Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Clive McClelland

Associate Professor of Music

0113 343 2582

School of Music 103

Office hours: Tuesday 1.00-2.00pm

PhD, MMus, BMus, PGCE

Clive is Associate Professor of Music. He is responsible for the delivery of courses in 18C music, opera, choral singing, analysis and harmony & counterpoint, and his main research interest is in the field of topic theory. He is also a busy choral director.


After graduating from Birmingham University in 1981, Clive was a schoolteacher for several years before taking up a position as a part-time lecturer at Leeds University in 1994 and has been full-time since 1999. He gained his PhD in 2001, and was promoted to Senior Teaching Fellow in 2002 and Principal Teaching Fellow in 2010. He is very active as a choral director and performer, and is chorus master of Leeds Baroque. He has directed workshops  in early vocal music for the North East Early Music Forum, at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and for the Cambridge Early Music Summer School. Interests outside music include cricket, wine, walking and chess. Clive is married with two children and lives in Harrogate.

Research Interests

  • Topic theory
  • Analysis
  • Discontinuity in music
  • Music in Elizabethan/Jacobean England
  • Schubert Lieder

Clive’s main research interest is in the field of topic theory, and he has written the entry on ombra in the New Grove dictionary. His first book, Ombra: Supernatural Music in the Eighteenth Century has just been published by Lexington Books. It has been described as representing ‘a milestone in the ongoing search for understanding how composers used musical conventions to communicate with their audiences’. He is also contributing the chapter on ombra and tempesta in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory (ed. Danuta Mirka), and is starting to look closely at horror movie music. Clive has also made an interesting discovery about the possible source of Elgar’s Enigma theme, which has appeared in the Musical Times, and has generated local and national radio and press coverage.


Current Modules

  • MUSS1020 Understanding Music
  • MUSS1110 Music Research Skills
  • MUSS1030 Music in History and Culture
  • MUSS2021 Interpreting Music
  • MUSS2721 Music in Context: Music and Drama
  • MUSI3072 Music in Context: The Supernatural in Opera
  • MUSI 3021 Analysis and Criticism of Symphonic Repertoire
  • MUSS2324/MUSI3320 Projects in Performance: Chorus
  • MUSI5062M/5032M Masters Dissertation

Module Coordinator for

  • MUSS1020 Understanding Music
  • MUSS2021 Interpreting Music
  • MUSI3021 Analysis and Criticism of Symphonic Repertoire
  • MUSI5062M/5032M Masters Dissertation


  • BA Programme Manager
  • Joint Honours Modern Languages Tutor
  • Former Undergraduate Admissions Tutor



  • McClelland C (2012) Ombra: Supernatural Music in the Eighteenth Century. Lexington Books.

    Clive McClelland's Ombra: Supernatural Music in the Eighteenth Century is an in-depth examination of ombra and is many influences on classical music performance.

Journal articles

  • McClelland C (2011) “Review: Anthony Deldonna and Pierpaolo Polzonetti (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera (Cambridge 2010)”, Early Music. 39.3: 422-424.

  • McClelland C (2009) “John M Rollett: New light on Elgar’s Enigma”, Elgar Society Journal. 16.2: 49-50.

  • McClelland C (2007) “‘Shadows of the evening: New light on Elgar’s ‘dark saying’”, Musical Times. 148.1901: 43-48.

  • McClelland C (1995) “‘Haydn and the Elements: Symbolic references in the oratorios’,”, Haydn Society Journal. 15: 18-27.


  • McClelland C (2003) “Death and the Composer: The Context of Schubert's Supernatural Lieder”, In: Newbould B (eds.) Schubert the Progressive. Ashgate (Aldershot). 21-35

Conference papers

  • McClelland C (2012) ‘When horror ombers o’er the scene’: shock and awe in eighteenth-century music. International Conference on Music Semiotics in Memory of Raymond Monelle. Establishing New Musical 'Topics' in the Repertoire and Popular Culture (Unpublished)

