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Music at Ulster is a vibrant community of practitioner-researchers, with interests in key areas of contemporary practice including composition, music technology, participatory/applied music, and improvisation and performance and soundtrack research.

We collaborate with other researchers in drama, film and heritage, and across the interdisciplinary topics of Applied Arts, Arts Practices/Practice-as-Research and Creative Industries and Technologies.

Our REF2021 Impact Case Study project, Inclusive Creativity, was ranked joint first in the UK, focusing on participatory practices in music composition and technology. .

We are active in supporting the creative industries. Ulster University is a partner of the Future Screens NI £13 million creative cluster that deliver expert technical skills, opportunity and growth across film and broadcast, animation, games and immersive technologies and industries in Northern Ireland.

We are also active in bringing contemporary music to new audiences, including the long-running Derry Sound Factory series and Rathmullan Music Project (co-founded by Dr Rob Casey with Northern Light Project).

Recent awards and recognition include Prof. Brian Irvine's shortlisting for the Olivier and Ivor Novello awards (2023).

Staff research interests

All staff are based at Magee (Derry~Londonderry) campus, except where indicated.

Dr Brian Bridges -  electronic/electroacoustic music composition, music/arts technology, sound studies

Dr Rob Casey - composition/improvisation/open form practices

Dr Adam Melvin - composition (incl. mixed-media installation practices), soundtrack studies/music and visual culture

Prof. Brian Irvine - composition (incl. mixed-media), socially-engaged practices

Dr Linley Hamilton - jazz- improvisation and composition

NB: Prof. Frank Lyons (Associate Dean for Research and Impact, Belfast campus) is also a member of the music team - composition, accessible arts-technology practices (Inclusive Creativity/Acoustronic projects) and music in the creative economy

Recent Publications and Creative Practice

  • Lyons, F. (2023). Zoom Time: Over and Out. (composition). Belfast International Arts Festival, Acoustronic with Ulster Orchestra and Performance without Borders, Oct 2023.
  • Bridges, B. (2023). Ramp Waves. Belfast International Arts Festival, Oct 2023.
  • Hamilton, L. (2023). Ginger's Hollow. (album, Whirlwind Recordings)
  • Melvin, A., and Bridges., B. (2021).  Mapping Space and Time in the Soundtrack: embodied cognition  and the soundtrack’s spatiotemporal contract.  In: Filimowicz, M (ed), Doing Research in Sound Design. Routledge.
  • Irvine, B. (2019)  Least Like The Other: Searching for Rosemary Kennedy. UK Premiere  Royal Opera House, London  (Irish National Opera), Jan 2023.
  • Casey, R. (2019) Aisteach: Jennifer Walshe, Heritage, and the Invention of the Irish Avant-Garde, Transposition: Musique et Sciences Sociales, Issue 8. Paris: CRAL.
  • Irvine, B. Various presentations including Kunstfest Weimar (Sept 2020); Irish National Opera (screen opera; autumn 2020): Find out more at
  • Casey, R. Composition. 'Moya’s Lament'. At ISSTA 2020 Sonic Practice Now. (online, August 2020).
  • Hamilton, L.P.: CD Album ‘For the Record’ - Linley Hamilton Quintet (TeddyD Records) 2020.
  • Melvin, A. 2018; 2018. 'Monument: Three Sisters' (installation for ultrasonic 'audio spotlight' speakers and standard speakers). Premiered at ISSTA 2016, Derry, Garden of Reflection Gallery; reprised Galerie Yoko Uhoda, Liège, Belgium, November 2018.
  • Lyons, F. 2017. 'Nonzerosum' (composition), supported by Calouste Gulbenkian and PRS Beyond Borders commission, as part of Inclusive Creativity project.
  • Roddy, S. & Bridges, B., Jun 2020,  Mapping for meaning: the embodied sonification listening model and its implications for the mapping problem in sonic information design. In : Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces. 14, 2, p. 143-151.

Recent, Impact and Partnerships

Our research in music is creating impact across borders, in UK, Ireland and European contexts through the Inclusive Creativity project and the Acoustronic ensemble, supported by Calouste Gulbenkian and working in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy of Music (funded by a Creative Ireland grant).

