We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.



New blog from Music & Science Lab: Now That’s What I Call Chills!

Of all the emotional experiences possible whilst listening to music, one that particularly stands out is ‘chills’ (sometimes called thrills, or frisson), which describes an emotional response coupled with one or all of shivers, gooseflesh or tingling sensations.

What are the most frequently named pieces of music that induce chills in listeners? A new blog post by PhD student Scott Bannister reveals this and other interesting first results on the topic.

Read the blog here.

(27 Mar 2017)

Durham representatives at International Musicological Society congress in Tokyo

Dr Fabio Morabito and Dr Patrick Zuk will both be participating in the society’s 20th Quinquennial Congress, to be held at Tokyo University of the Arts, 19-23 March 2017.

Dr Morabito will present recent work entitled ‘Replacing Haydn: Luigi Cherubini’s “Affair Esterházy,” 1810-1811’ as part of the panel on ‘Haydn and Beethoven: In and Out of Context’.

Dr Zuk will participate in an IMS study group session on ‘Shostakovich and His Epoch’, as well as chairing a roundtable with the topic ‘Constructing the “East-West” Divide in Russian/Soviet Musicology’.

The International Musicological Society seeks to ad­vance­ musicological research on the basis of international cooperation. This is its first congress to take place in Asia.

(18 Mar 2017) » More about Durham representatives at International Musicological Society congress in Tokyo

Prof David Greer wins award for significant contribution in music bibliography

The C.B. Oldman prize is an annual award for an outstanding work of music bibliography, music reference or music librarianship. It is awarded by The UK & Ireland Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres. The organisation promotes music libraries and information throughout the territories.

The winning publication is Manuscript Inscriptions in Early English Printed Music, which was published by Ashgate in 2015. It examines the hand-written entries made in music books in the 16th and 17th centuries, highlighting the history of their ownership and revealing the various uses to which these books were put. 

David Greer is Emeritus Professor of Music, having taught in the department from 1986 to 2001.

(11 Mar 2017)

Dr Katherine Hambridge introduces music of Napoleon's reign at Bowes Museum

On 4 March 2017 Durham musicologist Dr Katherine Hambridge will be introducing visitors to the Bowes Museum to the music of Napoleon’s reign. Together with pianist Mark Austin and singers Oskar McCarthy and Héloïse Werner, Dr Hambridge will ask what the art-form meant for Napoleon and those living under his rule, exploring how music served to project—or undercut—the allure of the Napoleonic regime: from the elegance of the salons and the sumptuous spectacle of the opera, to the relentless, irreverent satire of the boulevard theatres and the enthusiasm and violence of popular song. The concert is at 3.30pm in the gallery. Admission is free with museum entrance.

(2 Mar 2017) » More about Dr Katherine Hambridge introduces music of Napoleon's reign at Bowes Museum

Dr Lara Pearson wins music education and psychology award

The Aubrey Hickman Award is offered biennially by SEMPRE (Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research) to promote original work from new researchers in the field. It is given in recognition of a paper that offers a significant and previously unpublished contribution to the knowledge and understanding of music education and/or music psychology.

Lara Pearson's winning paper is entitled 'Gesture in Karnatak vocal lessons: Cross domain mapping and gestural indexing', and will be presented at the SEMPRE International Conference on Musical Cultures at the University of Hull, 3-5 April 2017.

Dr Pearson completed her doctorate on Karnatak (South Indian) music and gesture in 2016, with research examining musical structure and pedagogic process from an embodied perspective, looking in particular at physical gesture in the contexts of musical performance and learning.

(1 Mar 2017) » More about Dr Lara Pearson wins music education and psychology award

Music, Media and Technologies RMA Study Day - deadline approaching

Saturday 20 May 2017, Durham University

Royal Musical Association Study Day

Keynote speaker: Frederick Moehn (King's College London)

How do media and technology shape music-making, music experience, and music meaning? What contemporary and historical developments in these fields influence how music (of any kind) can be understood? How has music played a role in shaping wider media and technology environments?

This study day aims to attract scholars from across music’s sub-disciplines interested in analysing the significance of media and technologies in the production, dissemination and experience of music.

