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Professor Simon Emmerson

Job: Professor in Music, Technology & Innovation

Faculty: Technology

School/department: Leicester Media School

Research group(s): Music, Technology & Innovation Research Centre (MTIRC)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8238




Personal profile

Simon Emmerson came to De Montfort as Research Professor in November 2004 after many years as Electroacoustic Music Studio Director at City University, London. He originally studied sciences and music education at Cambridge before completing a PhD in Electronic Music at City.

As a composer he is committed to live performance with electronics and has now forty years of work reflecting the changing technology of music; commissions include works for the Smith Quartet, Philip Sheppard (electric cello), Philip Mead (piano) with the Royal Northern College of Music Brass Quintet, Darragh Morgan (violin) and Keynote+ (Jane Chapman and Kate Ryder - harpsichord and piano).  He has also completed purely electroacoustic commissions from the IMEB (Bourges), the GRM (Paris) and the Inventionen Festival (Berlin). 

CDs of his works have been issued by Continuum (1993) and Sargasso (2007 and 2008).  He contributed to and edited The Language of Electroacoustic Music in 1986 (Macmillan, still in print) and Music, Electronic Media and Culture (Ashgate, 2000).  His book Living Electronic Music was published by Ashgate in 2007.  He has also contributed to Computer Music Journal, Contemporary Music Review and the Journal of New Music Research

He was founder Secretary of EMAS (The Electroacoustic Music Association of Great Britain) in 1979, and served on the Board of Sonic Arts Network from its inception until 2004.  He is a Trustee of its successor organisation ‘Sound and Music’.  In 2009-2010 he was DAAD Edgar Varese Visiting Professor at the TU, Berlin.  In the summer of 2011 he gave the keynote addresses at the Australasian Computer Music Conference (Auckland) and the International Computer Music Conference (Huddersfield).

Key research outputs

‘Resonances’ (electroacoustic) (2007) (11’30).  Commission: Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges.  Performances: Bourges (June 2007), Leicester (November 2007), Köln (November 2007), Oberlin (September 2008), Helsinki (April 2009), Lanús (Argentina) (June 2009), Keele (July 2009), London (November 2009 & March 2012), Edinburgh (February 2010), Corfu (May 2010), Stockholm (May 2011), Rome (April & October 2011), Beijing (October 2011), Glasgow (March 2012).

‘Stringscape’ (violin, electronics) (2010) (17’). Commission: Darragh Morgan. Performances: London (April 2010), Leeds (April 2010), Manchester (September 2010), Leicester (March 2011), Dublin (March 2011), Belfast (March 2011), Huddersfield (August 2011), Canterbury (May 2012).

‘Memory Machine’ (electroacoustic concert/installation) (2010) (12’). Commission: Inventionen Festival Berlin. Performances: Berlin (July 2010), Aberdeen (November 2010), Leicester (March 2011), Auckland (July 2011), São Paulo (July 2012).

‘Dreamscape’ (piano, harpsichord, electronics) (2011) (15’). Commission: Keynote+. Performances: Malmö (November 2011), London (June 2012).

Research interests/expertise

Electroacoustic music – composition, performance, aesthetics and analysis, pedagogy; contemporary music; music and technology.

Areas of teaching

  • Research Professor supervising Masters and PhD research students in electroacoustic and contemporary music studies, practice and theory


  • BA (Cambridge) (1972): Natural Sciences and Education (Music and Physics)
  • Certificate in Education (PGCE) (Cambridge) (1972): Physics and Music
  • PhD (City University, London) (1982): ‘Analysis and the Composition of Electroacoustic Music’

Courses taught

  • Supervisor on MA(Res), MPhil and PhD programmes

Honours and awards

1985: First Prize (Mixed Category), Bourges Electroacoustic Awards for Time Past IV (soprano, tape).

1987 Arts Council Electroacoustic Music Bursary to be ‘Visiting Research Fellow’ (Summer Term) at MIT, Media Laboratory (Cambridge, Mass.).

1992 (residency): Visiting Composer, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, towards a commission for the Bürck/Rühle piano duo (ZKM funded).