    Raymond Monelle recently observed that “it is probably no longer OK to speak of a ‘Sturm und Drang’ topic”. The use of this term in music is certainly problematic. The original attempt to draw parallels between certain movements of Haydn’s middle-period symphonies and the trend in German Romantic literature (Wyzewa 1909) was misguided, despite subsequent attempts to validate it (Brook, Landon, Todd, Ratner). This realisation has become more apparent recently (Bonds, Buch, Chantler), and it must be recognised that the term is no longer fit for purpose in the discipline of topic theory. My proposal to adopt the term tempesta acknowledges the origins of the style not in Haydn’s symphonies, but in early opera, since the musical language clearly derives from depictions of storms and other devastations in the theatre. Disorder in the elements in Classical mythology (and therefore in much of opera seria) is almost invariably instigated by irate deities, and is consequently associated with the supernatural. Scenes involving storms, floods, earthquakes and conflagrations had appropriately wild music, and the musical style is often reflected in scenes involving flight or pursuit, and even metaphorically in depicting rage and madness. Tempesta is also to be regarded as the counterpart of ombra, the menacing style of music associated with the supernatural. Both will often be found juxtaposed in infernal scenes, and they clearly share discontinuous elements, such as minor keys, shifting tonalities, disjunct motion, chromaticism, tremolandi, syncopation, sudden dynamic contrasts and unusual instrumentation. Both appear in sacred music and as topics in instrumental music.The main difference between them involves tempo. The creeping terror of ombra at a slow or moderate pace elicits a quite different emotional response in the audience to the fast frenzy of tempesta.

  • McClelland C (2009) “Schreckensoper” and “Zauberoper”: The context of Spohr’s supernatural music. Sex and Sensationalism in Early Romantic Opera 1800-1830 (Unpublished)

  • McClelland C (2002) ‘ “Those cares that do arise from painful melancholy” : Depicting disaffection in the English madrigal’. Music and Melancholy (Unpublished)

  • McClelland C (1998) ‘Ombra music and the Sublime in eighteenth-century aesthetic theory’. RMA Research Students’ Conference (Unpublished)


  • McClelland C 'Ombra' entry in Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. MacMillan. 18: 407-408.

External Appointments

Other EKT related activities

  • Early Music vocal projects for the North East Early Music Forum, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Cambridge Early Music Summer School
  • Pre-concert talks for the Leeds International Concert Season
  • Lectures for WEA and Rossett Adult Education Service
  • Guest speaker at charitable functions

Widening Participation

Educational Development

  • Former University Subject Representative for York St John University
  • Former Member of the Affiliated Institutions Learning and Teaching Committee for Leeds College of Music
  • Mentor on PGLTHE programme

PhD Thesis

Ombra Music in the Eighteenth Century: Context, Style and Signification (Leeds, 2001)

Ombra is a term which has been used for an operatic scene involving the appearance of an oracle or demons, witches or ghosts. Such scenes can be traced back to the early days of opera and were commonplace in the seventeenth century in Italy and France. Operas based on the legends of Orpheus, Iphigenia and Alcestis provide numerous examples, extending well into the eighteenth century, including works by Jommelli and Gluck. Hermann Abert applied the term to certain accompanied recitatives by Hasse and Jommelli.

Ombra scenes proved popular with audiences not only because of the special stage effects employed but also because of the increasing use of awe-inspiring musical effects. By the end of the eighteenth century they had come to be associated with an elaborate set of musical features including slow sustained writing (reminiscent of church music), the use of flat keys (especially in the minor), angular melodic lines, chromaticism and dissonance, dotted rhythms and syncopation, pauses, tremolando effects, sudden dynamic contrasts, unexpected harmonic progressions and unusual instrumentation, especially involving trombones. Parallels can be drawn between these features and Edmund Burke’s ‘sublime of terror’, thus placing ombra music in an important position in the context of eighteenth-century aesthetic theory.

Music incorporating ombra elements gradually began to appear outside opera, such as in oratorios, in parts of mass settings (especially requiems) and in instrumental music, most frequently in slow introductions to symphonies. Ombra therefore provides a source for topical references for many composers. Mozart especially used the ombra style in his operas (e.g. the Oracle in Idomeneo, the Statue in Don Giovanni) and his instrumental writing (the slow introduction to the ‘Prague’ Symphony K504). Haydn’s ‘Representation of Chaos’ in The Creation incorporates several ombra characteristics, as do the introductions to symphonies by Krommer and J.M. Kraus, among others.

Professional Practice

  • Active as a solo and choral tenor
  • Chorus Master of Leeds Baroque
  • Director of Harrogate Chamber Singers (1987-2001)
  • Leeds Baroque
  • Leeds University Liturgical Choir
  • Deputy Lay Clerk at Ripon Cathedral

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