Not the Herring Song

A morale-boosting ditty by and for the Leicester PhD choir. To be sung very, very loudly.

[CALLER]

Of all the ridiculous things I’ve done, starting a doctorate’s number one……

[CALLER – often passed around the group for each verse, but only if people are comfortable solo]

1 – What the hell’s a PhD?

[EVERYONE]
Four long years of purgatory…..

[EVERYONE]
PhD, purgatory and all good things.

2 – How do I do a lit review?

Simply cite Michel Foucoo……

lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things.

3 – What would I do with Jacques Ranciére?

Quote the idiot everywhere……..

Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things.

[NB – THE FIRST PART OF RANCIERE IS SHOUTED, FOR REASONS NO-ONE CAN REMEMBER]

4 – What’s my supervisor for?

Just someone you should ignore……

supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things.

5 – What’s a methodology?

Whatever you did on holideeee……

methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things.

6 – I just don’t get S-P-S-S

It does not work, quicker to guess……

SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

7 – I’m so proud of my contribution,

Eight hund’red pages of confusion

contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

8 – I only cite from Wikipedia,

It’s there for the reluctant reader.

Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

9 – I collected lots of prim’ry data

I’ll find out it’s all rubbish later,

prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

10 – I have a sort of research question,

But it just gives me indigestion.

research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

11 – My colleagues all cite Judith Butler,

But I find half a brick is subtler,

Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

12 – I’ve got to use a ‘feminist lens’,

Although I have no women friends.

feminist lens, no women friends, Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

13 – Ethnography’s the trendy thing,

But very hard work, I’d rather sing!

trendy thing, rather sing, feminist lens, no women friends, Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

14 – I would teach a seminar,

If the students weren’t all in the bar,

seminar, in the bar, trendy thing, rather sing, feminist lens, no women friends, Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

15 – Eventually I’ll graduate,

And join the folk I’ve come to hate,

graduate, folk I hate, seminar, in the bar, trendy thing, rather sing, feminist lens, no women friends, Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things

16 – But now I have a doctorate.

And work in Tesco’s, very late.

doctorate, Tesco’s late, graduate, folk I hate, seminar, in the bar, trendy thing, rather sing, feminist lens, no women friends, Judith Butler, brick is subtler, research question, indigestion, prim’ry data, rubbish later, Wikipedia, reluctant reader, contribution, confusion, SPSS, quicker to guess, methodology, holidee, supervisor, to ignore, Ranciére, everywhere, lit review, Michel Foucoo, PhD, purgatory and all good things.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Not the Herring Song – a brief explanation

Andrea Davies & Angus Cameron

This song was produced by participants in the ‘PhD Choir’ at the University of Leicester.  The ‘PhD Choir’ was created originally by Angus Cameron and Andrea Davies (both School of Management) in 2014 as a means of providing some basic voice training for PhD students.  The reasoning was (and remains) that while Universities train PhDs to do all sorts of useful things (coding, stats, methodologies, theory, etc., etc.), the one thing we don’t provide training for is the one thing they’ll need every minute of every day of their research and subsequent academic careers – their voice.  As such, it is not a ‘proper’ choir, because we require no real commitment (other than the first few sessions which are part of a doctoral training programme) and we don’t prepare for performance.  We just get together once a week – in varying numbers – to practice warm-ups, to sing together and to reflect on the importance of the voice (sung, spoken, written and gestural) to what we all do.  Singing together in this way boosts confidence, personal resilience, physical and mental stamina, collegiality and general wellbeing.

Much of what we sing is based on the work of Chris Rowbury – a pioneering choir leader who specialises in those who ‘can’t sing’ (http://chrisrowbury.com/).  Without fail Chris manages to get even the most reluctant of the ‘can’t sing won’t sing’ brigade, not just singing, but doing so in three/four part harmony, often within half an hour or so.  The results are usually astonishing and we’re delighted to have been able to produce our own success stories through the PhD Choir.

The ‘Not the Herring Song’ came about partly from a desire to differentiate ourselves away from reliance on Chris’ songs, but mainly so that we would have something of our own.  As its name suggests, it is based on a traditional folk song called ‘The Herring Song’.  There are many variants of this (YouTube will provide), but in all cases it takes the form of an incremental call and response.  The tune varies (and in our case ‘evolves’ from week to week): rhythm, pronunciation and enthusiastic participation matter far more.  In total it takes about 10 minutes to sing and, by the end, is a major challenge for breath control and vocal stamina.  For that reason it is not something you should attempt without doing a thorough vocal and breathing warm-up first – please don’t hurt yourselves.

It is, at one level, just a ‘bit of fun’ – a wry reflection on the PhD ‘experience’ in the spirit of the ‘world turned upside down’.  But our students also report that they find it inspiring, enthusing and a useful corrective to the distorted perspectives that academia often produces.  We hope you enjoy it too.

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