School of Arts and Cultures

Staff Profiles

Professor David Clarke

Professor of Music



As well as holding the established Chair of Music, David Clarke has acted as Director of the CETL (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) for Music and Inclusivity. Operational between 2005 and 2010, this was a major partnership between the Universities for the North East and The Sage Gateshead, led by Newcastle University (see, and funded to the value of over £4.5M by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.


David Clarke, Professor of Music, joined the Music Department in 1991, having previously lectured at Dartington College of Arts and the University of Liverpool. His interests include the composer Michael Tippett, on whom he has published various books and articles, as well as musical aesthetics, critical and cutlural theory, and music analysis, and North Indian (Hindustani) classical music. As conductor, violinist, and vocalist in the North Indian khyāl tradition, he also remains active as a musical practitioner. He is a graduate of Royal Holloway College (University of London), read for his PhD under Jim Samson at Exeter University, and also studied as an exchange student at the University of Massachusetts and the Free University, Berlin.


Research Interests

David Clarke is a music theorist in the broadest sense, interested in analytical, philosophical, critical, cultural, psychological, linguistic and semiotic applications to questions of musical meaning – concerns variously reflected in his published articles and reviews. Feeding into this latter project are critical inquiries into cultural relativism and cultural pluralism e.g. ‘Eminem: difficult dialogics’, 'Elvis and Darmstadt', and an article on BBC Radio 3's late Junction.

This broader concern with music and meaning extends into music and philosophy. An important research strand here is Music and Consciousness. David Clarke curated and co-edited with Eric Clarke (Oxford University) the book Music and Consciousness, with chapters from 20 contributors across a range of disciplines. David's own contributions to the volume include a solo authored chapter on music and time consciousness, and a jointly authored chapter with Tara Kini (Bangalore) on consciousness in the style of Indian classical music known as Dhrupad. He also gave a keynote presentation, entitled  ‘Music and Consciousness – High and Low (Or, consciousness and Being: singing along with Tippett, Peggy Lee and Heidegger)’, at the Fifth International Conference on Consciousness, Theatre, Literature, and the Arts, University of Lincoln, June 2013. Further work in the field of consciousness follows, with a chapter for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, as well as a sequel volume on music and consciousness

David's developing interest in the practice, theory and cultural place of North Indian classical music has led him into ethnographic work relating to South Asian musical practices in the North East, conducted jointly with Thomas Hodgson (Oxford University, now King's College London), with further input from Monica Moreno-Figueroa (Newcastle Unversity). This scoping study and review, which also reflects the authors' concerns around music and multiculturalism, was entitled 'Musics of South Asia: a means for connecting communities?', and was completed in November 2012. It was funded by the AHRC as part of its Connected Communities scheme (for a list of ouputs go to Other ethnomusicologically related work includes a response to Patrick Savage and Steven Brown's article 'Toward a new comparative musicology', commissioned by the journal Analytical Approaches to World Music.

Further work on Indian classical music can be found in David's article, ' Different resistances: a comparative view of Indian and Western classical music in the modern era', which appears an a special issue of Contemporary Music Review, entitled 'Resistant Materials'. And most recently he has published a major theoretical article in Music Theory Online entitled 'North Indian classical music and Lerdahl and Jackendoff's generative theory - a mutual regard', piloted in several pervious invited conference and seminar presentations.

David also continues to write on 20th century music, including an article for Music Theory and Analysis entitled, 'Musical indeterminacy and its implications for music analysis: the case of Cage’s Solo for Piano’, and a discussion forum 'Defining twenieth- and twenty-first-century music' for the journal Twentieh-Century Music.

David Clarke is also an authority on the music of Michael Tippett. His book, The Music and Thought of Michael Tippett: Modern Times and Metaphysics, (Cambridge University Press), seeks to show how the ‘world vision’ embodied in the composer’s music and writings relate to the wider concerns of western modernity and to a metaphysics that remains doggedly present within it. He has recently published a substantial account of the slow movement of Tippett's Concerto Orchestra, which also addresses issues raised by hermeneutic tendencies within the so-called New Musicology; this article can be found in the journal Music Analysis and is entitled, 'Between heremeneutics and formalism: the Lento from Tippett's Concerto for Orchestra (or: music analysis after Lawrence Kramer')'.  Other books on Tippett include Language, Form, and Structure in the Music of Michael Tippett, one of the most detailed and extended analytical studies of Tippett’s music available, and Tippett Studies, which he edited and to which he contributed (many of the essays in this volume were originally presented at the 1995 International Tippett Conference hosted by Newcastle University Music Department).

Current Work

... includes:

  • Music and Consicousness 2 - co-edited book (sequel to 2011 volume) with Eric Clarke and Ruth Herbert, including solo authored chapter exploring phenomenological perspectives on the Sibelius Violin Concerto.
  • Book chapter, 'Consciousness', for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, ed. Tomas McAuley, Jerrold Levinson and Nanette Nielsen.
  •  Developing a website, 'Rāgas Online'.

Future Research

... includes:

  • an autoethnographic exploration of the experience of learning in the khyal vocal tradition of North Indian classical music.
Postgraduate Supervision

David has supervised postgraduate students across a range of areas, including music analysis, music aesthetics and philsophy, music and cultural theory.

Esteem Indicators

David was awarded a visiting research fellowship at the Centre for Research in the Arts Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge in 2012, as part of their programme 'The Future University'.

David is a member of the editorial board of the journal *twentieth-century music* and of the editorial collective of *Radical Musicology*; he is also on the Advisory Board of *Music Analysis*, having also served on that journal's editorial board for several years. He has acted as a reviewer for CUP, OUP and other academic presses, and as an external adviser for Liverpool University. He is also in demand as an external examiner.


Undergraduate Teaching

David is module leader for Indian Music in Practice, and Opera: History, Issues, Approaches. He also contributes to the modules Practising Music Analysis and Understanding Music History, as well as supervising dissertations and projects. He has been a driving force in bringing the study of Indian classical music into the curriculum, through the World Music project of our CETL for Music and Inclusivity (see

Postgraduate Teaching / Managent / Leadership

Head of Postgraduate Studies for Music.

Module leader for Indian Music for Postgraduates, plus supervisor of several research students reading for PhD and MPhil degrees.