Stephen studied at University College Dublin (BMus) and King’s College London (MMus) before coming to Goldsmiths in 2008 to do a PhD on ‘underground’ music. After completing the PhD in 2012, Stephen expanded and developed the research into a book; Sounds of the Underground was published by University of Michigan Press in May 2016.
In terms of other writing, Stephen completed a chapter on Popular Modernism for The Routledge Research Companion to Modernism in Music (2018), and on zine and blog writing on fringe music for Writing on Contemporary Musicians (Routledge, 2020). His article on late style and popular music appears in the JRMA in 2020, and a piece on fringe music writing in the 1970s was published in Twentieth Century Music in 2019. An article on X Factor and reality television appeared in the January 2017 issue of Popular Music, and a piece on form in Justin Timberlake was published in American Music in 2014.
Ongoing projects include a book on the ‘music’ of noise, a wide-ranging research project on music since 1970 and a collaborative, multi-generic history of twentieth century music for Cambridge University Press.
Stephen has been Co-Head of Department since 2018.
Popular Music Contexts (Year 1); Music and Identity (Year 2); Research Essay; Fringe and Underground Music (Year 3); MA Dissertation Supervision; Analysing Contemporary Music: From Serialism to Spectral Noise (PG and Year 3)
Current PhD Students
Maria Perevedentseva - 'Something for Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Soul: Timbre in Underground Electronic Dance Music'
David Stockard - practice-based thesis on improvisation
Ben Assiter - 'Sound, space and community in London’s electronic dance music cultures'
Shereen Mouratsing – practice-based work on experimental songwriting
- ‘High Tides: Changing Currents in Musical Higher Education’, Chaired Roundtable Discussion at Royal Musical Association Conference, September 2020
- ‘Familiarity Breeds Consent? Distance and Dependence in Fringe Music Writing’, Paper at Music Research Series, Goldsmiths, March 2020
- ‘From Microphone to the Wire: Cultural Change in Independent Music Publishing in the 1970s and early-1980s’. Invited paper in the Music Colloquia series at University of Nottingham, October 2016.
- ‘Popular Modernisms and Fringe Avant-Gardes’. Invited paper in the Musicology Forum at University College Dublin, March 2016.
- ‘High, Fringe and Mass Avant-Gardes: On Critique in 21st Century Music’. Presented at Retheorising the Avant-garde Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, a symposium held at King’s College, Cambridge, 12-13 December 2015.
- ‘Institutional and non-institutional contemporary music: Crumbs from the table(s)?,’ Classical music, critical challenges, 17th October 2014, King’s College London.
- ‘Retromania in the No-Audience Underground,’ Musical Materialities in the Digital Age, University of Sussex, 27-28 June 2014.
- ‘Notes from Underground: Political and aesthetic issues with underground music’. Invited paper in the research series at City University, London, March 2013.
- ‘Speculative Realism and Compositions 1960’, La Monte Young’s Compositions 1960, University of Huddersfield, May, 2010.
- ‘Experimental, and Popular, Music’, Society of Musicology in Ireland Postgraduate Conference, Maynooth University, January 2009.