Will Connor has always been an academic of sorts. Even at a young age, he often found himself in libraries or preferring to concentrate on homework, rather than play with his peers. After Connor attended a series of college preperatory schools in South Carolina, U.S.A., including Warlaw Academy and Coastal Academy, he was accepted into Clemson University where he studied Physics, concentrating on Acoustics and minoring in music, with the expectation of studying musical instrument construction after he graduated.
Instead, Connor began his full time music career rather than furthering his academic work until servarl years later. During this period, he met with several inspiring individuals who inspired him to return to university. First among this was cutting-edge performance artist and musician Genesis P-Orridge. Backstage at a Psychick TV show in Atalanta, GA, USA, P-Orridge encouraged Connor to take up studying Ethnomusicology as a means to further embrace the wide range of musical instruments and their timbres available to experimental music performance. In particular, he exposed Connor to atrists such as Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny who built their own instruments. This, of course, tied in directly with his interest in instrument construction and sonic exploration.
A few years later, in 1988, Connor had the honor of meeting composer/performer/professor Anthony Braxton at the annual experimental music festival that takes place in Victoriaville, Ontario, Canada. Braxton presented a similar idea to Connor, stating that the path to finding new sounds and new extended techniques for performance could be further enhanced by a rigorous study of ethnomusicology, in particular musical instrument studies. Furthermore, Braxton emparted that Connor should embrace building instruments himself to emulate some of the instruments found in traditional practices around the world, and possibly make them with personal or localized elements to bring their unique tones to the forefront of his musical works.
Further encouragement came from performers such as Sun Ra, giving similar advice as both P-Orridge and Braxton. Dr. Tony Stewart gave initial advice to return to university, and Connor's actual enrollment in postgraduate work would not have been possible without help, both spiritually and financially, from Dr. Denis Wood.
In 1998, Connor entered into a post-bac programme at North Carolina State University under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Kramer with parallel studies led by Dr. Randolph Foy and additional instruction from Dr. Alison Arnold. During this period, Connor finished two research projects that would inform many of his later studies: Under Dr. Foy, he reconstructed (partly redesigned) three of Luigi Russolo's Inotarumori, the musical instruments constructed on which to perform Italian Futurist music at the beginning of the 20th Century (For a brief discussion of this proejct, please see Intonarumori on the Futurist Music page); and under Dr. Kramer, he completed a study of frame drum construction within the Tlingit community of Alaska, showing it's evolution and importance throughout Tlingit history. (For a brief discussion of this project, see the Tlingit Frame Drum Project page. )
Following his work at NSCU, Connor began his master's work at the University of Hawai`i in Manoa under the direction of Dr. Fred Lau. His primary studies there involved Tibetan folk instruments and their construction in relation to Tibetan pop and rock musicians, focusing on identity, modernity, and nationalism issues. Also as part of his work at UH, Connor participated in a series of recitals of traditional music performance, including Chinese Silk and Bamboo music, Chinese Jingju opera, Balinese gamelan, Sulawesi Kalkula percussion ensemble music, Philippino Magindanao music, Tahitian dance music, Korean pansori (percussion), and Tibetan folk and court music. (For a brief outline of the Tibetan research project, please see below.)
After graduating in 2007, Connor enrolled in a Ph.D. track Ethnomusicology programme at Royal Holloway, University of London, under the guidance of Dr. Henry Stobart with great assistance from Dr. Anna Morcom, where he conducted a research project that looked at the role of the instrument maker within networks of makers, instruments, and players, specifically builders of Early Music style instruments selling their wares to member of the Neo-Medievalist Gothic music community. (For more regrading this project see below.)
Connor completed his doctorate, recieving official notice on Halloween, 2012, and has since published his first academic essay in Ethnomusicology Review 18, a peer journal jointly published with International Association for the Study of Popular Music (the U. S. branch), followed by papers published by the Manchester Metropolitan University's Dark Arts Journal of Gothic Studies, MUSICULT 2015 conference proceedings, a handful of non-academic music and musical instrument discussion published by Wyld Spirit (the Wyldwood Radio pagan journal) and will be submitting two more papers and book chapters for academic publication in 2017.
Connor's first post Doctoral research projected that focused on the cultral, social, and historical settings interacting dialectically with the construction of the Czech vozembouch was completed in Dec 2015. Currently, Connor is outlining a new project that will look at musical instruments, the supernatural, and cryptozoology.