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Music Research

Our rich research environment is informed by our open approach to a diverse range of music.


In REF2021 84% of research in Music at Newcastle was classified as ‘world leading’ (51%) or ‘internationally excellent’ (33%).

The results showed a particular strength in several areas, including Public Policy and Early Music, which featured in our two Impact Case Studies. Since 2014 our research power has increased by 49%.

Music research underpins the work of our staff, postgraduate, and undergraduate students. Our rich research environment is informed by our inclusive approach to a diverse musical tradition.

We are a leading UK music department for research with particular strengths in creative practice, cultural and critical musicology, early music, ethnomusicology and global musics, and vernacular and folk traditions.

Music Research


The increase in both the quality and intensity of our research has been achieved through the collective excellence of our researchers and in collaboration with our students and our external partners. The richness of our music research culture and music projects comes from our openness to all forms of music and many ways of approaching it. Our research takes effect through many forms, including:

  • books and journal articles
  • compositions
  • performances and improvisations
  • exhibitions and installations
  • conference presentations
  • public, industry and policy engagement

Our research environment is enhanced by seminars, conferences, special events, and by distinguished visitors such as Philip Bohlman, Tricia Rose, Valentina Sandu-Dediu, Kate van Orden, and many others. We thank the Newcastle University Research Committee for funding the visit of Professor John Milsom in 2015, and we are grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for sponsoring Dr Kerry McCarthy's visiting professorship in 2017 and our current Leverhulme Fellow from 2019, Dr Lawrence Davies. We are also delighted to welcome Dr Kathryn Roberts-Parker as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in spring 2021, funded by the European Commission.

Music Research Projects and Categories

For information regarding the specific themes currently studied within the three broad disciplines, refer to the list below.

Detailed research themes
  • Caribbean and African musics (de Jong)
  • Composition (Mackay, Edmondes, Begg, Hogg, Macdonald, Rezaei)
  • Analysis (Tarrant, Fleet)
  • Early music (Gibson, Williamson, Zazzo)
  • Gender and sexuality (Attinello, Biddle, Gibson, de Jong, Zazzo)
  • Improvisation, grooves and beats (Edmondes, Hogg, Rezaei)
  • Indian music (Clarke)
  • Jazz (Edmondes, Elliott, de Jong, Plastino)
  • Jewish Music (Biddle)
  • Mediterranean music (Plastino, Biddle, Elliott)
  • Migration, space mobility, space & place, landscape, environment (Biddle, Mackay, Hogg, de Jong)
  • Music and Consciousness (Clarke)
  • Music Heritage (Macdonald, Ord, Williamson)
  • Music of the Northeast of England, Borders, Scotland and Shetland (Gibson, Macdonald, Kerr)
  • Music and the Holocaust (Biddle)
  • Music and Technology (Edmondes, Mackay, Begg, Hogg, Rezaei)
  • Musical materials and sources (Fleet, Gibson, Williamson, Zazzo)
  • Performance of classical, contemporary and early music (Williamson, Zazzo, Bentley, Tarrant)
  • Performance of folk and traditional music (Macdonald, Kerr)
  • Phonography and sound studies (Biddle, Elliott)
  • Politics, policy, social impact (Behr)
  • Popular music studies (Behr, Edmondes, Elliott, de Jong, Plastino)
  • The voice (Attinello, Biddle, Elliott, Zazzo, Bentley, Kerr)
  • Urban musicology (Behr, Biddle, Elliott, de Jong)

For further information please see our music staff profiles.

Vibrant research environment

Newcastle's distinctiveness stems in part from the plurality of traditions that we teach and research: contemporary, world, popular, folk, classical, and early musics. Approaches to research based on critical and cultural musicology as well as creative practice (composition, improvisation and performance) are paramount, and often blend in a research culture that also has a strongly interdisciplinary complexion (encompassing, for example, new historicism, philosophy, psychology, sociology, ritual studies, film and media studies, visual and sonic art). This rich research environment also colours our pursuit of analytical, historiographical, ethnographic and music-editorial methodologies.

The vitality of our research environment stems from the diversity of our research projects (often supported by UK Research Council grants or internal awards); from collaborative as well as lone-scholar research; from regular events and seminars presented under the umbrella of our research forum; and from a culture enlivened by the presence of some 50 postgraduate research students who often collaborate with staff.

As part of our wider social role, we believe in sharing our research widely and freely; you can see (and download) some of the fruits of our research by visiting ICMuS Commons, Newcastle University’s e-prints service and the websites of individual staff and postgraduate researchers. ICMuS also hosts the journal Radical Musicology.

Our facilities include a substantial collection of musical instruments, and a set of state-of-the-art Music Studios located in a purpose-built £4.5M building, which is linked to Newcastle University Culture Lab – an interdisciplinary centre for digital practice-based research, which includes International Centre for Music Studies researchers among its collaborators.

Research Excellence Framework

In REF 2021 84% of research in Music at Newcastle was classified as ‘world leading’ (51%) or ‘internationally excellent’ (33%). The results showed a particular strength in several areas, including Public Policy and Early Music, which featured in our two Impact Case Studies. Since 2014 our research power has increased by 49%.

Find out more about our research ranking and impact