Night Moves in a Changing City: Electronic Dance Music Culture and the London Night
This project examines London’s electronic dance music scenes and spaces, exploring their relationship to contested notions of the night time as cultural territory, economic category, and site of urban governance. Ben is active in these scenes as a DJ and producer, and performs internationally as a drummer.
Rhythm as a Technology of Feeling: The production/reproduction of Everyday Time in Jazz and Improvised Music
This practice-based PhD asks how technology shapes affective and sensory experiences of time, and how new approaches to musical rhythm echo or challenge this.
Through a study of avant-garde Jazz (1960-1980) in Chicago, Detroit, and New York – a time of enhanced musical and technological change – and my own practice, I develop ‘rhythm as a technology of feeling.’ This model will be used to identify emerging structures of feeling in music, assessing how technology’s uses, affects, meanings, and histories shape everyday and musical experiences of time.
Immigrant Noise and the Infrasonic Space of Michigan
Shelley's practice-based research assembles a sonic reconstruction of automotive labour societies in Flint and Detroit Michigan from 1936 to 1989.
Her project extrapolates James C. Scott's definition of infrapolitics as "the struggle waged by subordinate groups who function beyond the visual spectrum" and expands the idea of an unseen continuum of successful strategies that created 20th century worker prosperity.
The infrasonic space of Michigan is theorised by collage techniques. Early sound technology and the noise of collective protest, along with media clips, oral interviews and historic and staged images represent the fragmentation and invisibility of Michigan's unknown African-American and immigrant industrial proletariat. Their acts of solidarity are tangible through this process, creating an infravisibility against worker exploitation, and is further analysed through mixtape scholarship and collaborative sound works.
Liveable Listenable Cities: human-centred planning and appraisal of applied soundscape design for an auraldiverse population
The aim of this research is to identify and implement soundscape improvement strategies in urban areas based on loudspeakers or sound sculptures placement in the outdoor environment and the use of a computer-based system for adaptive soundscape generation, integrating sonic art practice with acoustic engineering rigour.
Co-composition, sonic ethnography, and the interpretive listening of people with dementia
This PhD project explores sound in the everyday lives of three people in the early stages of dementia. Abilities around hearing and listening are often impacted by dementias, and the diversity of such abilities is under-represented in sound studies theory and practice.
Christopher works as collaboratively as possible with participants on sound works with the aim of simultaneously opening up interesting situations for engaging their listening and for trying to overcome particular difficulties around traditional, discursive fieldwork methods in this context.
Camila Corvalán Ocampos
Practicing Authority: Colonialism and Western European Art Music in Paraguay
In my dissertation I use contrasting case studies – the musical life of Jesuit missions (1610-1767), the creation of national curricula (1883-2008), and the Historically Informed Practice (HIP) movement in Paraguay (2004-2023) – to probe how European music came to wield epistemic control. The Jesuits emphasised formal musical training, contributing to the projection of Western European art music (WEAM) as a ‘universal’ expression. From 1811 the Eurocentricity of music education contributed to the institutionalisation of WEAM and the development of so-called Paraguayan music, a genre that subsequently joined a broader ‘Latin American’ identity. Finally, I consider how Paraguayan musicians, adopting HIP, have progressed their careers by exoticizing (without scholarly basis) Early Music repertory.
Stakeholders in Paraguayan musical life have disseminated false assumptions, several of which straddle the eras I study. From the Jesuits’ arrival onwards, Paraguayan music educators and professionals have considered WEAM as universal. Extending this view, modern Paraguayan scholars pride themselves on having ‘discovered’ – rather than constructed – an Early Modern style, barroco Suramericano, that emerged due to mestizaje (racial mixing) within cultural production. Analysing these assumptions, I take stock of how scholarly and musical practices have marginalized the indigenous. Analysing primary and secondary sources, I seek to decolonize Paraguayan musical histories, thereby illuminating the Guaraníes’ contributions.
The Digital Audio Workstation, Techno and Electronic Music
This research is focusing on the role of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), and the audio/visual relationships between user and electronic musician within the interface of the DAW in the production of Techno and electronic music in the club spaces and underground cultures of London and Berlin.
It aims to examine, analyse and discuss the interface of the mod tracker and DAW and the mediations that occur in the composition and production of Techno and electronic music with a hands-on ‘artist-based’ research approach from electronic and techno musicians based in London and Berlin with some other areas of the European underground Techno scenes.
Sonic Entanglement: Listening to and composing (with) sound and data
The advancements of machine listening and its proliferation within the contemporary landscape of the ubiquitous interconnected device networks have raised significant concerns regarding its capacity to tacitly trace the lives of common devices/apps/platforms users, by transforming them into digital data.