The unit also contributes to research and practitioner communities with its network of regional (within Northern Ireland), UK-Ireland, intra-UK links and European links, with recent examples including:

  • Oscillations and Modulations festival
  • Ubimus 2023 symposium
  • Cultúrlann uí Chanáinn, Derry, and Imbolc International Arts Festival
  • Royal Irish Academy of Music
  • Ulster Orchestra
  • Drake Music England
  • Walled City Music Festival
  • City of Derry International Choir Festival
  • Irish National Opera
  • Sharemusic Sweden
  • Some of our current research projects include:
  • Creators’ Earnings Project (funded by Ivors’ Academy, on behalf of the Musicians’ Union UK)
  • Future Screens NI (in partnership with Art and Design, Media, and others at Ulster)

Staff members are current or previous board members of ISSTA (the Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association), the Contemporary Music Centre, the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, Interference: a Journal of Audio Culture, and many other professional and academic bodies.

Recent PhDs

We are supporting the next generation of music researchers through our annual PhD Scholarship competition, funded by Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy and the University’s Vice-Chancellor's Research Scholarship, and recent PhD graduates creating impact within various areas of the field, nationally and internationally, include the following:

  • Paul O'Hagan, 2023,  Credit Where It's Due: Music, Copyright & Social Authorship
  • Darragh Morgan, 2023, (PhD by Published Work),  Unlocking the unconventional: investigating the multifaceted role of the contemporary violinist with new perspectives on style, collaboration and innovation
  • Lewis Smith, 2023,  WithFeel: Embodiment as a Framework for Accessible Music Composition, Performance, and Design in Virtual Reality
  • Lauren O'Neill, 2021 (Music and Irish), Harp Practice in Response to Gaelic Bardic Poetry; CEO: Harp Ireland
  • Scott Flanigan, 2021,  Mechanisms as Development Devices in Contemporary Jazz Piano: Generating Original Improvised Vocabulary Through Analysis of the Music of Aaron Parks and Brad Mehldau; jazz tutor/lecturer and founder of Scott's Jazz Club, Belfast
  • Aidan O’Donnell, 2020, South Tipperary Arts Officer/Music Generation Project
  • Gary Lutton, 2020, leading fingerstyle guitar exponent, Belfast, and winner of Sky Arts Guitar Star 2015
  • Clare Wilson, 2018, part-time lecturer Dublin City University
  • Denise White, 2018, Special Educational Needs practitioner and founder of Conductology
  • Mike Nielsen, 2017, Lecturer and Course Director for the MMus in Jazz, Technological University, Dublin
  • Simon Jermyn, 2016, leading NYC-based jazz/improvising musician
  • Sid Peacock, 2016, composer and postdoc researcher in jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire
  • John King, 2015, former lecturer at Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland, and now audio software R&D specialist, Belfast
  • Brendan McCloskey, 2014, winner of the Guthman prize for innovative accessible Digital Musical Instrument Design (Georgia Tech, 2016); technologist and part-time lecturer at Ulster and QUB
  • Anna Nolan, 2014, Development Manager, Echo Echo Dance Theatre (NI’s leading dance theatre company)
  • Linley Hamilton, 2014, Lecturer in Music Performance at Ulster
  • Rachel McDermott (McClure), 2013, Schools Partnership Coordinator at the Nerve Centre, Derry/Londonderry
  • Richard Graham, 2012, Technologist at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, and CEO at Delta Sound Labs, USA; formerly Assistant Prof. of Music and Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ
  • Mary Dullea, 2011, Director of Performance at Royal Holloway, University of London, and member of the Fidelio Trio
  • Christopher Norby, 2011, Instructor in Music at Arizona State University; recent composition credits include commission for Walled City Music Festival and Northern Ireland Opera
  • Paul McIntyre, 2010, jazz pianist and lecturer at Irish HEIs including Dundalk Institute of Technology and Dublin City University; previously postdoc at University of Sussex
  • David Lyttle, 2009, jazz drummer, MOBO and Urban Music Awards nominee
  • Neil Burns, 2009, composer and ensemble director, Inishowen Gospel Choir