Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications

School of Music

Professor David Cooper

Professor of Music & Technology, Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications

0113 343 3731

Clothworkers' Building South, Room G04

BA, Leeds, BA, Open, DPhil, York, FHEA, FRSA

Currently working outside the School of Music as Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communication. Research interests include film music, Irish traditional music, Béla Bartók, composition and music technology.



David Cooper is is Professor of Music and Technology in the School of Music though his role as Dean of the innovative Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (PVAC) currently takes him out of the School. He is a composer and musicologist who has published extensively, including eight books, on the music of Béla Bartók, film music, music technology and the traditional music of Ireland.

Brought up in Belfast during the ‘troubles’, David studied at Belfast Royal Academy and the City of Belfast School of Music. He came to Leeds as an undergraduate student in 1975 and was awarded a first class degree in Music, studying composition with Alexander Goehr and the Gregory Fellow, Peter Paul Nash. He subsequently completed his doctorate at the University of York under the supervision of David Blake. He was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Leeds in 1988 and was promoted to a personal chair in Music and Technology in 2003. He was Technical Director of the TLTP phase 2 Music Consortium Project (1993-6), has sat on the AHRC and EPSRC peer-review colleges and took a significant role in the University’s merger with Bretton Hall College in 2001.

Research Interests

  • The music of Béla Bartók
  • Film music, including that of Bernard Herrmann, Michael Nyman and Trevor Jones
  • Irish traditional music (particularly George Petrie’s collection and the music of Northern Ireland)
  • Scientific and technological research in Music
  • Composition

David Cooper’s research interests are underpinned by an interest in music’s communicative power, whether considered in relation to film scores by composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Seàn Ó’Riada or Trevor Jones, to the art music of Béla Bartók or to the repertoire of traditional Irish music. He is also interested in approaches to music that are influenced by science and technology, whether as analytical tools or critical models, in particular through mathematics and computing. As a composer, he has worked across a range of media, both acoustic and electroacoustic, and his two saxophone quartets have been widely performed. Forthcoming work includes a major monograph on Béla Bartók for Yalue University Press and a large project funded by the AHRC on the music of film composer Trevor Jones.





Current Modules

  • Postgraduate Research Degrees in the areas of Musicology, Technology and Composition


Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (comprising the Schools of Design; Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies; Performance and Cultural Industries; Music; and the Institute of Communications Studies)



  • Cowgill RE; Cooper DG; Brown JCA (2010) Art and Ideology in European Opera: Essays in Honour of Julian Rushton. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

  • Cooper D (2009) The Musical Traditions of Northern Ireland and its Diaspora: Community and Conflict. Farnham: Ashgate.

  • Cooper D; Sapiro I; Fox C (2008) CineMusic? Constructing the Film Score. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Cooper DG (2005) Bernard Herrmann's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: a film score guide. Scarecrow Press.

    A study of Herrmann's manuscript score for Mankiewicz's film The Ghost and Mrs Muir.

  • Cooper DG; Dawe KN (2005) The Mediterranean in Music: Critical Perspectives, Common Concerns, Cultural Differences (Edited Collection). Scarecrow Press.

  • Cooper DG (2001) Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo: a film score handbook. Film Score Guides. Greenwood Press.

    A study of Bernard Herrmann's score for Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo.

  • Cooper DG (1996) Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra. Cambridge University Press.

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro IP; Anderson L The Screen Music of Trevor Jones: Technology, Process, Production. [In preparation]

  • Cooper D Béla Bartók. Yale University Press. [In preparation]

    A study of the composer's life and works

Scholarly Editions

  • Cooper DG (2005) The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (revised softback edition). Cork University Press.

  • Cooper DG (2002) The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland. Cork University Press.

Journal Articles

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro IP (2011) “A Source-Studies Approach to Michael Nyman's Score for The Draughtsman's Contract”, Journal of Film Music. 3.2: 155-170.

    The composer Michael Nyman has donated a unique collection of his original sound materials and other documentation to the University of Leeds on long-term loan for scholarly investigation. There are more than 500 individual items in the archive, which includes film, television and concert music, as well as associated items of paperwork, and the films directed by Peter Greenaway feature strongly in the collection. Evidence for the underlying creative processes in film composition can be found within the source materials which include the source recordings and stereo mixdowns of cues, materials often disposed of by film and television companies after a film’s release or TV programme’s broadcast. This article questions the extent to which the surviving audio and supporting documentary materials reflect the development of the score and the relationships between Nyman’s music and Greenaway’s images as exemplified in the non-mainstream film The Draughtsman’s Contract.

