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Dr John Richards

Job: Reader in Music

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: Leicester Media School

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

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

T: +44 (0)116 207 8269



Personal profile

John Richards explores performing with self-made instruments and the creation of interactive environments. He has worked with many leading improvisers and musicians in the field of live electronics. In 2002, his work with kREEPA helped initiate the OIK project at STEIM, Amsterdam, that involved the hacking of commercially available hardware to create economic musical interfaces. He has released numerous pieces in various guises on Gabriel Prokofiev’s nonclassical label including a work for piano and electronics performed by GéNIA with re-mixes by Vex’d and Max De Wardener amongst others. He has also worked with Tim Wright developing systems for live performance and music for Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara.

Since 2003, John Richards has been exploring the idea of Dirty Electronics that focuses on face-to-face shared experiences, ritual, gesture, touch and social interaction, as well as directing the Dirty Electronics Ensemble. The group have performed specially commissioned pieces by Merzbow, Pauline Oliveros, Howard Skempton (founder member of the Scratch Orchestra), Gabriel Prokofiev and Nicholas Bullen (ex-Napalm Death and Scorn). Other notable collaborations include working with Rolf Gehlhaar (original Stockhausen group), Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle, Keith Rowe and STEIM (Amsterdam). As Dirty Electronics he has explored the intersection between artwork and printed circuit board and has created various artworks/circuit boards. In 2011, Dirty Electronics collaborated with graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy to create a specially commissioned hand-held synth for Mute Records. Workshops and performances with Dirty Electronics have taken place internationally including: the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (London), Bent Festival (Los Angeles), Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) (Germany), Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) (London), Supersonic Festival (Birmingham), FutureEverything (Manchester), Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan), University of the Arts (Berlin), and IRCAM (Paris). 

John Richards has written numerous articles on hybridity, post-digital theory and dirty electronics. He completed a doctorate in electroacoustic composition at the University of York in 2002. He has also taught improvisation at Dartington International Summer School, and has been a visiting lecturer at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (CvA) and in the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University.

Key research outputs

Richards, John, Collateral Damage article, the Wire, 338, April 2012

Richards, John, Lead & Schemas, Institute of Contemporary Arts: Roland Magazine, Issue 9, 2011

Richards, John, Getting the Hands Dirty, Leonardo Music Journal, 18, 2008

John Richards, A Case Study in The Digital Musician: Creating Music with Digital Technology, ed. Andrew Hugill, London, Routledge, 2007

Richards, John, 32kg: Performance Set-ups for the Post-Digital Age. Presented at NIME06, IRCAM, Paris, June 2006

Areas of teaching

All aspects of the Music, Technology and Innovation program. Predominantly: performance, composition, programming and outreach.


  • Preparatory Course in Music, Dartington College of Arts, 1987 - 1989
  • BA (Hons), First Class, University of York, 1996
  • MA in Music, Distinction, University of York, 1997
  • PhD, Electroacoustic Composition, University of York, 2002

Courses taught

  • Music, Technology and Innovation BA (Hons)
  • Music, Technology and Performance BA (Hons)

Honours and awards

Paul Hamlyn Awards for Composers Nomination, 2010, 2012


Current research students

PhD supervision (1st) (2012)

  • Neal Spowage
  • Ryan Jordan
  • Manolis Manousakis
  • Si Waite
  • James Kelly
  • Steve Jones
  • James Frize
  • Marinos Koutsomichalis
John Richards