The deadline to submit abstracts is Friday 3 March 2017.

Please see the full call for papers or email Samuel Horlor at

(27 Feb 2017)

Geography, Music, Space - videos available online

Last month, Durham University hosted a one-day conference with the support of the Institute of Musical Research entitled ‘Geography, Music, Space’.

We are pleased to present a selection of videos from the event:

Please direct enquiries to Samuel Horlor at

(24 Feb 2017)

Pianists Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas to perform John Cage’s Two2 in special concert

Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7:00pm

Music Department, Palace Green

One of John Cage’s late extended works, Two2 was inspired by a statement by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina: “There is an inner clock.” Two2  is a piece of open duration. The concert is therefore of indeterminate length, and may last up to 2½ hours.

(23 Feb 2017) » More about Pianists Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas to perform John Cage’s Two2 in special concert

Weekend of contemporary music concerts in MUSICON series

This weekend is MUSICON's contemporary music focus event, and the performances are based on the concept of SCALE. The three evening concerts on Friday 24th, Saturday 25th, and Sunday 26th February will contain a series of refreshingly short pieces, and three of the great, large-scale 20th century classics:

• On the Friday renowned mezzo Lore Lixenberg will perform Feldman's mesmerising "Three Voices" (in the Music Department).
• On the Saturday, Forum Neue Vokalmusik will be visiting from Germany to perform Stockhausen's rarely heard but oft cited masterpiece "Stimmung" (in the town Hall).
• On Sunday the Ives Ensemble will be treating us to another Feldman classic, "Piano and String Quartet" (in the Music Department).

(23 Feb 2017) » More about Weekend of contemporary music concerts in MUSICON series

Report: Church music conference organised by PhD student Enya Doyle

The Inaugural Conference on Church Music was held at the University of York over three days in mid-February. Speakers and delegates came from as far as the USA and Australia for the conference hosted jointly by the University of York and York Minster, which explored all aspects of the past, present and future of Church music. The York Conference On Church Music was the handiwork of Enya Doyle, a first year PhD student in the Music Department. She co-organised it with members of the Department of Music at the University of York and York Minster.

(20 Feb 2017) » More about Report: Church music conference organised by PhD student Enya Doyle

Open Workshop on Interpersonal Entrainment in Music Performance

Open Workshop, Durham University, Thursday 9th March 2017
Call for Participants

We invite expressions of interest from researchers wishing to participate in a workshop on musical entrainment. The workshop is linked to the AHRC-funded project ‘Interpersonal Entrainment in Music Performance’ (investigators Martin Clayton, Tuomas Eerola, Peter Keller and Antonio Camurri). Researchers involved in the project, which brings together research groups at Durham, Western Sydney and Genoa universities, will lead the workshop.

(26 Jan 2017) » More about Open Workshop on Interpersonal Entrainment in Music Performance

Programme announced for Music Britain, and the First World War CNCS conference

The Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University is pleased announce the programme for the one-day conference ‘A “Great Divide” or a Longer Nineteenth Century: Music, Britain, and the First World War’ to be held on Saturday, 21 January 2017 at St John’s College, Durham University.

The full programme can be found on the conference website, along with registration and travel details.

(16 Jan 2017)

World première 'Amérique du Nord' by Richard Rijnvos

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, will première Richard Rijnvos's newly commissioned work Amérique du Nord on 2 and 3 February 2017 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

The work forms the second part of Grand Atlas, subtitled "représentation du monde universel en sept tableaux musicaux", a cycle in which each of the seven world continents is depicted in an orchestral composition.

(16 Jan 2017) » More about World première 'Amérique du Nord' by Richard Rijnvos

Acclaimed Northumbrian pipes performer Kathryn Tickell to receive honorary degree

Honorary Master of Music, Thursday 12 January at 3:00 pm

Kathryn Tickell OBE is an acclaimed performer of the Northumbrian pipes, as well as a renowned folk musician, composer and recording artist. Her work is rooted in the North East of England, inspired by its places and people.She released her first album at 16 and has since recorded 14 more; she has performed on the BBC proms and collaborated with Sting on a number of projects including his music theatre show The Last Ship.

