Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr James Mooney

Lecturer in Music Technology

0113 343 2532

Office: Music building, room 2.14

Office hours: Generally Fridays, 12:30-1:30pm, during teaching weeks (sign-up on office door or just turn up, first-come first-served)

Ph.D., M.Sc., B.A. (hons)

Electronic Music History, Sound Studies, Science and Technology Studies


Lecturer in music technology and electronic music, with an emphasis on its history and influence upon musical practice and thinking via the application of theories and methods of science and technology studies (S&TS). Specialist in the history of electronic music, in particular the work of Hugh Davies.

Previous work in multi-loudspeaker sound spatialisation – continued interests in this area.

1st class honours degree in Music from Newcastle University. M.Sc. in Music Technology from University of York. Ph.D. University of Sheffield.

Research Interests

  • Electronic music history – recently worked on the Hugh Davies Project
  • Electroacoustic music studies / musicology of electronic and computer music
  • Sound studies

Further information on Hugh Davies and his work can be found here. (In particular, follow the Videos link for recorded seminars and presentations, and the Publications link for written publications.)


Undergraduate teaching:

  • MUSS1030 Music in History and Culture – lectures on electronic music history
  • MUSS1520 Introduction to the Sciences of Music – lectures on acoustics, digital and analogue audio, and other theory relevant to sound and music technologies
  • MUSS2620 Music Technology – lectures on the influence of sound recording upon musical practice throughout history
  • MUSS2721 Music in Context: The Tools of Music-Making – interpreting musical/technological practice and history via the theoretical lenses of social constructivism, technological determinism, and affordance theory
  • MUSS3722 Music in Context: History of Electronic Music in Great Britain 1945-75 (not running 2014/15)
  • MUSS3640 Music Technology – supervision of projects

Postgraduate teaching:

  • New for 2014/15 – Computer Music Contexts – seminars on history, current practice, and critical perspectives in computer music
  • MUSI5662 Music Technology Project – supervision of projects


I am currently :

  • Director of Impact and Innovation for the School of Music
  • Programme Manager for the MA course in Electronic and Computer Music
  • Link tutor for the BSc programme in Music Multimedia and Electronics (run jointly with the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering).

Previous departmental responsibilities include:

  • Programme Manager for MA Computer Music (2014)
  • Programme Manager for MMus Music Technology and Computer Music (2014)
  • Exams Officer (2010-12)


Journal articles

  • Mooney J, Schampaert D, Boon T (2017) “Editorial: Alternative histories of electroacoustic music”, Organised Sound. 22.02: 143-149.
    DOI: 10.1017/S135577181700005X

    license: © Cambridge University Press 2017

  • Mooney J (2017) “The Hugh Davies Collection: live electronic music and self-built electro-acoustic musical instruments, 1967–75”, Science Museum Group Journal. 7: 170705-170705.
    DOI: 10.15180/170705, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/111950/

    The Hugh Davies Collection (HDC) at the Science Museum in London comprises 42 items of electronic sound apparatus owned by English experimental musician Hugh Davies (1943–2005), including self-built electro-acoustic musical instruments and modified sound production and manipulation hardware. An early proponent of ‘live electronic music’ (performed live on stage rather than constructed on magnetic tape in a studio), Davies’s DIY approach shaped the development of experimental and improvised musics from the late 1960s onwards. However, his practice has not been widely reported in the literature, hence little information is readily available about the material artefacts that constituted and enabled it. This article provides the first account of the development of Davies’s practice in relation to the objects in the HDC: from the modified electronic sound apparatus used in his early live electronic compositions (among the first of their kind by a British composer); through the ‘instrumental turn’ represented by his first self-built instrument, Shozyg I (1968); to his mature practice, where self-built instruments like Springboard Mk. XI (1974) replaced electronic transformation as the primary means by which Davies explored new and novel sound-worlds. As well as advancing knowledge of Davies’s pioneering work in live electronics and instrument-building and enhancing understanding of the objects in the HDC, this article shows how object biographic and archival methodologies can be combined to provide insight into the ways in which objects (instruments, technologies) and practices shape each other over time.

