth-Century Music 2.2 (2005): 205–29.

Scholarly Book Chapters

Irving, David R. M. ‘Jesuits and Music in Guam and the Marianas, 1668–1769’. In Changing Hearts: Performing Jesuit Emotions Between Europe, Asia and the Americas, edited by Yasmin Haskell and Raphaële Garrod, pp. 211-34. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Music in Global Jesuit Missions, 1540–1773’. In The Oxford Handbook of Jesuits, edited by Ines G. Zupanov. New York: Oxford University Press. Published online Sept. 2018 [print version in press, 2019].

Irving, David R. M. ‘Hearing Other Cities: The Role of Seaborne Empires and Colonial Emporia in Early Modern Global Music History’. In Hearing the City in Early Modern Europe, edited by Tess Knighton and Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita, pp. 69–84. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Ancient Greeks, World Music, and Early Modern Constructions of Western European Identity’. In Studies on a Global History of Music: A Balzan Musicology Project, 2013–2015, edited by Reinhard Strohm, pp. 21-41. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Cosmopolitanism and Music in the Early Modern Lusophone World’. In Cosmopolitanism in the Portuguese-speaking World, edited by Francisco Bethencourt, pp. 111–31. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Irving, D. R. M. ‘Trading Tunes: Thomas Forrest, Malay Songs, and Musical Exchange in the Malay Archipelago, 1774–84’. In Intercultural Exchange in Southeast Asia: History and Society in the Early Modern World, edited by Tara Alberts and D. R. M. Irving, 203–35. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013.

Alberts, Tara, and D. R. M. Irving. ‘Introduction: Faith, Knowledge, and Power’. In Intercultural Exchange in Southeast Asia: History and Society in the Early Modern World, ed. Tara Alberts and D. R. M. Irving, 1–22. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Employment, Enfranchisement and Liminality: Ecclesiastical Musicians in Early Modern Manila’. In Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America, ed. Geoffrey Baker and Tess Knighton, 117–31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Irving, David R. M. ‘Interpreting Non-European Perceptions and Representations of Early Modern European Music’. In The Historiography of Music in Global Perspective, ed. Sam Mirelman, 43–50. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2011.

Irving, David. ‘Historical and Literary Vestiges of the Villancico in the Early Modern Philippines’. In Devotional Music in the Iberian World, 1450–1800: The Villancico and Related Genres, ed. Tess Knighton and Álvaro Torrente, 363–98. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.


Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich. The Emperor’s Fiddler: Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Sonatæ unarum fidium.
David Irving (violin), Hannah Lane (triple harp), Tommie Andersson (theorbo), John O’Donnell (harpsichord & organ), and Laura Vaughan (viola da gamba & lirone). Sound recording. Obsidian Records CD718.
[Released 12 October 2018]