Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Fully-Funded PhD Studentship

Published: 3 June 2013Origin: Music
University of Southampton

The Department of Music in collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton (UK), together with the London Sinfonietta, Sound Intermedia and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, announce a fully-funded collaborative PhD studentship, commencing 1 October 2013.

The studentship is for the project Hands-on Sound: tracking technologies in music for live electronics.

The project sets out to evaluate the application of optical motion tracking systems for controlling sound in live music performance through tracking hands, fingers and marked objects. This multi-disciplinary research will be based on three systems of control embodying state-of-the-art research, affordable consumer and low-cost bespoke technologies and will involve working with the HAWK (Hand And Wrist Kinematics) software platform developed at the University of Southampton for analysis of functional hand movements in the field of biomechanics.

The use of contemporary systems provides the opportunity to revitalise works of the past, and to transform the audience experience with more dynamic and expressive performance practice. For new works, a better understanding of the connection between performers' physical gestures and aural results has the potential to push forward compositional practice in this area and to engage new audiences. Through collaboration with leading contemporary music ensemble the London Sinfonietta and sound design partnership Sound Intermedia the studentship will provide an opportunity to work with organisations responsible for exciting and innovative performances both in the UK and internationally. The project will directly contribute to public performances at significant venues and has the potential to lead to future performances and compositions.

The research is concerned with comparing the technical capabilities of tracking systems, and with practical evaluation of such systems, in terms of translating the expressive intent of the performer on to sonic results, and how the audience can perceive such a connection. The project will therefore adopt a 360-degree approach to the study of these systems, encompassing composer, performer and audience within the research.

As a successful candidate for this award, you will:

  • spend the majority of your time at the University of Southampton, where you will research and write a dissertation leading to a PhD in music technology. The thesis will be accompanied by portfolio of documented software examples together with suitable audio-visual materials illustrating its use. The focus of the thesis will be on the comparative evaluation of the systems used, but will also detail work undertaken with the London Sinfonietta and Sound Intermedia in electronic performance.
  • spend about 5-6 months of your time working with the London Sinfonietta and Sound Intermedia, in their offices and at rehearsal and performance venues, contributing to professional performances involving live electronics, contributing to educational and outreach projects involving technology and consulting archive material regarding past performances relevant to the project.

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • a passionate interest in contemporary music and technology, and a strong desire to be involved in live performance. Experience with computer programming languages and/or audio-processing tools such as Max/MSP or Supercollider would be an advantage.
  • an excellent (upper second or first class) undergraduate degree either in music, music technology, or a computer science or engineering discipline with demonstrable musical experience; and a relevant masters degree (under certain circumstances, you may proceed directly from undergraduate to doctoral study if your qualifications and experience are appropriate).

The studentships will start on October 1, 2013 (PhD programme commences 26 Sept), although a delayed start date may be considered if circumstances require.

PROJECT SUPERVISORS: Dr Richard Polfreman ( in Music - to whom any inquiries in advance of application should be addressed – and Dr Cheryl Metcalf in Health Sciences.

TO APPLY: send a covering letter (explaining your interest in the project and how you fit the criteria above) and a CV that includes the names of two referees to Dr Laurie Stras, Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, Department of Music, Buildlng 2, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ; telephone: +44 (0)23 8059 2858; email Please also arrange for the two letters of reference to be sent to the same address to arrive by the closing date. Samples of written work and software, performance or composition materials demonstrating engagement with technology may be requested from shortlisted candidates immediately after the closing date.

THE AWARD: in the 2013-14 academic year, full-time awards provide a maintenance grant payment of £13,726, plus payment of standard tuition fees at the UKEU rate. The studentship is available to support three years' full-time work, subject to satisfactory progress, and can be taken on either a full-time or a part-time basis.

In addition, you will receive a CDA maintenance payment from the AHRC to help towards costs of working at both the University and the London Sinfonietta (currently £600), and a £1000 stipend p/a from the London Sinfonietta.

CLOSING DATE: 3 July, 2013

INTERVIEWS: 24 July, 2013;

ELIGIBILITY: A full award covers both the cost of tuition fees at the UKEU rate and a maintenance grant. Full award residency rules require that you have been resident in the UK for at least three years immediately prior to starting the proposed programme of study, this includes being resident for the purposes of study. A fees-only award provides payment of tuition fees at the UKEU rate, but not a maintenance grant. Fees-only award residency rules require that you have been resident in the EU for the three years immediately prior to commencing. Fees-only award holders will also be eligible to receive the £1000 p/a stipend from the London Sinfonietta.

All award holders will be eligible for additional funding of expenses for research travel and conference attendance, and for the full range of training offered by the University of Southampton.

Related Staff Member

Related Staff Member

Privacy Settings