(11 Jan 2017) » More about Acclaimed Northumbrian pipes performer Kathryn Tickell to receive honorary degree

World première 'Riflesso sull'arco' by Richard Rijnvos

The Netherlands-based Ives Ensemble will première Richard Rijnvos's new work Riflesso sull'arco on 12 January 2017 in Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam. A repeat performance will take place the next day in Korzo, The Hague.

The work is part of a series of companion pieces, started in 2007 with Riflesso sul tasto, followed by Riflesso sull'acqua. Each Riflesso explores the same exceptional scoring of an existing "classic" by a composer from the past. Riflesso sull'arco is a companion piece to Swinging Music (1970) by the Polish composer Kazimierz Serocki. It is scored for bass clarinet, trombone, cello and piano.

(9 Jan 2017) » More about World première 'Riflesso sull'arco' by Richard Rijnvos

Performances of works by Dr Eric Egan across Europe, 'stille' premièred in Olso

Dr Egan's "stille" for brass quintet, commissioned by the ensemble NyNorsk Messingkvintett, was premiered at the National Library in Oslo on 23 November 2016. The piece, which is inspired by the works of Norwegian modernist writer Sigbjørn Obstfelder, was also performed at the Kapittel festival in Stavanger on 2 December.

Fragments 1, 2, and 3 of Dr Egan's cycle "Interplay of Bones" for trombone and percussion were performed by the Winston/Pacheco duo at Flatterschafft in Basel on 4 December. The performance, which was repeated in Vienna on 9 December, included the world premiere of the third fragment of the cycle, which is based on extracts from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake".

(11 Dec 2016)

Dr Patrick Zuk to give public lectures in Zurich

Dr Patrick Zuk has been invited to give two public lectures in May 2017 at the International School of Analytical Psychology in Zurich, a leading training centre for Jungian analysts.

The lectures will explore aspects of his current research project on the influence of traumatic experience on the emergence and development of musical modernism, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

(5 Dec 2016)

Recent editions and recordings from Prof Jeremy Dibble

Professor Dibble has been involved in numerous recent projects to make significant works available in printed edition and on CD recording, often for the first time.

These projects draw up Prof Dibble's research in British and Irish music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an area which includes not only composer studies, but also musical criticism and aesthetics, church music, hymnology, song, light music, opera and instrumental music.

(27 Nov 2016) » More about Recent editions and recordings from Prof Jeremy Dibble

Funding for Postgraduate Degrees in Music at Durham University

The Department of Music invites applications for postgraduate degrees starting in October 2017. Durham offers an excellent environment for music research: we were ranked in the top three music departments in REF 2014, and offer a range of specialist research facilities and collections. Details of areas of supervisory expertise, further details of funding schemes and other information can be found at

(18 Nov 2016) » More about Funding for Postgraduate Degrees in Music at Durham University

BBC History of Rhythm documentary features Durham entrainment research

BBC World Service radio has made a new documentary, ‘The History of Rhythm’, available for download as a podcast. The 50 minute programme is presented by the percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, and features a number of speakers including Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, Tony Palmer and Nitin Sawhney. Professor Martin Clayton of Durham University discusses interpersonal musical entrainment and its important role underpinning the emergence and development of rhythm.

Link directly to the podcast download page, and read more about entrainment and our current research, on the Music and Science website:

(16 Nov 2016)

Dr Simon Mills gives lecture series in South Korea

Dr Simon Mills is currently giving a series of special lectures to undergraduates, postgraduates and fellow academics in leading South Korean Universities, relating to his recent research into Korean shaman music.

In October, he gave lectures in the Academy of Korean Studies and Dankook University, and he will be giving a third lecture in Chonnam National University later in November.

(8 Nov 2016)

Dr Kelly Jakubowski leads 'earworms' study

Jakubowski, K., Finkel, S., Stewart, L., & Müllensiefen, D. (2016) 'Dissecting an Earworm: Melodic Features and Song Popularity Predict Involuntary Musical Imagery.' Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 

The study has shown that songs that get stuck in your head – called earworms or involuntary musical imagery – are usually faster, with a fairly generic and easy-to-remember melody but with some unique intervals such as leaps or repetitions that set it apart from the “average pop song”.