  • Mooney JR (2015) “Hugh Davies’s Electronic Music Documentation 1961–1968”, Organised Sound: an international journal of music and technology. 20.1: 111-121.
    DOI: 10.1017/S1355771814000521, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80587/

  • Mooney JR (2010) “Frameworks & affordances: understanding the tools of music-making”, Journal of Music, Technology and Education. 3.2-3: 141-154.
    DOI: 10.1386/jmte.3.2-3.141_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80573/

    This article presents a simple and flexible model in which the tools of music-making (‘frameworks’) are viewed in terms of what they allow us to do (their ‘affordances’). The model has analytical and pedagogical applications in any discipline that involves interactions with tools. This article focuses on musical applications and will therefore be of particular interest to music educators, composers, performers and researchers seeking an alternative perspective on the relationship between music and the tools used to compose and perform it. The model deals with technology in a broad sense that includes traditional acoustic instruments and other non-electronic tools as well as electronic and computer technologies. An account of how the frameworks and affordances model could be usefully applied in teaching and research, with specific examples, is given.


  • Mooney JR (2016) “Technology, Process and Musical Personality in the Music of Stockhausen, Hugh Davies and Gentle Fire”, In: Misch I; Grant M (eds.) The Musical Legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke Verlag. 102-115
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80572/

    Author URL [www.james-mooney.co.uk]

    Hugh Davies, an English composer, instrument-builder, improviser and musicologist, was personal assistant to the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1964-66. Gentle Fire is the name of Davies's experimental music ensemble, active from 1968-75, which performed Stockhausen's works as well as works by other avant-garde and experimental composers, and the group's own distinctive Group Compositions. The purpose of this essay is to examine a number of Stockhausen’s works from the period 1964 to 1968, and a number of Davies’s and Gentle Fire’s from 1967 to 1974, highlighting points of similarity and difference between them. Particular attention is paid to Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I (1964–5), Kurzwellen (1968), and Aus den Sieben Tagen (1968), Davies’s Quintet and Galactic Interfaces (both 1967–8), and his self-built instruments, and Gentle Fire’s Group Compositions (1970–4). Discussion focuses upon three areas: firstly, technology, and the microphone in particular; secondly, the ways in which process-based systems are used to shape musical material; and thirdly, the role in the selection of musical material of what members of Gentle Fire have termed ‘musical personality’.

  • Mooney JR (2014) “Les Musiques Electroacoustiques: Construction of a Discipline”, In: Kucinskas D; Kennaway G (eds.) Music and Technologies 2. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 1-9
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/85690/

    Author URL [music.leeds.ac.uk]

  • Mooney JR (2013) “Beyond auditive unpleasantness: an exploration of noise in the work of Filthy Turd”, In: Goddard M; Halligan B; Spelman N (eds.) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music. New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury. 312-325
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80571/

    In this essay we examine the work of noise-artist Filthy Turd with a particular focus upon its relationship with noise, exploring the specific ways in which his practice can be considered ‘noisy’, as well as suggesting what it might tell us about the nature noise itself. As our title suggests, we will show that — far from simply being a ‘racket’ — the notion of noise is explored and presented here in several different ways that go beyond superficial or ‘common sense’ conception of noise as auditive unpleasantness. In doing so we will show how these seemingly disparate aspects of Filthy Turd’s practice—the nonsense text, the repulsive imagery, as well as some of the specific musical techniques themselves—come together to form a coherent noise-aesthetic.

Conference papers

  • Mooney JR (2015) Hugh Davies’s Electroacoustic Musical Instruments and their Relation to Present-Day Live-Coding Practice : Four Suggestions. Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Proceedings: Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/91942/

    This paper presents the self-built electroacoustic musical instruments of Hugh Davies (1943-2005), and proposes points of similarity between Davies’s practice and present-day live coding practice. (Live coding, in this context, refers to the practice of using a computer programming language to program a musical performance in real time.) In the first part of the paper, the context within which Davies’s instrument-building practice developed, in the late 1960s, is outlined, and a number of specific instruments are described. Aspects of Davies’s performance style, repertoire, and the ensembles with which he performed are discussed, as are activities such as instrument-building workshops and public exhibitions of instruments, in which he regularly participated. In the second part of the paper, four areas of connection with present-day live coding practice are suggested, namely, that both are: (1) part of a long historic tradition of live electronic music performance (as opposed to electronic music constructed in the studio); (2) practices in which the performer him or herself builds the apparatus (whether physical or code-based) through which the music is mediated; (3) improvised or semi-improvised art-forms in which music is developed in real time, within a framework bounded by material or quasi-material constraints; and (4) centred upon communities of practice with a distinct agenda of promoting understanding through engagement.