  • Cooper DG (2010) “Fintan Vallely, Tuned Out: Traditional Music and Identity in Northern Ireland”, Ethnomusicology. 54.1: 136-140.

  • Cooper DG (2009) “Jay Beck and Tony Grajeda, eds, Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound”, Music, Sound and the Moving Image. 3.1: 119-124.

  • Cooper DG (2007) “Lillis Ó Laoire, On a Rock in the Middle of the Ocean: Songs and Singers in Tory Island, Ireland”, Ethnomusicology Forum. 16.1: 172-173.

  • Cooper DG (2007) “James Wierzbicki, Louis and Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet: A Film Score Guide”, The Journal of Film Music. 2.1: 79-81.

  • Cooper DG (2007) “On a Rock in the Middle of the Ocean: Songs and Singers in Tory Island, Ireland, LILLIS O ´ LAOIRE”, Ethnomusicology Forum. 16.1: 172-173.

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro IP (2006) “Ethnomusicology in the Laboratory: From the Tonmesser to Digital Melography”, Ethnomusicology Forum.

  • Cooper DG (2005) “Máirtín Pheaits Ó Cualáin. Traditional Songs from Connemara”, The World of Music. 47.2005-3

    Review of recording

  • Cooper DG (2004) “Celtic Modern: Music at the Global Fringe”, British Journal of Ethnomusicology. : 290-296.

  • Cooper DG (2003) “'Benjamin Suchoff, Béla Bartók: Life and Work' and 'Benjamin Suchoff, Bartók’s Mikrokosmos: Genesis, Pedagogy and Style'”, Music and Letters. 84.4: 673-677.

    Review of two books by Benjamin Suchoff.

  • Cooper DG (2003) “Film Form and Musical Form in Bernard Herrmann's Score to Vertigo”, The Journal of Film Music. 1.2/3: 239-248.

    A study of musical form in Bernard Herrmann's score to the film Vertigo.

  • Cooper DG (2002) “Carl Leafstedt: Inside Bluebeard's Castle: Music and Drama in Bela Bartok's Opera”, Music Analysis. 21.1: 105-112.

  • Cooper DG (2000) “On the Twelfth of July in the Morning . . . or the Man who Mistook his Sash for a Hat”, Folk Music Journal. 8.1: 67-89.

  • Bailey NJ; Cooper DG (2000) “Sculptor: Exploring Timbral Spaces in Real Time”, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. 43.3: 174-180.

  • Bailey NJ; Cooper DG (2000) “Perceptually Smooth Timbral Guides by State-space Analysis of Phase Vocoder Parameters”, Computer Music Journal. 24.1: 32-42.

  • Cooper DG (1998) “The Unfolding of Tonality in the Music of Béla Bartók”, Music Analysis. 17.1: 21-38.

  • Cooper DG (1994) “Paul Wilson: The Music of Béla Bartók”, Music Analysis. 13: 2-3: 305-311.

  • Ireland D; Windsor WL; Cooper DG “Measuring and modelling audiovisual incongruence in film music”, Music Perception. [In preparation]


  • Cooper DG (2015) “Film sound history and technology”, In: Cooke M; Ford F (eds.) Cambridge Companion to Film Music. Publication: Cambridge University Press. [Accepted]

  • Cooper DG (2015) “A Dance to the Music of Herrmann”, In: Partners in Suspense. Manchester University Press. [In preparation]

  • Cooper DG (2011) “Béla Bartók: Reintegrating the Semantic and Syntactic axes in Duke Bluebeard's Castle”, In: Critical Musicological Reflections. Farnham: Ashgate.

  • Cooper DG (2010) “With Fife and Fiddle: Protestants and Traditional Music in Northern Ireland”, In: O'Connell J; Castelo-Branco SE-S (eds.) Music in Conflict: Ethnomusicological Perspectives. University of Illinois Press. 89-106

  • Cooper DG (2010) “Stanford's and LeFanu's Shamus O'Brien: Protestant Constructions of Irish Nationalism in Late Victorian England”, In: Cowgill RE; Cooper DG; Brown JCE (eds.) Art and Ideology in European Opera: Essays in Honour of Julian Rushton. The Boydell Press. 85-102

  • Cooper D (2009) “'Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle: A Musicological Perspective'”, In: Anderson V; Pollock G (eds.) Bluebeard's Legacy: Death and Secrets from Bartók to Hitchcock. New Encounters: Arts, Cultures, Concepts. London: I. B. Tauris. 53-68

    Consideration of the symbolism of Bartók’s opera.