These processes have strong implications in the functions of the soundscape and the way it might be studied. Through practice-based research, this project will investigate the agency, affects and effects of machine listening as a presence within everyday environments, and explore new ways to approach it through creative sonic practice.
The research will work with a theoretical framework drawing upon acoustic ecology, media theory, and critical posthumanism in order to experiment with the tangled relations between human listening and machine listening within the soundscape while searching for innovative ways of creating worlds with/in sound.
Developing compositional strategies based on the auraldiversity of Neurodivergent musicians
This project investigates the intersection between Neurodivergent identity and music composition through practice research methodologies. By examining the creative practice of Neurodivergent musicians with crossmodal perceptions of sound and devising compositional strategies valorising this diversity, this study seeks to expand our understanding of Neurodivergent culture, to promote neurodiversity in the music world.
The role of music genre in perceived/felt emotions
Existing sets of acoustic cues to either communicate or induce basic emotions present open and generic music elements. Such openness allows a specific set of acoustic cues for a specific emotion to be interpreted, elaborated, and arranged in different solutions, producing pieces of music that differ in genre.
Would such difference in genres —maintaining the same acoustic cues— produce different results in communicating/inducting emotions? In other words, given a specific set of acoustic cues, would Schnittke be as effective as Chopin in inducing/communicating sadness to a listener?
- Ian Gardiner
- Joydeep Bhattacharya
Working Title: Sound & Vision: a practice-based research journey
Subdividing Sound: An Applied Analysis of Microtonal Music
This project will create a new musical syntax that allows for the free integration of half, quarter, third, sixth, eighth, twelfth, and sixteenth tones within a single composition. I will also work to improve existing microtonal notational systems to more clearly represent each of these seven musical intervals and the relationships between them.
I want to make microtonal music intelligible not only to avant-garde specialists but to the average undergraduate or dedicated amateur orchestral musician. My research will also elucidate the significant overlap in seemingly dissimilar harmonic systems, encouraging composers, theorists, historians, and educators to adopt a more globally inclusive perspective.
Does 17th-century opera trope on fate, destiny, love, death, and other topics prevalent in Greco-Roman literature; and are the topics still relevant?
This thesis focuses on postcolonialism, misogyny and racism using the early modern English opera Dido and Aeneas; words by Nahum Tate, music by Henry Purcell; as a case study. Scholarship in the field of historical musicology usually focuses on a musical score rather than a libretto and it is this gap which the thesis will address.
Sound Design for the Opera Composer: Concepts and Methods
This composition project offers the opera composer a new perspective on working with sound, based on recent practice in film, theatre and opera. I define five modalities of sound, forming a conceptual basis upon which to integrate sound practice into opera, and exemplify this approach in a triptych of chamber operas (Her face was of flowers, Vicky and Albert, and The Trilobite, Or The Fall of Mr Williams), which point the way to further development and exploration of opera with integrated sound design.
Sounding Truths: A case study of participant-composed documentary soundtracks among asylum seeking communities in Lewisham
Working with migrants in Lewisham, I will explore methodologies for distributed authorship within the music of documentary film. Through improvisation and composition workshops, film and sound recording exercises and interviews, this research will forge new ways for ‘non-musician’ participants to collectively compose a musical score.
The interdisciplinary creative output will be a 60-minute poetic film integrating both participant testimony and music, a workshop model for hybrid documentary storytelling within community/educational settings. By exploring the parameters of a new ‘documentary hybrid’ (Ferrarini 2020) and building upon community music practice techniques, this research will challenge the hierarchical norms of film-maker/participant, composer/performer and musician/non-musician relationships, allowing for a polyphony of voices, to collectively explore the subject of migrancy through subjective memory.
Making Popular Music with Artificial Intelligence: Reconsidering the Machine-Human Relationship and Liveness Beyond Recording Technology
This study considers the relationship between the human and the machine in the production of popular music utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies, through the lens of liveness, asking how the human and AI shape each other and what the consequences are.
The methodology is both diachronic and synchronic: (1) outlining the historical contexts that qualify roles of musicians, engineers, and AI in contemporary popular music production and (2) understanding the mutual relationship that people construct with the technology in such practices, considering elements associated with liveness.
Through drawing on the concept of liveness as a framework, this study also aims to update the concept itself.
Takemitsu and the Steel Pavilion: Spatial Timbre as a parameter of composition
This practice-based research examines the concept of ‘spatial timbre’ as a parameter of composition, as suggested by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) and explored through his multichannel installation at Osaka World Expo ‘70. Through my practice as a violinist and composer, I will seek to define ‘spatial timbre’ as a compositional method, investigating its effectiveness in creating ‘movement’ in surround sound. This research is funded by CHASE.