  • Mooney JR (2015) Hugh Davies’s Electroacoustic Musical Instruments and their Relation to Present-Day Live Coding Practice: Some Historic Precedents and Similarities. International Conference on Live Coding Proceedings: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Live Coding ICSRiM.: 53-62.
    DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.19319, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87789/

    The purpose of this paper is to present the self-built electroacoustic musical instruments of Hugh Davies (1943-2005) to the international live coding community, and to propose points of similarity between Davies’s practice and present-day live coding practice. In the first part of the paper, the context within which Davies’s instrument-building practice developed, in the late 1960s, is outlined, and a number of specific instruments are described. Aspects of Davies’s performance style, repertoire, and the ensembles with which he performed are discussed, as are activities such as instrument-building workshops and public exhibitions of instruments, in which he regularly participated. In the second part of the paper, four areas of connection with present-day live coding practice are suggested. Respectively, these focus upon live coding’s status: (1) as part of a long historic tradition of live electronic music performance (as opposed to electronic music constructed in the studio); (2) as a practice in which the performer him or herself builds the apparatus (whether physical or code-based) through which the music is mediated; (3) as an improvised or semi-improvised art-form in which music is developed in real time, within a framework bounded by material or quasi-material constraints; and (4) as a community of practice with a distinct agenda of promoting understanding through engagement. This paper is presented as a case study in exploring live coding’s historic precedents, and as a contribution toward situating live coding within a broader historical, cultural context.

  • Mooney JR (2015) Hugh Davies’s Self-Built Instruments and their relation to Present-Day Electronic and Digital Instrument-Building Practices: Towards Common Themes. International Festival for Innovations in Music Production and Composition (IFIMPAC)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84316/


    Author URL [www.james-mooney.co.uk]

    The first part of this essay describes some of Hugh Davies’s self-built instruments, focusing on their material characteristics and playing techniques. The context in which Davies’s instrument-building practice developed is outlined, and four themes that characterise his work are proposed: economy, materiality, community, and environment. The second part of the essay focuses on present-day electronic and digital instrument-building practices. A number of practitioners whose work has been directly influenced by Davies are discussed. Finally, some more speculative suggestions are made concerning how Davies’s practice might indirectly be connected—in terms of three of the themes mentioned previously—to the present-day practice of live-coding. This essay describes research in progress, and as such does not present any concrete conclusions. The research is being carried out as part of an AHRC-funded project in partnership with The Science Museum. For further information see http://hughdaviesproject.wordpress.com.

  • Mooney JR (2014) Les Musiques Électroacoustiques: construction of a discipline. 3rd International Conference ‘Music and Technologies’ Proceedings: Music and Technologies 2 Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.: 1-9.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80579/

    My hypothesis in this paper is that Hugh Davies redefined what electronic music was via his research and documentation work in the 1960s, and, that his definition of electronic music still holds true today (at least as far as electronic music in an academic context is concerned). My argument, in other words, is that Hugh Davies constructed the discipline of what is now known as electroacoustic music. Two questions are as follows. First of all, how did Davies go about constructing a discipline of electroacoustic music? To answer that question I examine Davies’s published and unpublished research work from 1961–1968. Second, to what extent was he successful? Or, to put it another way, to what extent has Davies’s definition of electronic music been accepted? To answer this second question I examine subsequent published literature and projects from 1968–2012 that have cited or been based on Davies’s work, and show how the structure of Davies’s model of electronic music is reflected in this subsequent work. This is a transcript of a presentation given at the 3rd International Conference ‘Music and Technologies,’ Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania, 15 November 2013.

  • Mooney JR (2014) Hugh Davies’s International Electronic Music Catalog: a preliminary exploration of its classification system and subsequent influence. Royal Musical Association 50th Annual Conference (Unpublished)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80570/

    In this paper I suggest that Hugh Davies’s Répertoire International des Musiques Électroacoustiques / International Electronic Music Catalog (1968)—which lists every work of electronic music up to April 1967—is more than just a list of compositions, and that it in fact expresses a particular view—encapsulates a particular narrative—of electronic music. I also show some of the ways in which that particular narrative has been carried forward in subsequent writings that have referenced the Catalog, as a way of indicating how the Catalog—and by extension Davies’s narrative—has shaped subsequent discourses on electronic music and its history. To do this I refer to the systems of classification used in the Catalog, through the theoretical lens provided by Bowker & Star in their book Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences.

