How is music able to convey and trigger such range and depth of emotion? Why does it elicit joy, sorrow, consolation and the chills? Employing research and theoretical models from neuroscience, psychology and musicology, we examine the extraordinary ways that primal and conditioned listening combine to such complex emotive effect. Examples from pop, jazz, rock, film, global, traditional and classical forms are presented under the light of nostalgia, visual imagery, emotional contagion, rhythmic entrainment, aesthetics, expectation and the extra-musical.
Great to be involved in this Scientific American podcast episode unpacking micro-timing expression (‘swing’, ‘time-feel’ etc) with the brilliant Nina Kraus, Theo Geisel and Charles Keil. Thanks to host Joe Polidoro.
I am excited and honoured to be appointed the 37th Gresham Professor of Music, and the rich opportunity to share music knowledge it affords. This is a post that has been running since 1597 – offering (thanks to the will of Thomas Gresham) free public lectures to all – and to inherit the professorship from the likes of John Bull, Iannis Xenakis and Joanna MacGregor is quite surreal. I’ll be giving six public lectures a year which you can attend live, watch on live-stream or after the event. Details on the 2023-24 Lecture Series – The Nature of Music are here
Release of Perks & McGrath edited collection of contemporary guitar research. A wonderful project to be involved with (contributing a chapter on ‘The Digital Fretboard) and design the cover)
In the 21st Century, the guitar, as both a material object and tool for artistic expression, continues to be reimagined and reinvented. From simple adaptations or modifications made by performers themselves, to custom-made instruments commissioned to fulfil specific functions, to the mass production of new lines of commercially available instruments, the extant and emergent forms of this much-loved musical instrument vary perhaps more than ever before. As guitars sporting multiple necks, a greater number of strings, and additional frets become increasingly common, so too do those with reduced registers, fewer strings, and fretless fingerboards. Furthermore, as we approach the mark of the first quarter-century, the role of technology in relation to the guitar’s protean nature is proving key, from the use of external effects units to synergies with computers and AR headsets. Such wide-ranging evolutions and augmentations of the guitar reflect the advancing creative and expressive needs of the modern guitarist and offer myriad new affordances.
21st Century Guitar examines the diverse physical manifestations of the guitar across the modern performative landscape through a series of essays and interviews. Academics, performers and dual-practitioners provide significant insights into the rich array of guitar-based performance practices emerging and thriving in this century, inviting a reassessment of the guitar’s identity, physicality and sound-creating possibilities.
“Hidden music” is a talk given in the interdisciplinary seminar series on Eudaimonia and Human Flourishing on 24.05.2022 at Linacre College, Oxford University. The talk is in two conceptual halves: The nature of music and the music of nature. For info and to watch the talk click below.
Every chord in the (12TET) Universe – a gentle introduction to Pitch-class Set Theory.
To download the Mr. PC patches (for Max/MSP standalone and Max for Live click below. Note: 1) they both need the excellent and free Bach package by A. Agostini & D. Ghisi (installable in Max’s Package manager) consider donating (to them). 2) For Apple Silicon computers, Max needs to be running under Rosetta. 3) These are good enough tools for teaching and music adventure – use at your own theoretical risk.
UK nursing trainees are better prepared to deliver patient-centred care as a result of ‘Taking Care’, a mixed-methods drama research project undertaken by researchers at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Kingston University. This joint project was awarded the highest possible grade in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.
The project was led by former Doctoral Programme Leader, Dr Alex Mermikides, who was inspired by the nurses she met when her brother Milton was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a serious type of blood cancer. Taking Care addresses two challenges facing nurse educators: teaching the sensitive and effective communication of ‘care’ and preparing students for the demanding emotional labour required by their profession. The huge physical and emotional toll nursing can take on staff has been bought into sharp focus over the past two years, but the nursing curriculum hasn’t traditionally taught trainees how to ‘care’ for patients without compromising their own emotional wellbeing.
Mermikides’ ensemble created an interactive drama, Careful, following a collaborative research process with performers and trainee nurses. The process of devising Careful revealed that ‘care’ can be understood as a skilled practice rather than an inherent virtue. The feedback from students on the workshops and performances has been overwhelmingly positive and has led to the materials being rolled out to other nursing schools across the country. As student nurse Michal Kaim reflected in The Guardian, ‘elevating nursing to the level of art gave me another reason to be proud of the choice I have made to become one’. The full performance of Careful can be viewed online.
A collaboration with Enzo de Sena (Senior Lecturer on the Tonmeister programme, University of Surrey), Deborah Dunn-Walters, Sarah Bailey and Nils Marggraf – sonifying kinship DNA and recognising familial relationships as shared motivic content. A documentary produced in collaboration with University of Surrey was aired on Italy’s Rai 3 flagship science programme Quinta Dimensione (viewership ≈886,000). Segment below.
The talk Hidden Music: Sonic translations of Nature will explore music as a tool for listening, and understanding patterns of the natural world, blurring the boundaries between people and the ‘outside world’, and ‘art’ and science. It will take place in the Pink Seminar Room in Linacre College and streamed online. Details here.
Martino Unstrung (2008, Sixteen Films, dir. Ian Knox) – the Pat Martino documentary I had the unique privilege of scoring – is now distributed through Journeyman Pictures and available for rent, purchase on iTunes, GooglePlay, Vimeo as well as screening requests. A rare insight into a rare artist. https://www.journeyman.tv/film/6605 http://martinounstrungfilm.com
World Sleep 2022 is a global scientific congress bringing the best of sleep medicine and research to Rome, Italy, March 11–16, 2022. The World Sleep congress, now in its 16th iteration, consistently gathers the best minds in sleep medicine and research for multiple days of scientific sessions and networking.
Sound Asleep has now been presented at British Sleep Society, European Sleep Research Conference and World Sleep Congress engaging with hundreds of members of the International Sleep Community.
It was fun putting together this article with Chris Bird for Total Guitar (Feb 2022), and using the whole BoomerBendGate as an opportunity for some bendological research. In so doing discovered some ridiculously killer zoomer players in Tim Henson, Mateus Asato, Wes Hauch, Ichiko Nito, Plini and all.
Super happy to be made an Ableton Certified Trainer, and join a wonderful international community of artist-educator-technologists from 56 countries. Just 8 of us from the UK were selected since 2013, so it’s a real privilege. I am of course a technophile (=nerd), but I have a particular love for Ableton Live (and Push) which – now with Max for Live – is incredibly open, flexible, and linked to diverse forms of historical and contemporary music making in composition, performance, production, and programming. I genuinely love Live and Ableton and relate to their musical ethos deeply.