Listening for the Found Score: A suggested method for responding to the demand to listen to other senses
The found scores is a practice-based research question on the composer’s roles, not to create a score of a musical notation, instead of finding and selecting the score, which has another function in our everyday life than sound and music, but to question listening, rather than merely extending the musical notation.
Furthermore, the found scores examine the social-historical aspects and story of the everyday materials' interrelation with the radio frequencies in a specific place and time to reflect critically on the sound material and listening elements. Therefore, the found scores as a site-specific material intend to draw a structure for a composition project that questions how the sound material's relationship with space and time creates other listening mediums.
By extension, the found score can reflect the politics of composition, performance and listening.
Beyond Retromania: Reimagining Historical Consciousness in British, Italian, and Argentinian Popular Music
This thesis explores the forms and workings of “historical consciousness” – that is, the ways that the past is addressed, made or perceived – in contemporary popular music. An ambitious, multicultural array of case studies, focused on the UK, Italy and Argentina, examines a wide range of popular music practices, making use of historical study and qualitative research methods including interviews and ethnography.
Through these case studies, the thesis argues that contemporary forms of pop historical consciousness are much more productive and more dynamic than is suggested by an extant literature on pop’s pastness, which is dominated by concepts of “cultural nostalgia”, “retromania” and “heritage.”
The thesis comes to demonstrate how historically conscious pop music practices in the 21st century constitute and further a sophisticated dialogue with local and international histories and memories. The thesis develops an under-investigated topic in popular music studies and addresses a broader range of contemporary creative and interpretive practices than has been considered in any single work on pop's historicity, exploring together pop's production, historical curation and critical reception. The study of pop practices in three very different national cultures demonstrates the ways in which contemporary pop’s historical consciousness commonly functions across the world and the geographic and cultural limitations of those aforementioned (European and North American) dominant theories.
Prokofiev's Fiery Angel in production. Funded by the Noelle Mann Studentship.
This project utilises scenography and current design practice as a visual language to deconstruct and confront the issues of narrative and generic ambiguity in Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel. Each chapter examines a case study, starting with the first production in Venice (1955) and leading up to the most recent productions in New York and Madrid. My examination of these productions will be informed by my own experience as a scenographic practitioner and will culminate in my own practice-based designs.
Tim Parker-Langston is studying the Lieder repertoire of composer Fanny Hensel (born Mendelssohn) in a practice research study supervised by Dr Berta Joncus and Dr Pete Furniss.
The study amalgamates concepts within feminist musicology to propose a reparative musicology of action, which simultaneously embraces methodological change in which practice is the primary means of uncovering new knowledge objects, whilst devising outputs that directly address the privation of the underrepresented repertoire at the centre of the study.
These tangible outputs include the web resource www.henselsongsonline.org (a complete performance edition of Hensel'a 239 songs), the album HENSEL: LIEDER (released by First Hand Records and featuring 17 premiere recordings) and the #HENSEL, an advocacy project that has engaged performers across the globe in performing the still unrecorded Lieder from Hensel's output.
Improvisation and the Relationship Between the Traditional Dance and Music in Thailand
This research explores the context of Thai music that relates to Thai dance, and how traditional music is produced to accompany the dance. It asks how musicians and dancers respond to each other and explores how metaphor allows communication when performing on stage.
It explores the historical context, transmission, and function of the music itself especially Thai traditional music - Piphat Dukdamban (the ensemble) - which was primarily constructed to welcome foreigners during the period of King Rama V of Thailand (reigned 1868-1910).
Beyond the Product: Songwriting as a Generative and Inclusive Space
This practice-based research collapses normative epistemologies of popular song in response to a dominant discourse that understands popular music as commercial product – the recording.
My research challenges this perspective by resting the focus on process in songwriting. The project is anti-ableist and will establish inclusive and accessible epistemologies of popular song, which speak to wide-ranging research and professional communities from the authoritative position of practice.
Enduring Victorianism: Rethinking Pop Music, Working-Class Culture and the Long 1960s
This thesis explores the overlooked influence of Victorian and Edwardian culture upon British popular music of the 1960s. Utilising archival research, the work investigates a broad range of both local and mass-mediated popular music, analysing the continued presence of performance cultures, class mentalities and notions of Englishness all with origins in the nineteenth century.
In an era where the sixties are cast as a radical departure from previous British socio-cultural tradition, this work aims to challenge that narrative by mapping an alternative 1960s in which popular music carried and reflected continuity as well as change.