  • Mooney JR (2014) Hugh Davies's Electronic Music Documentation 1961–8. Electroacoustic Music Studies (EMS) Network conference 2014 Proceedings: EMS14 - Electroacoustic Music Beyond Concert Performance - Berlin http://www.ems-network.org/: Electroacoustic Music Studies Network (EMS).
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80569/

    In this paper I provide an account of certain key aspects of Hugh Davies’s electronic music research and documentation in the 1960s. By presenting evidence from a range of Davies’s published and unpublished writings I aim to show how Davies sought to document the development of the electronic music phenomenon up to 1967. In his writings from this period, Davies commented upon the fragmented nature of the electronic idiom, as evidenced—for example—in multiple parallel nomenclatures (elektronische Musik, musique concrète, Cage’s ‘Music for Tape-Recorder’ group, Varèse’s ‘organised sound,’etc.). ‘This proliferation of different names for what is basically the same kind of music,’ Davies wrote in 1963, ‘shows that a considerable number of composers in different countries are all trying to find a workable idiom.’ I aim to provide an account of some of the ways that Davies described the idiom’s maturation as an international, interdisciplinary praxis, conveying—perhaps for the first time—a sense of the various international, aesthetic, and disciplinary threads coalescing into an apparently coherent whole, a process driven by the exchange of ideas across international and disciplinary boundaries. Even in his earliest unpublished writings on the subject (dating from 1961), Davies drew attention to the presence of ‘a large group of international composers’ at the WDR studio in Cologne, and also indicated the existence of studios in various different countries throughout the world. Davies’s tendency to classify by nation was not merely an organisational device, since he went on to emphasise the role of internationalisation as a potent source of musical innovation, both in the fledgling idiom of electronic music in particular and in avant-garde music more generally. Specifically, he pointed to the developmental avenues opened up via the hybridisation of already-developed international musical traditions—a phenomenon that he contrasted with the ‘on-the-spot’ invention of new musical forms, syntaxes, etc., which he referred to as ‘parlour games.’ He also drew attention to the exchange of ideas mediated by visits to electronic music studios by composers with different international and disciplinary backgrounds, and to the catalytic effect this had on the development and maturation of the electronic idiom in the late 1950s and early 60s. He sought to convey a sense of the interdisciplinary nature of electronic music by drawing parallels with the techniques of painting, sculpture and other musical traditions such as jazz in his earlier writings, and via the provision of several appendices in his International Electronic Music Catalog, each of which focussed on the use of electronic music techniques in a different interdisciplinary area. All the while, Davies was working toward the production of a comprehensive inventory of electronic music, beginning in earnest with his ‘Discography,’ which listed recordings available commercially on records or for hire on magnetic tape. This endeavour reached its pinnacle with the publication of the Catalog in 1968, which Davies estimated (quite accurately, as far as anybody can tell) accounted for ‘probably about 90% of all electronic music ever composed.’ (Davies made this suggestion in unpublished promotional materials dating from 1967.) The Catalog remains, to this day, the most complete record of international electronic music activity up to the end of 1967. A broader aim of this research is to work towards an evaluation of the implications of this, historiographically speaking. To what extent, and with what consequences, do subsequent published histories of electronic music rely upon data provided in the Catalog, for instance? In what ways might Davies’s model of electronic music as an international, interdisciplinary praxis be criticised, and what might be the implications of such criticism for the field of electroacoustic music studies?

  • Mooney JR (2013) Internationalisation and historicisation in Hugh Davies’s international electronic music catalog: a position paper -OR- Hugh Davies: international electronic music champion. Eighth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80577/

    In this paper I focus on Hugh Davies's work as a researcher and documenter of electronic music in the 1960s. In particular, I discuss Davies’s work as a champion of two causes in electronic music - internationalisation; and historicisation - explain how these were manifest in his programme of research from 1961-8, and show how these concerns are reflected in subsequent studies that reference Davies's work. This text is a combined transcription of presentations given at the Eighth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900 (Liverpool Hope University, 12–15 September 2013) and the Royal Musical Association’s 49th Annual Conference (Institute for Musical Research, London, 19–21 September 2013). An online version (slides and recorded narration) can be viewed at http://www.james-mooney.co.uk/davies_sep13.

