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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) and Sond’Ar-te Ensemble (Lisbon). 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 (now Routledge), 2000).  His book Living Electronic Music was published by Ashgate (now Routledge) in 2007. As an outcome of a major AHRC-supported project (2010-2013), he was co-editor and contributor to Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis (CUP, 2016) and has contributed many further papers and chapters to publications on live electronics, performance, listening, and gender. 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 was a Trustee of its successor organisation ‘Sound and Music’ 2008-2013.  In 2009-2010 he was DAAD Edgar Varese Visiting Professor at the TU, Berlin. He was visiting Professor and Composer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (Perth) in November 2016. He gave the keynote addresses at the Australasian Computer Music Conference 2011 (Auckland) and the International Computer Music Conference 2011 (Huddersfield), Music Science Technology 2012 (São Paulo), WOCMAT 2012 (Taiwan), Audiomostly 2014 (Aalborg), AHEM 2016 (London), BEAST Feast 2017 (Birmingham).

Key research outputs

‘Performance with Technology: Extending the Instrument – From Prosthetic to Aesthetic’, in The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art (Marcel Cobussen, Vincent Meelberg and Barry Truax eds.), New York: Routledge, 2017, pp.427-437.

‘EMAS and Sonic Arts Network (1979–2004): Gender, Governance, Policies, Practice’, Contemporary Music Review, 35/1, 2016, pp.21-31.

Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis (Co-editor (with Leigh Landy) and contributor) (CUP, 2016)

- Emmerson, S. and Landy, L., ‘The analysis of electroacoustic music: the differing needs of its genres and categories’, pp.8-27.

- Emmerson, S., ‘The analysis of live and interactive electroacoustic music: Hans Tutschku - Zellen-Linien (2007)’, pp.333-354.

'Aeolian' (acousmatic) (2016) (11.00). Written for Musiques et Recherches (Brussels). First performance: 24th February 2016, Espace Senghor, Brussels. 

‘Local/Field and beyond. The scale of spaces’ in Brech, M. and Paland, R. (eds.), Kompositionen für hörbaren Raum/Compositions for audible space, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2015, pp.13-26.

‘Listening With Machines: A shared approach’. Organised Sound, 20(01), 2015, pp. 68-75.

'Microvariations (in memoriam Jonathan Harvey)' (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, electronics) (2013-14) (9'30). Commission: Sond’Ar-te Ensemble (Lisbon). First performance: 7th March 2014, Sond’Ar-te Ensemble dir. Miguel Azguime, Centro Cultural de Cascais (3rd International Forum for Young Composers).

‘Live Electronic Music or Living Electronic Music?’ in Bodily Expression in Electronic Music (Deniz Peters, Gerhard Eckel and Andreas Dorschel (Graz) eds.), Routledge, 2012 pp.152-162.

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

‘Stringscape’ (violin, electronics) (2010) (17’). Commission: Darragh Morgan. First performance: Leeds University Festival, 28th April 2010. CD recording: Diatribe Records (Ireland) 2017.

Research interests/expertise

Electroacoustic music – composition, performance, aesthetics and analysis, pedagogy, history; 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).

November 15th - December 4th 2016: Silver Jubilee Visiting Professor at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth WA.

November 28th-30th 2016: Guest mentor composer. Soundstream Emerging Composers Forum, Adelaide SA. 

Membership of external committees

  • Sound and Music – Trustee Board Member (2008-2013)
  • 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)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (from 2015)

Forthcoming events

28th April 2017 - Performance of 'Aeolian'. BEAST Feast, Bramall Music Hall, Birmingham University.

24th November 2016 - Performance of ‘Microvariations’, 'Aeolian' and 'Stringscape' (Decibel Ensemble). WAAPA Auditorium, Edith Cowan University, Perth WA.

20th July 2016 - Performance of 'Resonances'. Conservatorio di Musica di Cosenza, ‘Stanislao Giacomantonio’.

16th June 2016 - Performance of 'Resonances'. Experimental Theater, Abrons Arts Center, New York City Electronic Music Festival. 

27th April 2016 - Performance of 'Sprit of '76' (flute: Carla Rees). PACE, De Montfort University

21st April 2016 - Performance of 'Digswell Tapes (Remix)'. EAVI Concert, Goldsmiths College, University of London.

2nd March 2016 - Performance of ‘Memory Machine’ and 'Aeolian'. Cultural Exchanges Festival, De Montfort University.

24th February 2016 - Performance of 'Aeolian'. Espace Senghor, Brussels.

Conference attendance

‘The Language of Electroacoustic Music (1986)’ (Keynote Address), BEAST Feast, Birmingham University, April 2017.

‘The many histories’ (Keynote Address), Alternative Histories of Electronic Music, Science Museum (London), April 2016.

‘Playing the inner ear – performing the imagination’ (Keynote Address), Audiomostly, Aalborg University, October 2014.

‘Memory – Theatre – Technology’ (Keynote Address), WOCMAT 2012, National Chiao-Tung University, Taiwan, November-December 2012. 

‘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.

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
  • 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

Case studies

Language of Electroacoustic Music (originally Macmillan, 1986 now available through Macmillan-Palgrave) – celebrated 30 years in print in 2016.  Continuous and extensive citation throughout this period.

Living Electronic Music (Ashgate 2007) – over 2000 copies sold, widely cited.
Simon Emmerson at De Montfort University

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Living Electronic Music - Simon Emmerson

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