(7 Nov 2016) » More about Dr Kelly Jakubowski leads 'earworms' study

Khyal: Music and Imagination exhibition at Laing Gallery

Laing Gallery, Newcastle, NE1 8AG, 5-16 November 2016

Khyal: Music and Imagination is a multimedia exhibition that brings together visual artists and musicians to explore diverse visual responses to Indian classical music.

The exhibition features original artworks by Adinda van ’t Klooster, Mahjabin Imam Majumdar, and Theresa Poulton, which can be viewed while listening to the music that inspired them. Works by professional artists are displayed alongside pieces by school children from the north east of England, who were invited to respond to the same music.

(2 Nov 2016) » More about Khyal: Music and Imagination exhibition at Laing Gallery

New 'Music Analysis' publication from Dr Lara Pearson

Pearson, Lara (2016) 'Coarticulation and Gesture: an Analysis of Melodic Movement in South Indian Raga Performance', Music Analysis 35: 280–313.

The article presents an analysis of small-scale melodic movement in South Indian rāga performance employing the concept of coarticulation, defined here as the tendency for the performance of a unit to be influenced by that which precedes or follows it. 

(1 Nov 2016) » More about New 'Music Analysis' publication from Dr Lara Pearson

Dr Fabio Morabito leads research colloquium at University of Nottingham

Dr Morabito explored Haydn's death and Luigi Cherubini's attempts to step into the composer's shoes, in a talk entitled 'Replacing Haydn: Luigi Cherubini’s “affair Esterházy”, 1810-1811'. Taking place on 25 October, the event formed part of Nottingham Music Department's research series.

Fabio recently joined the department at Durham as a Teaching Fellow. He is a musicologist and cultural historian working on the intellectual history of musical authorship in the nineteenth century.

His work engages with changing conceptions of authorship, the cult of eccentricity and the origins of celebrity, the commercialization of selfhood, definitions of intellectual property and copyright, and the pan-European public sphere.

(26 Oct 2016)

Award for 2nd-year student

Tristan Latchford has won The Nicolas Thorpe Composition Award, in association with Southwell Choral Society. Tristan is a second-year student in the Music Department, specialising in composition.

The competition invited composers under the age of 25 to submit choral works of up to twelve minutes in duration. Tristan’s winning piece is entitled De Profundis, and was written to be performed by Southwell Choral Society, a mixed-voice amateur ensemble with orchestral accompaniment.

It explores the harmonic capabilities of this ensemble, with a structure incorporating a twelve-part triple fugal exposition. The piece follows a new set of harmonic rules based solely on voice leading, enabling it to move smoothly from consonance to dissonance without difficulty, while drawing upon many influences, including baroque and renaissance forms. The adjudicators commented that De Profundis is “skilful, well thought out and fits the brief really well… It is well structured with good orchestral writing and variety of texture.”

Tristan receives £500 prize money, and the piece will be performed along with Mozart’s Requiem by Southwell Choral Society at a concert on 19 November 2016, at Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire.

Please see Southwell Choral Society’s website for full details.

(21 Oct 2016)

Music & Science Lab website

The Music & Science Lab comprises an interdisciplinary group of researchers with backgrounds in systematic and computational musicology, music psychology, and ethnomusicology. It employs a range of empirical methods to investigate questions related to the perception and cognition of music and its role in human interactions. It is also committed to collecting, annotating, and sharing collections of audiovisual music performance recordings to support cross-cultural scientific music research.

(12 Oct 2016) » More about Music & Science Lab website

New study by Prof Tuomas Eerola shows link between empathy and being moved by music

People differ in their emotional responses to sad music, and new research shows that the way people respond can be predicted from personality traits. While many people report feeling relaxed and peaceful after listening to instrumental sad music, only highly empathic people report being deeply moved by such music.

Familiar sad music has been known to produce strong experiences of pleasure due to autobiographical memories associated with the music, but that this is the first time strong positive emotions are demonstrated in the context of sad unfamiliar music.

The research, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, was funded by the Academy of Finland.

Open Access paper: 

(16 Sep 2016)

Durham ranked in top three departments in REF 2014

(19 Dec 2014) » More about Durham ranked in top three departments in REF 2014