  • Mooney JR (2013) Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke in Leeds. Exploring Theatre and Music ‘Ephemera’ - Centre for the Comparative History of Print (CHOP) (Unpublished)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80576/

    In this essay I briefly discuss Stockhausen's Klavierstück XI, its score, and its relationship to Stockhausen’s electronic music. I mention the connection that Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke have with the city of Leeds. I conclude by outlining the Klavierstücke’s relevance to two of my current research and teaching projects, one project documenting the life and work of electronic musician and researcher Hugh Davies (1943–2005), the other a broader research and teaching project exploring the relationships between musical tools/technologies and musical practice. This is a slightly adapted transcription of an oral presentation given at an archival research workshop whose purpose was to highlight, for the benefit of both archive staff and other academics, the research potential of various items within the Special Collections at University of Leeds. Thus, this essay is brief, and not aimed at music specialists in particular.

  • Mooney JR (2013) International Electronic Music Catalog: Hugh Davies and the (ethno)musicology of electronic music. Electronic Music Symposium at Anglia Ruskin (EMSAR) (Unpublished)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80575/

    In this essay I discuss Hugh Davies’s Répertoire International des Musiques Electroacoustiques / International Electronic Music Catalog, a book of 330 pages that lists, ostensibly, every piece of electroacoustic music ever composed up to the time of its compilation. I begin by describing the Catalog itself, and the process of compiling it. I then discuss Hugh Davies—aspects of his character, and interests—and suggest how these might contribute toward an interpretation and contextualisation of the Catalog. I refer to a sample of publications that reference the Catalog, highlighting some of the broader issues that the Catalog raises in relation to the musicology of electroacoustic music, including some specifically international issues.

  • Mooney JR (2012) Process in Gentle Fire's group compositions. Music and/as Process
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80580/

    Oral presentation given at Music and/as Process symposium, University of Huddersfield, UK, 8 December 2012.

  • Mooney JR (2012) The Instrument is the Score: Relationships between Instrument, Performer, and Score. SPEEC Symposium: Building an Instrument

    Author URL [www.james-mooney.co.uk]

    This presentation is based on a talk delivered at SPEEC symposium on 'building an instrument', Oxford University, in January 2012. An instrument shapes musical output because its acoustic properties define a sound-world and its physical design defines the range of possible interactions with it. A score shapes musical output by presenting a stimulus (graphic, verbal, aural, etc.) which, through its formal and conceptual design, offers itself open to interpretation as a set of instructions, as it were. From this standpoint, any object that can generate sound qualifies as a musical instrument; any stimulus that is apt to be interpreted (whether strictly or loosely) as a set of instructions qualifies as a musical score. To put it more simply: anything can be an instrument, and anything can be a score. In an interview broadcast in 1973 the members of the English experimental music group Gentle Fire discuss the ‘gHong’, a multi-player electro-acoustic instrument comprising a metal frame fitted with springs, contact microphones, and other electronic apparatus. Richard Bernas, one of the members of Gentle Fire, says: ‘The instrument is the score of what we are playing.’ The idea that ‘the instrument is the score’ challenges the conventional ontological distinction between those two things. The statement can be quite easily understood, however, if one considers the instrument and the score simply to be two kinds of tool that are used to shape music in some way. In this simplified respect the instrument and the score are indeed ‘the same thing’. In a recent publication I defined a ‘framework’ as ‘any entity, construct, system or paradigm that contributes in some way to the composition or performance of music’. Thus, instruments and scores are both musical frameworks. The essentially arbitrary nature of instruments and scores is embodied in the notions of the ‘found instrument’ and ‘found score’. A found instrument is simply an every-day object, found, and repurposed as a musical instrument. A found score is an every-day object repurposed as a musical score. Both techniques were explored by the late Hugh Davies, also a member of Gentle Fire. Instruments and scores are differentiated by the particular affordances and constraints that they present to the performer: in plain English, the things they allow (affordances) and do not allow (constraints) to happen. That affordances and constraints are the very essence of all musical frameworks, and that this can in turn raise ontological questions in the domain of music-making, is the underlying theme of my presentation. I will illustrate this with reference to both historical and contemporary examples, the intention being to provide a theoretical and ontological background against which the idea of ‘building an instrument’ can be considered.