1993 (residency): Visiting Composer, Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Bourges towards a GMEB commission (GMEB funded).

April 2007 (residency): Visiting Composer, Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges towards a IMEB commission (IMEB funded).

September 2008: (residency), visiting scholar, Oberlin College Ohio (Oberlin College funded).

Winter semester 2009-2010: Edgar Varese Visiting Professor, Technische Universität, Berlin (DAAD funded).

Membership of external committees

  • Sound and Music – Trustee Board Member (o)
  • Eye Music Trust (Colourscape) – Trustee Board Member (ongoing)

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Performing Rights Society (ongoing member)
  • BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters and Composers) (ongoing member)

Forthcoming events

Performance of ‘Stringscape’ (Darragh Morgan), Royal Welsh College of Music, Cardiff, November 2012.

Invited paper and performance, WOCMAT2012 (International Workshop on Computer Music and Audio Technology), National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan, November-December 2012.

Conference attendance

‘Location - Dislocation – Relocation (‘Where is live electronic music?’)’ (Keynote address), IV Seminar - Music Science Technology, University of São Paulo, July 2012.

'What is live about electronic music?’ (Keynote address), Trondheim Musikkteknologidagene (Trondheim, October 2011).

‘Music Imagination Technology’ (Keynote address), International Computer Music Conference, Huddersfield, July-August 2011.

‘Living in a performing world – performing in a living world’ (Keynote address), Australasian Computer Music Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, July 2011.

‘’Experimental’ – how useful is the scientific metaphor?’ (Keynote address), International Experimental Music Symposium, Coventry University, September 2010.

Symposium ‘Music in the Global Village’, Budapest December 2009, invited session coordinator and text editor.

‘Live electronic music or living electronic music?’ (invited paper), ‘Bodily Expression in Electronic Music’, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, November 2009.

‘Beyond ‘avant garde’ – demilitarising the terminology’ (invited paper), Sixth Biennial International Conference on Music since 1900 (ICMSN) Keele University, July 2009.

‘Personal, local, universal – where are we?’ (paper), Electroacoustic Music Studies Network (EMS09) Buenos Aires, June 2009.

‘Form or Forming’ (paper), Académie International de Musique Electroacoustique Bourges, Réunion June 2009.

Current research students

  • Weiwei Jin FT, 1st supervisor
  • Marij van Gorkom, PT, 1st supervisor
  • Audrey Riley, PT, 1st supervisor
  • Takuro Lippit, PT, 2nd supervisor
  • Bill Brunson, PT, 2nd supervisor
  • Neal Spowage, PT, 2nd supervisor
  • Louise Rossitter, PT, 2nd supervisor
  • Emmanuil Manousakis, PT, 2nd supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

‘New Multimedia Tools for Electroacoustic Music Analysis’, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Research Grant (standard), October 2010 – September 2013, co-PI, DMU-based.


Professional esteem indicators

  • Organised Sound (CUP), 1996- (ongoing), Editorial Board Member, issue editor vol.15.2 (2010)
  • Radical Musicology (Newcastle University), 2008 – ongoing, Editorial Board Member
  • Journal of Sonic Studies (Leiden University NL), 2010 – ongoing, Editorial Board Member

Other occasional journal reviewing: 

  • Contemporary Music Review, Journal of New Music Research, Popular Music

Other Reviewing:

  • Routledge Publishers (2010): Pre-contract proposal and manuscript review.
  • Ashgate Publishing (2010): Pre-contract proposal and manuscript review.
  • AHRC Peer Review College (2008-2012)

Case studies

Language of Electroacoustic Music (originally Macmillan, 1986 now available through Macmillan-Palgrave) – celebrated 25 years in print in 2011.  Continuous and extensive citation throughout this period.

Living Electronic Music (Ashgate 2007) – over 1500 copies sold and going well.

Referring to the BBC/London Sinfonietta ‘Sonic Explorations’ public event and concert, Kings Place, London, October 2011, Robert Worby of the BBC cited “your paper 'In what form can ‘live electronic music’ live on?' has been invaluable.  Absolutely essential to this project.” (paper in Organised Sound 11(3)).

Simon Emmerson

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