  • Cooper D (2009) “'Trevor Jones's Score for In the Name of the Father'”, In: Scott D (eds.) The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology. Ashgate Research Companion. Aldershot: Ashgate. 25-42

    Study of Trevor Jones's film score

  • Cooper D (2007) “''Twas One of those Dreams that by Music are Brought': The Preservation of Irish Traditional Music and the Development of the Piano”, In: Smaczny J; Murphy M (eds.) Music in Nineteenth-Century Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 74-93

  • Cooper DG (2006) “Seán Ó Riada and Irish Postcolonial Film Music”, In: Mera M; Burnand D (eds.) European Film Music. Aldershot: Ashgate. 100-115

    A study of the film music of Seán Ó Riada, especially Mise Eire

  • Cooper DG (2005) “On Imagining the Mediterranean”, In: Cooper D; Dawe K (eds.) The Mediterranean in Music: Critical Perspectives, Common Concerns, Cultural Differences.. Scarecrow Press. 207-229

  • Cooper DG; Dawe KN (2003) “Introduction”, In: Cooper D; Dawe K (eds.) The Mediterranean in Music: Critical Perspectives, Common Concerns, Cultural Differences.. Scarecrow Press. xiii-xvi

  • Ng KC; Cooper DG; Hogg DC (2002) “Playing on a Holo-stage: Towards the interaction between real and virtual performers”, In: Beardon C; Malmborg L (eds.) Digital Creativity: A Reader. Swets & Zeitlinger. 241-249

  • Cooper DG (2001) “Bartók's Orchestral Music and the Modern World”, In: Bayley A (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Bartók. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge University Press. 45-61

    A consideration of the relationship between Bartók's orchestral music, modernism and modernity.

  • Cooper DG (2000) “Béla Bartók and the Question of Race Purity in Music”, In: Murphy M; White H (eds.) Music and Nationalism: Re-evaluations of the History and Ideology of European Musical Culture 1830-1945. Music and Nationalism: Re-evaluations of the History and Ideology of European Musical Culture 1830-1945.

  • Cooper DG “A Dance to the Music of Herrmann”, In: Partners in Suspense (provisional title). Manchester University Press.


  • Ng KC; Cooper DG (1998) Studio Report of the Leeds University Electronic Studio. Proceedings: Computer Music Conference (ICMC’98) Computer Music Conference (ICMC’98).

    Author URL [www.leeds.ac.uk]

  • Cooper DG Ghosts and Mr Herrmann. Film Music Conference: Celebrating the Centennials of Bernard Herrmann and Nino Rota

    Bernard Herrmann is sometimes accused of falling into a kind of lazy recycling in his later films, employing repetition, both at the micro-level of small melodic cells often in two-bar units, and at the macro-level of previously used and well-worn gestures and ideas. And at the same time, some of the films he scored post-Hitchcock have been regarded by a number of critics as pot boilers on which he worked with little real commitment or enthusiasm. This keynote address explores the late and neglected film The Night Digger, placing it in the context of his overall career and examining the extent to which ‘ghosts’ of his earlier work, both musical and narrative, pervade it.

  • Cooper DG Béla Bartók and Race Purity in Music. Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók Study day

  • Cooper DG A Dance to the Music of Herrmann. Partners in Suspense: Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro; Anderson L; Hall S Sharing sonic space: the relationship between pre-existing and original music in Brassed Off and Notting Hill. Music and Screen Media Conference

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro; Anderson L; Hall S ‘Simple, Medium, and Shebang’: Trevor Jones and the Development of the Toolkit'. Music and the Moving Image IX

    With a career spanning over thirty years, Trevor Jones is regarded as one of the film industry’s most distinguished composers. In the late 1980s Jones developed what he terms “toolkits”, collections of bespoke musical sounds used to augment the sonic palette of a film score, and to suggest particular soundscapes and atmospheres. These toolkits occupied a unique position in the production process, straddling the stages of composition and orchestration, and somewhat blurring the boundary between musical score and sound effects. Jones utilised toolkits in a series of films released between 1987 and 1993, including Angel Heart (1987), Mississippi Burning (1988), Sea of Love (1989), Freejack (1992), and In the Name of the Father (1993). He continued to develop and refine the toolkit concept through these projects, and there is a notable shift in its application from directorial resource to creative compositional tool across this period. We draw on unique archival materials held at the University of Leeds to discuss the initial inspiration for toolkits and to investigate case studies of their applications across films. Track sheets, multi-track recordings, sketches and full scores offer significant insights into the use of toolkits in the composition and orchestration of Jones’s scores from the late 1980s and early ’90s, allowing a thorough evaluation of their evolving role and function over a seven-year period.

