Professor John Young

Job: Professor of Composition

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 8220




Personal profile

John Young is a composer working in the field of electroacoustic music.  His output includes works for multi-channel loudspeaker environments, music for instruments and electroacoustic sounds and electroacoustic documentary conceived for radio. 

John‘s music explores the use of sound recording as a creative tool, which he uses to bring sounds from natural environments into the studio where he transforms and refashions them with digital audio tools.  This involves merging sound-images of the real world with more abstract sonic materials, creating elaborate designs that challenge traditional notions of musical materials and form but also invite the listener to enter imaginative worlds where familiar objects and environments are given new meanings.

John received his PhD in musicology from the University of Canterbury in 1990, and in the same year was appointed Lecturer in Music at the Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) where he was also Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios 1995-2000.  He joined DMU in 2000 and from 2009-12 served as Head of Research for the Faculty of Humanities.

His recent work includes a 16-channel composition commissioned by the Groupe de recherches musicales for the Radio France cycle of electroacoustic music performances, given in the Salle Olivier Messiaen in Paris, an audiovisual work created with photographer Lala Meredith-Vula extending from his 2009 work Lamentations, commissioned by the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, and a piece for piano and electroacoustic sounds for Xenia Pestova.  His work is published principally by the Montréal Empreintes Digitales label, with whom he has released two solo discs: La Limite du Bruit (2002) and Lieu-Temps (2007). 

Key research outputs

John’s extended radiophonic work Ricordiamo Forlì was awarded the Euphonie d’Or in 2010 by the Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, France.  The work relates the story of his soldier father and civilian mother meeting in Forlì, Italy in 1944 during the 8th Army campaign there, using oral histories, war correspondent reports and other recorded sound from the period in conjunction with an extensive array of electroacoustically processed sound to convey the narrative and emotional significance of the events.  The work gained a first prize in the Institute’s open competition in 2007, one of the world’s most significant forums for electroacoustic music.  Euphonies d’Or awards have been made on two past occasions and are selected from the works previously awarded prizes in the competition.  35 in total have been awarded over the years, representing one work for each year of the competition’s history, which, in the words of the IMEB, “represent particularly brilliant moments in the history of electroacoustic music.”

Research interests/expertise

  • Composition (electroacoustic and instrumental/vocal) particularly ‘acousmatic’ electroacoustic works focusing on recorded environmental sound sources and digital signal processing
  • Construction of narrative in music
  • Spectral composition
  • Use of historical sound sources in electroacoustic music
  • Multi-channel approaches to electroacoustic composition
  • Analytical approaches to electroacoustic composition, especially the role of source recognition and the relationship between realistic sound-imagery and spectromorphological transformation
  • Form in electroacoustic music.

John welcomes postgraduate and research students with interests in any of the above areas.

Areas of teaching

Composition (electroacoustic, instrumental and vocal); orchestration; acoustics for musicianship; history and analysis of 20th and 21st century music.


MusB(Hons), PhD (Cant.)

Courses taught

Music, Technology and Innovation BA (Hons)

Music, Technology and Performance BA (Hons)

  • MUST1001 Foundations of Music—acoustics and psychoacoustics for musicianship
  • MUST3026 Composing with Dance—a year long project in creating music for a dance company (in conjunction with the Dance Department)
  • MUST3000/3024—supervision of final year dissertations and practical projects

Honours and awards

2011 Honorary Mention, Musica Nova 2011, Prague (X)

2010 (with Lala Meredith-Vula) nominated for best short film at DokuFest International Film Festival, Kosova, in 2010 (Are You Everybody?)

2010 Euphonie d’Or, Bourges International Competition (Ricordiamo Forlì)

2010 Special Mention, Metamorphose 2010 Competition, Brussels (Lamentations)

2007 First prize, 34th Concours Internationaux de Musique et d’Art Sonore Electroacoustiques, Bourges (Ricordiamo Forlì)

2005 Finalist, 32nd Concours Internationaux de Musique et d’Art Sonore Electroacoustiques, Bourges (Trace)

2003 Third Prize ‘Pierre Schaeffer’ Electronic Music Composition Competition, Pescara, Italy (Sju)

2001 Second Prize Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica de São Paulo (Liquid Sky)

2001 Finalist, ARTS XXI competition, Valencia, Spain (Sju)

2000 Pre-selected (two works), Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition, France (Liquid Sky and Allting Runt Omkring)

1997 Special Mention, Prix Noroit, Arras, France (Virtual)

1997 Honorary Mention, Prix Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (Virtual)

1997 Pre-selected, Bourges International Electroacoustic Music competition, France (Virtual)

1996 First prize, Stockholm Electronic Arts Award, Sweden (Inner).

Membership of external committees

Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council (2009-12)


Forthcoming events

Guest composer, MANTIS Electroacoustic Festival 2012, 27 October 2012, University of Manchester

Research seminar and concert, University of Edinburgh, 9 February 2013.

Conference attendance

2011 Thinking in Sound: Sounding the Imagination. Institute of Musical Research, DREAM Symposium: Technology and Musical Thought, University of London.

2010 Playing with Space: Inside and Outside Sound. Keynote address, New Zealand Electroacoustic Symposium, University of Auckland.

2009 Narrative, Rhetoric and the Personal: Storytelling in Acousmatic Music.  Paper presented at the 2009 Electroacoustic Music Studies Conference, Buenos Aires.

2007 Electroacoustic Musicianship: Sounds in Search of Music? Paper presented at the Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts Conference, Dartington College.

2007 A Practice-based Approach to Using Acoustics and Technology in Musicianship Training.  With Picinali, L and Moraitis, D. Proceedings of the 2007 International Computer Music Conference, Copenhagen: International Computer Music Association: 61-64.

2007 Issues of Form in Electroacoustic Music. Paper presented at Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference, Leicester.

2006 Sound Design and Sonic Imagery. Sound Art and Creative Technology:  One-day Conference on Electroacoustic Music. London Metropolitan University.

2006 Figures and Forms: Acousmatic thought in an interactive age.  Ai-maako Festival, Santiago de Chile.

2005 Sound, Sign and Sense. Paper presented at Sonimágenes, Buenos Aires

2005 Ear and Eye. Keynote lecture, Sonimágenes, Buenos Aires

2005 Sound In Structure: Applying Spectromorphological Concepts. Paper presented at Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference, Montréal,

2004 Sound Morphology and the Articulation of Structure in Electroacoustic Music. Résonances conference, IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2003.

Current research students

First supervisor:

  • Panos Amelidis (Non-linear Storytelling as Strategy for Electroacoustic Composition).
  • Louise Rossiter (Expectation in Electroacoustic Music) (AHRC-funded project).
John Young