  • Mooney JR (2011) Affordances and Constraints: Understanding the Tools of Music-Making. Art of Record Production (Unpublished)

    The tools used to produce music have a direct and tangible influence upon the resulting music. Whatever those tools might be — software or hardware; recording, editing and synthesis technologies; analog and digital signal processing devices; even acoustic instruments — they will, unavoidably, make themselves heard in the musical results. Building upon existing theory, the essence of the frameworks and affordances model is that the tools of music-making — the ‘frameworks’ — are viewed in terms of what they allow us to do — their ‘affordances’. Consider magnetic tape — the physical tape itself: it is linear; it can be cut up into sections and joined together again; it can be moved past playback heads at different speeds, forwards or backwards. Those are the affordances. When we hear the tape loops in The Beatles’ ‘Revolution No. 9’, or the reversed piano note with the attack cut off in a piece of early electronic music, we can effectively ‘hear’ the affordances of the tape medium. The tape — as one of the frameworks of production — has made itself audible in the music. So it is, I argue, will all of the tools of music making, though the obviousness of the results varies dramatically from case to case. Consider also: • The influence user interface paradigms such as the mixing-desk fader on music production in hardware and (since it tends to be emulated there) software platforms; how this is related to the ubiquitous computer mouse; • The interaction of multiple frameworks in ensemble performance and the influence of the studio itself, with its constituent frameworks; • The carrying over of ‘redundant’ affordances in new frameworks through the mechanism of cultural inertia (‘Why does a digital mixer have faders?’, ‘Why does software have pretend faders?!’); I conclude this presentation by considering how the frameworks and affordances model can be usefully employed in the practice, education and analysis of music.

  • Mooney JR (2010) Frameworks and Affordances: A Critical Approach to Music Technology Education. Researching Music, Technology and Education International Music Education Research Centre (iMerc).: 28-29.

  • Mooney JR, wilson D (2010) Aural and non-aural manifestations of noise in the music of Filthy Turd. “Bigger than Words, Wider than Pictures”: Noise, Affect, Politics (Unpublished)

  • Stefani E, Mooney J (2009) Spatial composition in the multi-channel domain: aesthetics and techniques. International Computer Music Conference Proceedings: Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2009 University of Michigan: International Computer Music Association.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80581/

    Published in comference proceedings for ICMC2009, McGill University, Monreal, Canada

    Author URL [www.leeds.ac.uk]

    This paper outlines technical and aesthetic approaches to sound spatialisation for electroacoustic music composition. In particular, the paper discusses how spatialisation (sound diffusion) is used to realise specific musical objectives. Technological solutions to problems associated with adapting multichannel compositions for live spatialisation are explored, with particular reference to the open-source Resound system [2, 3]. Examples of Resound applications are provided to illustrate the potential of the system for controlling complex spatial behaviour during live performance.

  • Mooney JR, Moore D (2008) Resound: open-source live sound spatialisation. International Computer Music Conference 2008 Proceedings: Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2008 University of Michigan: International Computer Music Association.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80584/

    Resound is an open source cross-platform software tool for real time multi-channel sound spatialisation. This paper gives a non-technical account of the key capabilities of the system, predominantly from the standpoint of live performance in electroacoustic music, with specific examples of how the various functionalities might be used.

  • Mooney JR, Moore D (2008) Resound: a design-led approach to the problem of live multi-loudspeaker sound spatialisation. Royal Musical Association Conference 2008 (Unpublished)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80582/

    The process of live sound spatialisation has many unpredictable parameters. Large numbers of loudspeakers with variable frequency responses, hastily configured routings, live and recorded audio sources that change between works, unforeseen technical requirements, compatibility issues, unfamiliar control interfaces, limited setup, rehearsal and change-over time, complex power and signal routing schemes, long cable runs and unpredictable venue acoustics are all issues familiar to performers of electroacoustic music. Unsurprisingly, the articulation of space in a live, multi-loudspeaker scenario can be problematic. Even 'simple' CD-only diffusion requires dexterity on the part of the performer and considerable technical planning. If we consider multiple sources, with more than two channels of audio, each source to be diffused independently under the control of a single performer, the difficulties are compounded. Now consider that we want to stage a live performance of multiple works where each item on the programme has different requirements, and we have a real problem on our hands. A solution to this problem is needed. In Towards and New Architecture, Corbusier observes that a problem, clearly stated, naturally yields solutions through the process of design. Thus, the aeroplane is the logical conclusion to the problem, clearly stated, of sustaining flight. This ethos has been adopted by the authors in beginning to address the 'problem' of sound spatialisation, and in the ongoing development of Resound, a system comprising a bespoke hardware design and open-source software. This paper begins by stating the problem of sound spatialisation. Against this background, the Resound system is presented in design and implementation.