  • Cooper DG Northern Identity and the Traditional Music of Ireland. Music and the Idea of the North

  • Cooper DG The Orphic Moment and Bernard Herrmann’s Score to Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The Orpheus Myth in Modern Culture

  • Cooper DG With Fife and Fiddle: Protestants and Traditional Music in Northern Ireland. 2004 ICTM Colloquium: Discord: Identifying Conflict within Music, Resolving Conflict through Music

  • Cooper DG Musical Diasporas - position paper. RMA Research Students' Conference 2006

  • Cooper DG Position paper. Ireland: Celebrating Peace, Embracing Change

Internet Publications

  • Cooper DG; Sapiro IP (2005) The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (Website). None.

    Author URL [www.leeds.ac.uk]

    Website associated with the book The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland. Contains original piano accompaniments.



  • Cooper DG (2003) Saxophone Quartet No. 2. Sheet music

    Saxophone Quartet

Thesis / Dissertations

Research Projects & Grants

  • Principal investigator, AHRC large award, The Professional Career and Output of Trevor Jones (2013-16) http://www.trevorjonesfilm.leeds.ac.uk/
  • Principal investigator, British Academy Small Research Grant,
  • Principal investigator, AHRC: A Digital Archive of Film Music Materials by Trevor Jones (2006)
  • Principal investigator, AHRB: Bernard Herrmann’s Score for The Ghost and Mrs Muir (2004)
  • Principal investigator, AHRB: Joe Holmes – A Consideration of an Irish Protestant Traditional Musician (2000-2001)
  • Principal investigator, Humanities Research Board of the British Academy/AHRB: Optical Recognition of Hand-written Manuscripts with Application to Film-Music Scores (Institutional Fellowship 1999-2003)

External Appointments

  • External Examiner MA Music Technology, University of York (2011-13)
  • 2011, Keynote speaker, Herrmann – Rota Conference, University of Leeds
  • 2011, Keynote speaker, Partners in Suspense Conference, York St John University
  • 2009 Film Music Conference, University of Leeds in collaboration with Leeds International Film Festival, Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds (Friday 6 November 2009), co-organiser with Ian Sapiro, guest composer Ilan Eshkeri.
  • 2009 Heimat Symposium, (DARE) Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, 5 November 2009, co-organiser.
  • 4th Film and Music Conference, Bradford NMM (2008) co-organiser (keynote Patrick Doyle).
  • 3rd Film and Music Conference, Bradford NMM (2007) co-organiser (keynote David Arnold)
  • 2nd Film and Music Conference, Bradford NMM (2006) co-organiser (keynote Michael Nyman)
  • 1st Film and Music Conference, Bradford NMM (2005) co-organiser (keynote Trevor Jones).
  • Associate editor, The Journal of Film Music
  • International conference, Sound, Music and the Moving Image, Senate House London (2007) member of the programme committee
  • Music and The Mediterranean symposium, University of Leeds (2001) co-organiser
  • RMA Film Music Conference, Southampton University (2001) member of the programme committee
  • The Celtic Cultures Conference, University of Leeds (1999), co-organiser
  • Previously a member of the AHRC and EPSRC peer-review colleges.
  • External examinershipsTaught programmes:
    Oxford Brookes University (Music, 1999-2002);
    Queen’s University Belfast (Music Technology, 2001-5);
    University of Huddersfield (Music Technology BA and MA, 2002-6);
    Royal College of Music (MA Composition, 2006-10);
    University College Cork (BA, etc, 2006-9);
    University of York (MA Music Technology, 2011- );Research Degrees:
    University of Salford (1999)
    University College Cork (2005)
    University of Oxford (2005-6)
    University of Salford (2007)
    Oxford Brookes University (2008)
    University of Sheffield (2011)
    University of Nottingham (2011)


PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current Research Students

  • Dan Holden
  • Sarah Hall

Past Research Students

  • MA by research
    • 1994, Eileen Guppy, ‘The solo piano music of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea their historical significance and their contribution to the emergence of a new genre of musician’.
    • 1996, Anthony Faulkner, ‘Thad Jones and the Ellington effect’.
    • 2000, Steven Michael Pierce, ‘Scorebot theory and design of an automated film scoring application’.
  • PhD
  • 1998, Martijn Voorvelt, (with Prof Leigh Landy) ‘British post-punk experimental pop (1977-1983)’.
  • 1999, Rachel Justine Swindells, ‘Stylistic fusion in a postmodern context’.
  • 1999, Ewan James Stefani, Portfolio of musical compositions.
  • 2001, David Fligg, Portfolio of musical compositions
  • 2001, Robert Asmussen, ‘Periodicity of sinusoidal frequencies as a basis for the analysis of baroque and classical harmony: a computer based study’.
  • 2002, Mark Marrington, ‘Extra-musical influences and musical style in the works of Denis ApIvor’.
  • 2003, Rosemary Fitzgerald (with Dr Luke Windsor), ‘Performer-dependent dimensions of timbre: identifying acoustic cues for oboe tone discrimination’.
  • 2004, Adam Tee (with Dr Des McLernon), ‘The Computer Representation and Thematic Analysis of Pre-Twentieth Century Western Art Music’.
  • 2006, John Mackenzie, ‘The guitar works of Stephen Dodgson’.
  • 2007, Robert Ellis Geiger, ‘Trends in contemporary Hollywood film scoring : a synthesised approach for Hong Kong cinema’.
  • 2008, Dale Perkins, Portfolio of original musical compositions and written commentary.
  • 2008, Michael Byde, ‘The later orchestral works of William Walton: A critical and analytical re-evaluation’.
  • 2011, Catherine Haworth, ‘Dames, Darlings, and Detectives: Women, Agency, and the Soundtrack in RKO Radio Pictures Crime Films 1939-1950’.
  • 2011, Constance Louise Wallcraft, ‘Theorising the Film Musical’.
  • 2011, Ian Peter Sapiro, ‘Scoring the Score: The Role of the Orchestrator in the Contemporary British Film Industry
  • 2012, David Ireland (with Luke Windsor), ‘The influence of incongruence on perceived emotional meaning in the film soundtrack’.
  • 2012, Caroline Lucas (with Mic Spencer), ‘Portfolio of original musical compositions with written commentary’.

PhD Thesis


Folio of Musical Compositions

Professional Practice


‘A Favour Returned’ (Prom 42), Twenty Minutes, BBC Radio 3, 14 August 2006.

Interviewed by Moya Brennan (Clannad)  on Compass Ceoil, 3 January 2011, ‘The Origins of the Tradition’, and 6 January 2011, ‘The Tradition Today’.

Interviewed by Tom Service on Herrmann, Music Matters, 12 March 2011.


Giacomo Joyce, Music Theatre (1997).

Metamorphosis for live electronics with WX7 Wind Controller, Leeds (1993). Richard Ingham. Listed under ‘MIDI repertoire’ in the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone.

In Limine Sapientiae (Baritone Saxophone and Piano), British Saxophone Congress. October 17th 1992. Listed under ‘Contemporary repertoire’ in the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone Handbook.

Five Robert Graves Songs (1990) Composer and Deborah Hannah, Leeds 1991.

Fractal Mobiles, Orchestra & Electronic Tape. Leeds (1990).

Dán Leictreonach, Electronic media on PCM encoded Tape. Leeds (1989).

Trio (fl, ob, cl), Leeds Wind Quintet. Leeds (1989).

Septet Northern Sinfonia, 1981; Leeds University 1988.

Solipsism, Solo Alto Saxophone. Nick Turner. Leeds (1987). See under ‘Contemporary repertoire’ in the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone.

Intermezzo, Leeds Wind Quintet (1987).

Hope’s Voice, song cycle. Composer and Debbie Brussel, Leeds (1987).

Saxophone Quartet No 1, Commissioned by the Northern Saxophone Quartet, 1985. First Performance Washington DC 1986. British premiere Purcell Room Dec 1986. Published by Samuel King.

Piano Fantasy Benjamin Frith. Premiered in the Wigmore Hall in 1984 with more than 30 subsequent performances.

Mes Instantanées Aulos Ensemble, First Prize, 1981 Yorkshire Arts Competition, Huddersfield Festival.

Contrasted Landscapes Gemini. Joint Prizewinner, 1980 Yorkshire Arts Competition, Huddersfield Festival.

Wind Quintet No. 2. Commissioned by the Northern Sinfonia Wind Ensemble with the aid of the Arts Council (Dio Fund, 1978)




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