Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications

School of Music


In this section:

Research Overview

The School is situated in a research-intensive University, and supports a substantial community of staff and postgraduate students working in a wide range of music research areas, including: composition (acoustic, electro-acoustic), performance, film music, music technology (history and development, computing, multimedia, musical instruments), music psychology, historical & critical musicology, ethnomusicology, popular music & culture, music & literature, music journalism, music education, and music & wellbeing (health, environment, sustainability). PhD supervision and opportunities correspond with this breadth.

We have an outstanding track record of attracting funding support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and other major funders (more than £3m for projects led by members of the School since 2013).

The institutional environment offers extensive cognate and cross-disciplinary opportunities, and a distinctive faculty grouping places the School alongside performance, art history/fine art, design and communications units. These contexts resonate with the School’s research environment, developing around three cluster domains: Music and Science, Music as Culture, and Making Music.

REF2014: the Research Excellence Framework is a five-yearly exercise assessing the quality of research in the UK’s universities, and in 2014 for the first time this included the impact of that research.

83% of the School’s overall submission was rated as internationally excellent or world-leading, with a significant music-only volume of 14.90fte entered.

100% of the School’s Impact submission was rated as internationally excellent or world-leading (Impact GPA=3.70)

100% of the School’s Environment submission was rated as internationally excellent or world-leading (Environment GPA=3.60)

The full results for REF2014 Unit 35 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts can be found here

(NB many universities combine music, drama, theatre research into one Unit 35 submission; the University of Leeds made two submissions, the volume of research in the School justifying a music-only submission)

Research Clusters

The shared interests of the School’s researchers has led to the formation of research clusters, demonstrating interaction between staff who, primarily, make music, study music as culture, or investigate the science of music. The Research Clusters provide a creative academic context for PhD student supervision, collaborative research and impact building, and they also identify key themes within our research portfolio.

Examples of work in these cluster areas (see staff profiles under People for more publication information):

Music as Culture

From 2014-2018 Steve Muir is leading an international team for the AHRC ‘Care for the Future’ Large Grant: Performing the Jewish Archive, a £1.5m interdisciplinary project.

James Mooney has won a £130k AHRC Fellowship to work on ‘Hugh Davies: Electronic Music Innovator’, 2015-16

David Cooper’s book Béla Bartók is being released in 2015 by Yale University Press

Derek Scott’s German operetta project is supported by 1million Euros of European Research Council funding.

In 2014 Lady Gaga and Popular Music: Performing Gender, Fashion, and Culture, edited by Martin Iddon and Melanie Marshall was published by Routledge.

Ed Venn was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2013 for work on Thomas Adès’s Asyla

Michael Allis published Temporaries and Eternals: the Music Criticism of Aldous Huzley, 1922-23 in 2013

Music and Science

David Cooper, Ian Sapiro and Laura Anderson are working on the Trevor Jones film music project , supported by £570k of AHRC funding.

Alinka Greasley has been awarded a £247k AHRC Early Career award for ‘Hearing aids for music: exploring the music listening behaviour of people with hearing impairments’.

Alex McLean and Kia Ng’s Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves is an 18-month AHRC Digital Transformations Amplification project, involving live coding of music and collaboration with partners in design and textiles, in Denmark, Nottingham, Aarhus and Munich.

Karen Burland has been awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for ‘Musical Leisure: Exploring Identities at Work and Play’.

Making Music

Clive Brown received a large AHRC grant for work on 19th- and early 20th-century annotated editions of string music (bibliographical problems, editorial content and implications for performance practice), leading the CHASE project team.

Mic Spencer, Scott McLaughlin, Ewan Stefani and Martin Iddon have had compositions performed in Copenhagen, Vancouver, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Stuttgart, Glasgow, Darmstadt, Freiburg, Huddersfield (HCMF); they have worked with and been performed by artists such as Bozzini Quartet, Duo Contour, Ensemble Modelo62hand werk, loadbang+, Trio Atem, Trio Scordatura, Diego Castro (guitar), John Eckhardt (bass)Paul Hession (drums), Nina Whiteman (voice), Eva Zöllner (accordion), and broadcast by the BBC.


Research Projects & Initiatives

Links to some of the School’s research projects:

Hearing aids for music (Alinka Greasley), £247k AHRC Early Career Fellowship, 2015-2018.

Hugh Davies: Electronic Music Innovator (James Mooney), £135k AHRC Early-Career Fellowship, 2015-2016.

Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves (Alex McLean PI, Kia Ng CI),  £64k AHRC Digital Transformations, 2014-2016

Performing the Jewish Archive (Steve Muir PI), £1.5m AHRC Care for the Future grant, 2014-2018.

German Operetta in London and New York (Derek Scott), €1m European Research Council project, 2013-

The Professional Career and Output of Trevor Jones (David Cooper, Ian Sapiro), £570k of AHRC grant, 2013-2016.

Collection of Historical Annotated String Editions, CHASE (Clive Brown), £502k AHRC project, 2008-2012

Research Centres

The School of Music hosts: Institutional Centre for Scientific Research in Music (Burland, Cooper, Greasley, McLean, Mooney, Ng, Windsor) http://www.leeds.ac.uk/icsrim/

The School contributes to: Centre for Practice-Led Research in the Arts (Iddon, McLaughlin, Mooney, Spencer, Stefani) http://www.pvac.leeds.ac.uk/cepra/

Staff in the School collaborate on projects within: Leeds University Centre for English Music (LUCEM); Leeds University Centre for Historically Informed Performance (LUCHIP)


University Research Centres

Staff members contribute to:
Centre for African Studies (hosted by the School of Politics and International Studies)

Popular Cultures Research Network (hosted by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures)

We are linked to other institutions facilitated by the White Rose and Worldwide Universities networks, grants from UK and European partners, RCUK, and the University’s creative partnership with Opera North (DARE). Music is also part of the University’s Transformation Fund initiative – The Culture, Society and Industry Hub

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