School of Performance staff research

Our research strengths include:

We specialise in electronic and electro-acoustic composition, interactivity in electronic music, and music for film and television. We have a tradition of collaboration with writers, including elements of improvisation and using generated music techniques to accompany and enhance the spoken word.

Creative Music Technology
In our newly equipped studios we develop innovative systems to investigate the human-machine interface and the use of live software processing and sound manipulation. We construct 'hacked' instruments, develop controller interfaces for live electronics and use the latest technology to investigate the creative possibilities of mapping physical gesture to sound.

Our research encompasses critical and contextual investigation, mostly focused on twentieth-century and contemporary music and performance practice, including Cuban music for example, but also early music practice and reception through the work of ethnomusicologist researchers.

Music Therapy
Housed in a brand new Music Therapy Centre, the world-leading music therapy researchers of our Music for Health Research Unit have experience of clinical practice in many fields. Our research includes formal projects, investigative studies, writing and publication of papers and postgraduate studies.

Our staff’s expertise extends from dramatherapy and psychodrama to performance arts. We particularly welcome applications in the areas of intercultural dramatherapy practice, multidisciplinary collaborations and practice-based evidence or evidence-based practice.

Theatre and Performance Studies
Our research spans the 20th and 21st centuries, with current specialisations including experimental theatre, identity politics, interculturalism, digital performance and performance writing. Our researchers are experts in theory and practice, with particular interest in combining performance with areas such as medicine, music, dance and technology.

Staff members and students in these groupings regularly work together on joint projects and conferences.

Recent research projects

On 6 December 2016, Jon Banks (Senior Lecturer, Music) made a broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune with The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments to promote a concert at the Spitalfields Festival on 8 December. His ensemble ‘ZRI’ launched a new CD 'Schubert at the Red Hedgehog Tavern' at a concert in Kings Place, London on 17 December.

At the beginning of November 2016, Alejandro Postigo-Gomez (Lecturer, Performing Arts) presented his project The Copla Musical at the Barcelona Solo Festival. It was a great experience, as the institution hosting the event was British but based in Spain, so the contents of the show resonated with a truly multicultural Spanish-based audience.

In August 2016, Acting Head of Department Nigel Ward’s chapter on ‘The French Theatrical Avant Garde’ was published in The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq, ed. Mark Evans & Rick Kemp. In the same month Nigel attended the Traditional Theatre Training programme at the Kyoto Arts Centre in Japan, for an intensive Noh theatre training. Nigel is currently working on two research papers, as well as submitting other proposals. One of these proposals has just led to his being asked to present a paper at an intercultural Shakespeare on film conference next year in Tokyo. The paper is In the Spider Web: the Macbeths of Akira Kurosawa and Orson Welles.

An important article by Dr Paul Rhys was published in the Autumn 2016 edition of the Computer Music Journal (Rhys, P., 2016. 'Smart Interfaces for Granular Synthesis of Sound by Fractal Organization'. Computer Music Journal, 40(3), ISSN 0148-9267). The article describes the author's software for granular sound synthesis, software that uses fractals to generate clouds of sonic events and provides the underlying mathematical equations (along with graphs, musical notation and sound examples) that illustrate the equations’ outputs. Emphasis is placed on a graphical interface that simplifies exploration of the technique’s possibilities. The author argues that fractal granular synthesis yields sounds with greater interest, across a range of time scales, than does stochastic granular synthesis. A recording of Dr Paul Rhys’ Dialogue for Alto Recorder and Birdsong by recorder player Rachel Barnes has recently been completed and posted online. This is the second in a projected series of Dialogues for solo wind instruments and recorded birdsong.

In 2015, Professor Helen Odell-Miller (Head of Music Therapy Training) and Professor Amelia Oldfield (Professor of Music Therapy) won a bid valued at £200,000 from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to lead the music therapy and autism international randomised controlled trial.

Dr Richard Hoadley's research includes investigations, creative experiments and performances undertaken in collaboration with practitioners in different creative and performance domains. The research focuses on the translation of expression between these domains, which include music (audio and notation), movement (dance) and text (poetry), and its implementation using technology.

Jorg Fachner, ARU Professor of Music Health and the Brain, has pioneered research into music therapy and the brain. The most recent evidence came from a randomised controlled trial, in which over 70 patients were treated for depression using music therapy versus standard care. The results, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, showed that one in four patients displayed beneficial effects from the music therapy, outweighing the results and outcomes for most anti-depressants.