Research areas

Research in Music at Bristol encompasses composition, musicology and performance. We recognise these fields as being of equal importance, and staff research often falls within more than one area. Our key fields of research include the following:

  • Composition, both acoustic and studio;
  • Music and society (music and cultural transfer; transnationality and colonialism; reception studies; music and totalitarianism);
  • Music and intermediality (popular music, especially hip hop; opera studies; film music; medieval music, text, visual and material cultures);
  • Music as performance (historical performance practice; medieval oral transmission);
  • British Music.


Here is a selection of current and recent funded projects led by our academics:



Michael Ellison explores the interaction of Western and Middle Eastern musical cultures (especially Turkish) through ensemble and orchestral music, and opera.

Neal Farwell works in a range of media, including acoustic ensemble, tape, live electronics and installation.

John Pickard specialises in orchestral, instrumental and choral music. General Editor of the Elgar complete Edition, he is also Director of CHOMBEC.

Our studio work is supported by Jonathan Scott.

Musicology and Performance 

In roughly chronological order, from chant to hip hop:

Emma Hornby is a chant scholar working with manuscripts from the 10th to the 13th centuries; her prime interests are in oral transmission and performance practice. She currently directs an European Research Council project on Old Hispanic Chant.

Stephen Rice specialises in the history, editing and performance of the vocal music of 16th-century France and Spain. He is director of the award-winning Brabant Ensemble.

Katharine Ellis researches music and musical life in 19th-century France, especially the ways socio-political influences frame musical activity and listener experience.

Kate Guthrie studies the social, political and cultural history of music in mid-twentieth-century Britain.

Guido Heldt works in two major fields: music in film and television, and English music in the first half of the 20th century.

Florian Scheding specialises in music and migration, especially the displacement of European musics and musicians caused by the political upheavals of the 20th century.

Pauline Fairclough works on music and politics, especially Soviet musical culture.

Justin Williams specialises in popular music studies, in particular, hip hop and jazz.

Collaborations and activities

Bristol is home to CHOMBEC (Centre for the History of Music in Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth). In addition, we direct major publicly-funded projects, run research networks and curate open-access research resources for the benefit of all.

Research events

We run a regular research seminar series and are frequently involved with one-off research events.

Research in the faculty

Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts.

Research quality

100 per cent of our work in the Department of Music is considered to be of international quality, with 74 per cent rated either 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent', according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

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