  • Mooney JR, Moore D (2008) A concept-based system for the live diffusion of sound via multiple loudspeakers. Digital Music Research Network Conference 2008 (Unpublished)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80585/

    This paper presents a conceptual framework for sound diffusion: the process of presenting multiple channels of audio to an audience in a live performance context, via loudspeakers. Terminology that allows us to concisely describe the task of sound diffusion is defined. The conceptual model is described using this terminology. The model allows audio channels (sources) and loudspeakers (destinations) to be grouped logically, which, in turn, allows for sophisticated abstract methods of control that supercede the restrictive 'one-fader-one-loudspeaker' approach. The Resound project - an open source software initiative conceived to implement and further develop the conceptual model - is introduced. The aim is, through further theoretical and practice led research into the conceptual model and software respectively, to address the technical, logistical and aesthetic issues inherent in the process of sound diffusion.

  • Mooney JR, Parkinson A, Bell P (2008) Sound spatialisation, free improvisation and ambiguity. Sound and Music Computing Conference 2008 Proceedings: Proceedings of the SMC Conference 2008 Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona: Sound and Music Computing.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80583/

    This paper documents emergent practice led research that brings together live sound spatialisation and free improvisation with digital tools in a performance context. An experimental performance is described in which two musicians -- a turntablist and a laptop performer -- improvised, with the results being spatialised via multiple loudspeakers by a third performer using the Resound spatialisation system. This paper focuses on the spatial element of the performance and its implications, its technical realisation and some aesthetic observations centring on the notion of `ambiguity' in free improvisation. An analysis raises numerous research questions, which feed into a discussion of subsequent, current and future work.

  • Mooney JR, Moore A, Moore D (2004) M2 Diffusion: The Live Diffusion of Sound in Space. International Computer Music Conference 2004 Proceedings: Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2004 University of Michigan: International Computer Music Association.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80586/

    This paper outlines some of the rapid changes taking place in electroacoustic music performance and introduces the M2 diffusion system, currently in use at The University of Sheffield Sound Studios (USSS). The paper focuses upon a process commonly known as ‘sound diffusion’ and the performance of music usually played from CD or computer. The M2 system comprises bespoke software and hardware tools offering greater flexibility and improvisation in performance and new approaches to the musical composition of space. The paper speculates upon the future of the M2 system with SuperDiffuse software, and the new ‘composition opportunities’ it has triggered.


  • Mooney JR (2016) How the Institutional Data Repository helped me promote my data. University of Leeds.
    DOI: 10.5518/200

    As part of International Data Week, Sept 11-17 2016, James Mooney reflects on his experience of using the Research Data Leeds institutional data repository.

Internet publications

  • Mooney JR, Boon T, Schampaert D (2017) International Conference: Alternative Histories of Electronic Music, 2016. University of Leeds. (Accepted)
    DOI: 10.5518/160

    International Conference: Alternative Histories of Electronic Music, held at the Science Museum’s Dana Research Centre and Library, London, UK, 14-16 April 2016. This dataset includes the conference programme (including abstracts for 50 papers), website archive, and video recordings of selected papers. Invited talks were given by Simon Emmerson, Trevor Pinch, Sarah Angliss, Leigh Landy, and Georgina Born. The conference was supported by an AHRC grant (ref: AH/M005216/1).


  • Mooney JR, Shearing D VOID. 10 Dec. 2007

    Author URL [www.youtube.com]

    An immersive installation. Scenography by David Shearing; 10-channel sound by James Mooney.

  • Mooney JR, Shearing D VOID/ROOM. 10 Dec. 2016

    Author URL [www.youtube.com]

    An immersive installation. Scenography by David Shearing; 10-channel sound by James Mooney.

  • Mooney JR, Shearing D VOID/ROOM. 10 Dec. 2006

    Author URL [www.youtube.com]

    An immersive installation. Scenography by David Shearing; 10-channel sound by James Mooney.


  • Mooney JR Amplified Objects: The Hugh Davies Project Exhibition.

    In partnership with the Science Museum (London) and Access Space (Sheffield), this exhibition showcased the experimental instrument-building work of Hugh Davies (1943-2005), along with new instrument-building work and performances carried out during a two-week residency and public instrument-building workshop. Three new instruments were built by Anton Mobin, instrument builder in residence for the AHRC-funded project of which this exhibition was part: Prepared Chamber, Autonomous Object, and Springs Web. Eight new instruments were built by members of the public as part of the project workshop. The exhibition featured 66 pieces in total: 3 new experimental musical instruments (Anton Mobin's Autonomous Object and Springs Web, plus one built by a workshop participant); 18 photographs of the residency and culminating public concert; 20 photographs of the public instrument-building workshop; and 22 photographs of Davies's self-built instruments and modified electronic sound apparatus from the Science Museum archive. Three listening stations allowed members of the public to listen to recordings of performances by Hugh Davies, Anton Mobin and friends, and the participants of the instrument-building workshop playing their newly built instruments.