Lee Scott Newcombe
Without Beginning, Without End – Devising Tonal Revolutions to Form Temporal Enclosures
Utilising 53-tone just-intonation through the construction of unique collaborative instruments, this practice-based research explores the concepts of eternity within composition and performance.
Following linear intervallic pathways creates tonal revolutions that further lead to temporal enclosures with a collective absence of beginnings or endings. The form exemplifies the notions of the ‘dwelling space’; an internal/eternal power system that provides sonically driven sculptural properties.
Beyond Representation: engendering kinship and care through networked collaborative improvisational musicking
This paper provides contextual grounding for my practice research project that, using collaborative improvised musicking over the internet, explores the experiences of women sound artists from the Middle East.
Current experimental music practices often exclude this demographic, predominantly accommodating artists in the West. The relative abundance of literature expounding the genius of male experimental sound artists and musicians contrasts sharply with the lack of representation of women in the field, particularly from the global South.
My project explores this silencing through jamming and performing improvisational music with a collaborative ensemble, Heya Collective, comprised of three female sound artists from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and myself. Through theoretical lenses such as Marie Thompson and Annie Goh’s sonic cyberfeminisms, Goh’s concept of sounding situated knowledges and Stoever’s Listening Ear, I question whether it is possible to formally address the absence of knowledge with respect to identity, experience and activism of women from the Middle East who practice experimental musics.
I argue instead that by accommodating opaqueness, I submit to the agency of the Other. Durational practices of listening to each other through the network and agency imbedded in improvisation and dialogue, while acceding to not knowing, shapes the capacity for empathy, care and social change.
Re-Presenting the Sound of the Past: How Musicians Present Old Music to a Present Day Audience (An Interdisciplinary comparison with history and other arts)
This study asks what is the nature of the transformation that takes place to a work of music composed several centuries ago when it is performed by present-day musicians to a present-day audience. It compares the process by which historians recreate the story of the past, actors present the dramas of the past or visual artists the look of the past. It considers the extent to which changes over time in the performance style of old music is associated with contemporaneous changes in the image of that music's composer presented in biography or visual art.
Paracosmic Multimedia: Video Game Sound, Virtual Worlds, and Imaginary Play
This project explores how all forms of sound contribute to specific representations, information and consequences of communities, national identities, and historical events in video game imaginary soundworlds, and whether game sound affords context for critical reflection during moments of play.
From comparisons between my own autoethnographic self-reflection and existing work on imaginary play and game sound, I propose a new theoretical model called Paracosmic Multimedia which extends and questions previous work on imaginary world (or paracosm) research and video game music research (ludomusicology).
This model reinstates the importance of sound in instances of imaginary play, organises semiotically defined parameters of game sound within open virtual worlds and provides a framework through which current and future researchers can make sense of sonic gameplay experiences by themselves and other players.
A study of Django Reinhardt
Jeremiah’s research focuses on the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and aims to develop a clearer picture of his stylistic development. To do so, Jeremiah’s work examines Reinhardt via a critical engagement of his socio-cultural milieux, and within the frame of his geo-historical contexts.
Contingency Dialectics in Fashion-Opera
This research project is an attempt to think through the consequences of a non-Newtonian reality for a Marxist theory of aesthetics. In doing so, it hypothesises a model of the individual's relationship to an external world and, from this, a praxis of intervention appropriate to 21st-century knowledge. By developing the implications of this through compositional practice in the late-capitalist marketplace, it proposes a methodology of its realisation in a cycle of four 'Fashion-Operas': WEAR, ROBE, WOAD and RUNE.
Sounding the Post-Electric World
Via sound art and experimental composition, I intend to explore, and speculate on, the ontological and phenomenological implications of inhabiting post-electric, post-capitalist landscapes, paying particular attention to speech and language.
Diaspora, Collective Memory and War: Exploration of Music and Sound of the Karen at Thai-Burmese Border
My project explores music and sound of the ethnic group Karen at Thai-Burmese border. I will do field work in several border towns in Northwest Thailand. The research mainly focuses on the evolution of Karen music/sound in recent forty years, especially under political disturbance and displacement.
The theoretical frameworks are around Ethnicity/ Identity, Diaspora/Collective Memory and War/conflict. This is a practice-based project. Besides a thesis, I will make an ethnographic film and a portfolio of soundscape composition. The research will combine ethnomusicology, anthropology, and sound studies.
A Song of the Body: Practical experiments in reframing instrumental art music videos
Music Composition for Networked Ensembles
My research focuses on the utilisation of computer networks in music-making. It aims to find out how the real time, event-driven computer systems can evolve processes of music composition and performance, and thereby lead to authentic musical aesthetics.