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Music Research Group

The Music Research Group brings together theoreticians, historians and practice-based researchers engaged in exploring music from multiple perspectives from across the University: composition, performance, ethnomusicology, history, economy, law and cultural studies.

It includes practitioners composing popular and experimental music; historians, researching popular music in the UK, Europe and across the globe; archivists, collecting rare musical instruments and music samples. Our aims are to bring together theory, history and practice in all aspects of music research.

The Music Research Group connects with the music industry, through conferences, guest speaker programme, music festivals and active involvement with the Leaders in Residence programme. Since its inception, the group has organised several international conferences on topics such as the future of popular music, musical improvisation and live music. The work of this group is reflected in several volumes, published by Routledge, Bloomsbury, Palgrave and Equinox. Key projects have included Popular Music in the Post-Digital Age and the series of events devoted to improvisation. Practice-based research in composition, performance and recording has led to a number of record releases, concerts and workshops. Interdisciplinary research includes collaborations with groupings as diverse as Dance and Somatic Practice and the Law School

Here is a small selection of our many projects:

Global Sound Movement

Global Sound Movement (GSM) was founded in 2014 by Phil Holmes and Paresh Parmar as an initiative committed to the preservation and re-use of unique sounds of the world. GSM source rare, hand-built musical instruments of cultural significance and travel to record them in their natural environment in collaboration with the instrument builders and performers. Once the initial recordings have been made, months of post-production create sample libraries enabling the global musical community to include them in new compositions.

Along with the musical elements, natural recording sessions take place to archive the rich sonic tapestry that surrounds the villages and cities that GSM visit. All location recordings are available for sound designers and music producers to compose with, adding authenticity to creative projects based in these specific regions.

Music producers can purchase these unique sounds and instruments along with royalty-free loops to use as they wish in modern compositions. All funds generated are sent to the original communities and instrument builders. This has a lasting impact as monies are being used to educate children in Africa, build community dwellings in Indonesia and support agricultural workforces in China. In 2016 Global Sound Movement won the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Excellence and Innovation in the Arts'.

The Future of Popular Music

This project was the brainchild of Ewa Mazierska, Les Gillon and Tony Rigg and was realised through a series of conferences and publications. The four conferences were titled

  • ‘Future Sounds: Meaning and the Future of Popular Music’ (May 2016)
  • ‘The Future of Live Music’ (June 2018);
  • ‘The Present and Future of Electronic Music’ (November 2018)
  • ‘The Present and Future of Music Law’ (June 2019).

The ‘Future of Music’ conferences included academic papers and panels with representatives from the music industry. These were attended by international speakers from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria. There were presentations by music professionals from Hungary and Austria, along with many from the UK, allowing for the exchange of ideas. They were open to the general public and were well attended, with the audience reaching over 300 participants.

The tangible results of these conferences were academic publications. In 2019, Mazierska, Gillon, and Rigg published an edited collection Popular Music in the Post-Digital Age: Politics, Economy, Culture and Technology. They also published a second collection, based on the conference ‘The Future of Live Music’, published in 2020 under the title The Future of Live Music (Bloomsbury). This was edited by the same team of researchers.

The third collection, The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music expected in 2021. In addition, along with leading UK music lawyer Ann Harrison Tony Rigg published The Present and Future of Music Law in summer 2021

Adam de Paor-Evans: Rhythm Obscura

Rhythm Obscura was initiated in 2017 by partners from other international academic institutions, Justin Williams (University of Bristol) and David Kerr (University of Johannesburg). The project’s core agenda is revealing the hidden histories of music cultures and exploring their significance for individuals, families, and communities. Rooted in ethnographic research and cultural theory, Rhythm Obscura has produced two monographs, a range of open access journal articles, three international symposia, and numerous public panel discussions, and workshops, comprising artists, practitioners, and academics

UCLan Recordings

UCLan Recordings supports music production by students, staff, and local musicians, augmenting research practice outputs of staff, supporting the development of entrepreneurial and managerial skills, and releasing music and media across all major digital platforms globally.

UCLan Recordings has also supported Cold Bath Street, a band led by Simon Partridge and comprising UCLan music staff, current undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as alumni. UCLan Recordings has released several albums by the band and in May 2019 staged a concert where the band performed with one of the world’s leading drummers, Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and Asia).

Future plans for UCLan Recordings include releases by electronic music pioneer Graham Massey (808 state, Bjork) and acclaimed guitarist Aziz Ibrahim (Stone Roses, Ian Brown, Simply Red) who is working with producer Johnny Jay on EDI projects focussing on the South Asian community in Lancashire. UCLan Recordings is also due to publish an album of music resulting from Jon Aveyard and Dan Wilkinson’s practice-based ‘Third City’ via the editorial board-controlled imprint ‘X-Periments in Sound’.

Members of the Music Research Group welcome PhD projects in theoretical and also practice- based areas of research:

  • Popular Music (history and practice of)
  • Music Performance
  • Composition
  • Music technology
  • Avant Garde and Experimental Music
  • Community-based Music Practice

We are committed to public engagement. Please see specific members academic profiles and CLok pages for details on relevant:

  • Monographs & edited volumes
  • Live Performances
  • Record Releases
  • Conferences that bring together academics and practitioners
  • Contributions to edited volumes
  • Papers published in international peer review journals

Please see specific members academic profiles and Clok pages for details on relevant and current outputs.

The School has a growing community of UK and international students working on doctorates and taught masters.

Further details on the Masters courses can be found here:

Music, MA

Music Industry Management and Promotion, MA

For PhD enquires, please email relevant staff or Dr Les Gillon