Professor Simon Emmerson

Job: Professor in Music, Technology & Innovation

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: Leicester Media School

Research group(s): Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)

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 nearly fifty years of work reflecting the changing technology of music; commissions include works for the Smith Quartet, GRM (Paris), Inventionen Festival (Berlin), Sond-Arte Ensemble (Lisbon), BEAST (Birmingham) and for soloists Philip Sheppard (electric cello), Darragh Morgan (violin), Philip Mead (piano), Carla Rees (flute) and Heather Roche (clarinet). 

Solo 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). Most recently he has edited The Routledge Research Companion to Electronic Music (2018). He has written many further papers and chapters on live electronics, performance, listening, and gender including to journals such as Organised Sound, 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 Edgard 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), the International Computer Music Conference 2011 (Huddersfield), Music Science Technology 2012 (São Paulo), WOCMAT 2012 (Taiwan), Audiomostly 2014 (Aalborg), Alternative Histories of Electronic Music 2016 (London), BEAST Feast 2017 (Birmingham), Noisefloor 2019 (Staffordshire),  Bowed Electrons 2019 (Cape Town, Pretoria, Witwatersrand)  and Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR) 2020.

Research group affiliations

  • Music, Technology and Innovation - Institute for Sonic Creativity (MTI2)

Key research outputs

‘Playing the Inner Ear: Performing the Imagination’, in The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination, Volume 2 (Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard, Mads Walther-Hansen, and Martin Knakkergaard eds.), OUP 2019, pp.259-278.

‘Feeling sound’, in Music Analysis and the Body: Experiments, Explorations and Embodiments (Nicholas Reyland, Rebecca Thumpston eds.), Leuven Studies in Musicology 6. Leuven: Peeters, 2018, pp.191-208.

'Solo Flute Quartet' (flutes, electronics) (2017-18) (17'). Commission: Carla Rees. First Performance: City University, London, 20th  February 2018.

The Routledge Research Companion to Electronic Music: Reaching out with Technology (Editor and contributor) (Routledge, 2018)

 - Emmerson, S., ‘Introduction - music practice: reaching out with technology’, pp.1-17.

 - Emmerson, S. and Fields, K., ‘Where are we? Extended music practice on the internet’, pp.249-271.

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

‘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: Centro Cultural de Cascais (3rd International Forum for Young Composers), 7th March 2014, Sond’Ar-te Ensemble dir. Miguel Azguime.

‘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.

‘Memory Machine’ (electroacoustic concert/installation) (2010) (12’). Commission: Inventionen Festival Berlin. First performance: Technische Universität Berlin (Inventionen Festival), 27th July 2010.

‘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

  • Eye Music Trust (Colourscape) – Trustee Board Member, Chair (ongoing)

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Performing Rights Society (ongoing member)
  • Ivors Academy (formerly BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters and Composers)) (ongoing member)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (from 2015)

Current research students


Recent and forthcoming events

12th December 2020 - 70th birthday concert webcast for the Hellenic Electroacoustic Music Composers Association (HELMCA) ‘Electroacoustic Music Days 2020’: ‘Memory Machine’, ‘Stringscape’, ‘Aeolian’ – with video introduction. 

16th May 2020 - BBC Radio 3 New Music Show. 70th birthday interview by Robert Worby, including extracts from ‘Ophelia’s Dream II’, ‘Piano Piece IV’, ‘Stringscape’. 

1st – 2nd May 2020 - BEAST FEaST 2020 (Birmingham) featured composer. Podcast interview and streamed performances: ‘Memory Machine’, ‘Aeolian’, ‘Wind Clouds Showers’. 

13th February 2020 - ‘Rediscoveries 13’, Burtchart Small Hall, Aberdeen University. Portrait concert: ‘Resonances’, ‘Piano Piece IV’, ‘Time Past IV’, ‘Piano Ring’, ‘Aeolian’. Plus Research Seminar presentation. 

11th February 2020 - 70th birthday concertCity University, London: ‘Wind Clouds Showers’ (premiere), ‘Piano Ring’, ‘Aeolian’.

12th – 24th October 2019 – ‘Solo Flute Quartet’ tour: Iklectik London; PACE Studio, De Montfort University; Victoria Rooms, Bristol University; Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queens University Belfast.

5th – 6th December 2018 – ‘Piano Ring’ (premieres). Pace 1, De Montfort University and Talbot House, Bournemouth University.

10th October 2018 - Featured composer Greenwich University Loudspeaker Orchestra, St Alfege Church: ‘Memory Machine’, ‘Resonances’, ‘Aeolian’, ‘Solo Flute Quartet’.

26th – 29th September 2018 - Visiones Sonoras, International Festival of Music and New Technology, Morelia, Mexico. Composer’s workshop, invited presentation and performance: ‘Aeolian’.

20th February 2018 - ‘Memory Machine’, City University Portrait Concert: ‘Spirit of ’76’, ‘Microvariations II’, ‘Memory Machine’, ‘Solo Flute Quartet’.

7th February 2018 - Philharmonia concert with Irvine Arditti (violin), The Gallery, De Montfort University: ‘Stringscape’.

Conference presentations

‘Composing for flutes and electronics - Solo Flute Quartet’ (Keynote address) and webcast performance, Midlands New Music Symposium (NottFAR 2020), December 2020.

 ‘Live electronics: from expressive aim to musical act’ (Keynote address) and performances, Bowed Electrons 2019 (Festival and Symposium), Cape Town, Pretoria, Witwatersrand Universities, August 2019.

‘Elites and minorities (in the age of the ubiquitous loudspeaker)’ (Keynote address) and performance, NoiseFloor 2019, Staffordshire University), May 2019.

‘‘It was forty years ago today’- Some reflections on the foundation of EMAS and its subsequent development’ (Keynote address) and performance,BEAN weekend Greenwich, January 2019.

 ‘Instrumentality, perception and listening in crossadaptive performance’, (Marije Baalman, Simon Emmerson, Øyvind Brandtsegg), ICLI 2018 - International Conference on Live Interfaces (Porto), June 2018.

‘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.

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, Journal of Artistic Research

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.

Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis (Co-editor (with Leigh Landy) and contributor) (CUP, 2016) – first (hardback) edition sold out, reprinted including paperback.

Simon Emmerson at De Montfort University



Living Electronic Music - Simon Emmerson