W hat does the word ‘musicology’ mean to you? What kind of person is a musicologist? What do they do? If you’re picturing a professorial type, male of course, sporting a bow tie, and poring over dusty manuscripts or instrumental treatises in a library or archive, it might be time to think again.

Carolyn Philpott at Mawson’s Huts Replica Museum, Hobart.Photo © Michael Rayner

Carolyn Philpott, Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Tasmania’s Conservatorium of Music, recently got back from a trip to Antarctica. A study trip.

“The impact of it was beyond what I could even have imagined before I went there. The scale of the environment is just so hard to grasp from images that you see. And we were on the Antarctic Peninsula and in summer of course it’s just absolutely teeming with life. We saw so many penguins, seals and whales,” says Philpott.

“I was hopeful that I might see one whale. I saw more than 50! It was just unbelievable. They come up so close to the Zodiacs we were in. It’s really hard to describe in words the...