Music, Composition, Interdisciplinarity: states of play

Oxford Brookes University, UK. Thursday 28th January 2016

We invite delegates to a one-day seminar at Oxford Brookes University hosted by Music Composition as Interdisciplinary Practice, a recently established research network of practitioners and academics funded by the AHRC.

Contemporary practices in music appear to be increasingly foregrounding interdisciplinary approaches either from individual artists or collaborators. Compositional activity in all its guises – sonic art, notation-based instrumental music, the myriad forms of electronic music, music in the theatre, dance, film and so on – presents a field of practice where disciplines can connect in various ways, sometimes overlapping, sometimes bridging divides, sometimes integrating. Work of this type interests established and emerging artists alike, from Michael Gordon’s recent City Symphonies to projects by collectives such as squib-box and London Topophobia. Such work gives rise to a number of questions: how are the composer and the act of composing redefined in this context; can interdisciplinary work be facilitated/led and, if so, how; what is the role of technology; is the notion of interdisciplinarity one that concerns artists who work outside the academy; what kinds of new interdisciplines are emerging?

The seminar will address these questions from different perspectives and through different activities: we will hear from leaders of arts organisations and academic units, artists and artist-researchers; activities will include panel discussions, a workshop and a keynote address. A plenary session will draw out emerging themes from the day but we are keen to involve delegates throughout in order to increase our awareness of the state of play amongst artists/musicians working between disciplines. Delegates will play a vital role in extending the size of the network and the breadth of practice and theory it is able to encompass.

Participants include composers Helen Chadwick and Eduardo Miranda, sound artists Cathy Lane and Paul Whitty, Susanna Eastburn (Chief Executive, Sound and Music), Vanessa Read (Executive Director, PRS for Music Foundation) and Rebecca Hoyle (Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton and former director of the interdisciplinary MILES programme at the University of Surrey). Music Composition as Interdisciplinary Practice is a collaboration between Surrey, York and Oxford Brookes universities and is run jointly by Tom Armstrong and Ambrose Field.

We invite practitioners (both freelance and working from universities), academics, arts administrators (particularly with small and medium sized organisations), promoters, curators, arts funders and educators. As the first event in the network’s schedule of activities the seminar can help shape its direction and generate exciting possibilities for future work.


09.30 registration

10.00 welcome by Tom Armstrong

10.15 panel session: leading/facilitating interdisciplinarity

11.45 workshop: vocal theatre techniques

13.15 lunch

14.15 panel session: interdisciplinary practices – states of play

15.00 keynote: Professor Cathy Lane (University of the Arts London, Director of CRISAP)

16.15 plenary session

There is no registration fee, lunch and refreshments will be provided. If you would like to attend please email Tom Armstrong (the principal investigator) at by Thursday 14th January together with your full name, area of activity/interest, institutional affiliation (if relevant) and any special dietary requirements.