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
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.
Contribute to the lecture by telling us about music which moves you; take our Musical Chills Survey>>
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.
A remake (with animation and updated music) of the 2011 Phibonacci Nova – A Bossa about the Fibonacci Series featuring Bridget Mermikides on vocals and vocal arranging.
Forget all my moon phases and compasses, this is super useful practical tips to compose with modes. 7 tips to use in your compositions of any style.
Some words on Jeff Beck (with John McGrath of the IGRC)for the Conversation
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.
An investigation of how music conveys and triggers such a range and depth of emotion. Featuring the BRECVEMA (aka EVERBEAM X) model of music psychology.
Juslin & Västfjall, ‘Emotional responses to music: The need to consider underlying mechanisms, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 2008; 559-621.
Juslin, Liljeström, Västfjäll, & Lundqvist. (2010). How does music evoke emotions? Exploring the underlying mechanisms. In P.N. Juslin & J. Sloboda (Eds.), Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, and Applications (pp. 605-642). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Huron, D. (2006). Sweet anticipation: Music and the psychology of expectation. MIT Press
QED Theme, Corale – Mermikides, M.
Small Comfort – George Hrab
“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.
A short, deep dive into harmonic consonance and dissonance and an understanding of harmonic flavour and spiciness. Dissonance curves, interval classes, vectors, All-interval tetrachords and introducing the Harmonic Scoville (or Scofield?) Scale.
This video reveals the beautifully interconnected symmetry of the diatonic modes, three entwined cycle of rotation, brightness and reflection in a single compass. Further Reading/Sources: Touissaint’s original Euclidean paper (concerning rhythms but relevant here): http://cgm.cs.mcgill.ca/~godfried/pub… Persichetti’s quite awesome and insightful ’20th century harmony’: https://www.academia.edu/38883692/Vin…
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.
A cosmic view of the earthly and unassuming diatonic scale.
‘Taking Care’: supporting and recognising nurses’ caring role
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.
Keynote Lecture for the World Sleep Congress in Rome, Italy March 2022, examining the use of sonification to communicate and reveal the inner experience of sleep.
A shamefully/lessly nerdy exploration of the guitar fretboard, its nature, language and futures. Adapted from my keynote lecture at the 2022 Guitar Foundation of America conference.
It’s privilege to present the Keynote for the Guitar Foundation of America convention this year.
The event runs June 26, 2022,5 PM – 9:30 PM UTC+01 on Zoom (register to join)You are warmly invited to join us for a series of discussions with scholars from Brazil, the United States, Switzerland, and England. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak informally with the presenters or simply listen. Registration is required. Abstract below:
Diamonds, Abaci, and Hexagrams: Exploring the Pitch Surface of the Guitar Fretboard
In this presentation, I will analyze the idiosyncrasies, challenges, limits, and affordances of the guitar’s “pitch surface”: its fretboard and tuning. Whatever the context—staff notation, music theory, improvisation, performance, and other arenas of guitar activity—the layout of the fretboard exerts a profound influence on how guitarists learn, play, and compose. Inspired by De Souza, Goodrick, and Martino, I will also explore the benefits of creative constraints: scordatura, capo, MIDI tools, and other ways of remapping the guitar’s pitch matrix. These constraints can be used to break the guitarist’s tight auditory-motor link, revitalizing the fretboard as a primary musical space and insightful musical “abacus.”
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.
May 24th 2022 2pm, a lecture for staff, students and public Oxford University’s wonderful new Centre for Eudaimonia and Human Flourishing. Directed by Prof Morten Kringelbach “The Centre undertakes interdisciplinary research into Human Flourishing, Eudaimonia and the Life Well-Lived with a special focus on human brain dynamics through its link with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University, Denmark.”
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