  • Mooney JR, Moore D Resound: open source sound spatialisation.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80610/

    Author URL [resound.sourceforge.net]

    Resound is an open source cross-platform software tool for real time multi-channel sound spatialisation. This poster details the key capabilities of the system, predominantly from the standpoint of live performance in electroacoustic music, with specific examples of how the various functionalities might be used.


  • Mooney JR (2016) Hugh Davies, "Voice", "Not to be Loaded with Fish", and "Birth of Live Electronic Music"; plus improvisations: Performances by Steve Beresford, Phil Minton, Aleks Kolkowski and Sean Williams, with pre-concert lecture by James Mooney.
    DOI: 10.5518/58

  • Mooney JR (2016) Hugh Davies, "Galactic Interfaces", "Mobile with Differences", and "Printmusic"; Alex McLean, "Printmusic - Live Coded"; and David Keane, "Les Voix Spectrales": Performances by Grey Area and Alex McLean, with pre-concert lecture by James Mooney.
    DOI: 10.5518/57

  • Mooney JR (2016) Hugh Davies, "Quintet" and "Music for a Single Spring"; Stockhausen, "Verbindung" and "Intensitat" from "Aus den Sieben Tagen"; Christian Wolff, "Edges"; and Owen Green, "Neither the Time nor the Energy": Performances by Grey Area, with pre-concert lecture by James Mooney.
    DOI: 10.5518/38

Research Projects & Grants

Current and previous grants include…

  • £130k AHRC Fellowship, ‘Hugh Davies: Electronic Music Innovator’, February 2015 – April 2016.
  • £1255 from British Academy / Leverhulme Trust (Small Research Grants) to cover the costs of archival research at the Hugh Davies Archive and Stockhausen Foundation, 2012–13. Project title: ‘Hugh Davies: International Electronic Music Champion.’
  • £1100 from University of Leeds Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange hub (‘Ignite’ scheme) to develop a partnership with the Science Museum, May 2012.
  • £2000 from the British Library and Saga Trust to cover the costs of an 18 month period as Edison Research Fellow, working at the Hugh Davies Archive, 2010–12.
  • £500 from the University of Leeds Centre for Practice-Led Research in the Arts (CePRA) to run an interdisciplinary workshop on sound as a performance stimulus, 2011. Project title: ‘Aural Models.’

Previous projects (not currently maintained by me):

  • Resound – multi-loudspeaker sound spatialisation project (not currently maintained). http://resound.sourceforge.net
  • M2 Sound Diffusion system – multi-loudspeaker sound spatialisation system still in use at University of Sheffield Sound Studios

Research Centres & Groups

External Appointments

  • External examiner for BA and MA Music programmes, University of Salford, 2014/15–date.
  • External examiner for BA Creative Music Technology & BA Popular Music programmes, University of Hull, 2013/14–date.
  • External examiner for Foundation Degree in Creative Music, Salford City College, 2014/15–date.
  • External examiner for Foundation Degree in Popular Music, City of Liverpool College, 2014/15–date.
  • Course validator, Music Industries UG programmes, University of the Highlands and Islands, 2011.
  • Peer reviewer for P. Pumilia-Gnarini (ed.), Didactic Strategies and Technologies for Education  Incorporating Advancements (IGI-Global), 2011.
  • Peer reviewer for Art of Record Production Conference, 2011.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Current Ph.D. Supervision (expected completion dates in brackets)

  • Dorien Schampaert, social and literary history of the Ondes Martenot (Dec. 2018)
  • Craig Steer, listener perception of effects processing in popular music (Jan. 2019)
  • Jamie Stephenson, techno-phenomenology of aural awareness (Sep. 2020)

Previous Ph.D. Supervision (successful completion date in brackets)

  •  Daniel Wilson, portfolio of compositions exploring ontologies of noise (Sep. 2014)

PhD Thesis

“Sound Diffusion Systems for the Live Performance of Electroacoustic Music”

100,000-word thesis on electroacoustic music, focusing on the aesthetics of live performance using multi-loudspeaker systems, plus co-design of the M2 Sound Diffusion System.

Full abstract and PDF are available on my personal website: http://www.james-mooney.co.uk. Follow ‘Publications’ link and scroll down the list …

Professional Practice

Previous sound design work:


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