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Research Areas


Durham has a strong history of both acoustic and electroacoustic composition, dating back more than half a century. We currently have five members of staff working in the field, covering a wide range of areas, from orchestral and chamber music to electroacoustic, algorithmic, and live electronic music. All our staff members are active composers, working closely with colleagues and performers both in and outside academia, at institutions and venues in the UK and across Europe, North and South America, and Asia.


Studying Performance at Durham University means studying in an environment that is both incredibly rich in history and at the same time very much forward-looking. Our staff have a number of strong research specialisms, working in areas as diverse as Renaissance performance practice, nineteenth-century piano performance, organ studies, contemporary music performance, and projects bringing together contemporary music and contemporary visual arts, working with other institutions and notable artists from all over the world.


Durham is one of the major centres for research in ethnomusicology in the UK. Geographically speaking, our staff publish mostly on Indian and Korean music, but also have expertise relating to Mediterranean, African, South American and South-east Asian music traditions. In terms of research topics, we publish on areas including music, ritual and religion; performance and its analysis; embodiment and rhythm; world music analysis; and the history and theory of ethnomusicology. Much of our work is interdisciplinary, overlapping the concerns of anthropology, religious studies, psychology and computing, and is largely developing within Durham Music & Science Lab.

Indian Music

Durham is a major centre for research in Indian music in the UK. Researchers work on aspects of North and South Indian classical music including gesture, interaction, and performance analysis. We also study other forms of music and dance including bhangra, British-Asian music and Western music in India.

Psychology of Music

Psychology of music is a recent addition to the interdisciplinary research palette of the Department and is developing within the Durham Music & Science Lab. It seeks to understand how music influences listeners and performers in everyday and performance contexts, and the underlying mechanisms involved in processing, creating and enjoying music. The field is an inherently empirical and interdisciplinary research area. Expertise in the Department includes how music influences emotions (Tuomas Eerola), performers’ entrainment (Martin Clayton), large-scale analyses of music using computational models to emulate the ways listeners process music (Nick Collins, Dr Saari, Tuomas Eerola), and how music and evolution are assumed to be linked (Bennett Zon).

Historical Musicology

The Music Department has a distinguished tradition of musicological scholarship stretching back over a century. Former staff members have included several pioneers in the study of early music (Jack Westrup, Alec Harman, Jerome Roche, David Greer), Arthur Hutchings, the author of a seminal study of the Mozart piano concerti, and Peter Evans, a leading authority on the music of Benjamin Britten. Today it plays host to a productive variety of musicological sub-disciplines and approaches, from the cultural-historical to the analytical, from theatre studies to trauma studies, and our scholars work in collaboration with colleagues across the Arts and Humanities Faculty. We have a particular concentration of expertise relating to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on music and musical life in the German-speaking world, France (Katherine Hambridge), Russia and the former Soviet Union (Patrick Zuk), and Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Empire (Jeremy Dibble, Bennet Zon, Erin Johnson-Williams).

Music Theory and Analysis

The Department has a strong profile in theory and analysis. We count Julian Horton, the current President of the Society for Music Analysis, on our staff; other staff engaged with theory and analysis include Martin Clayton, Laura Leante and Patrick Zuk. Durham has a long history of supporting analysis. The Department hosted both the first and second SMA analysis summer schools and several members of staff have served on the Board of the journal Music Analysis.