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Mr. James  Oldham BMus, MMus

Postgraduate research student

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James Oldham is a postgraduate researcher of music at the University of Southampton, funded by SWW-DTP2, and composer and performer of new music theatre.

I completed my bachelors and masters in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire with Joe Cutler, Howard Skempton, and Andrew Hamilton. It was there that I started to explore ideas of humour in music. My research into comic timing in music is led by my interdisciplinary practice, combining composition, performance, directing and dramaturgy. The research is funded by SWW-DTP2, and I also receive supervision at Bath Spa University.

I am currently co-artistic director of Waste Paper Opera Company (visit, composer in residence with Stumble Trip Theatre, and curator of London Experimental Variety Show. I perform extensively with Waste Paper Opera, as well as Object Collection and Joe Lycett, and trained in clowning with SpyMonkey. In October 2019, I facilitated and taught the week-long intensive theatre course ‘Rethinking the Total Work of Art’ for students at Central Saint Martins as part OurHaus Festival.

I have written and produced six operas with Waste Paper Opera. Most notably ‘i’ - The Opera, which received performances at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival, Glasgow International 2018, and Wandsworth Arts Fringe. ‘i’ was co-written by an artificial neural network trained by Janelle Shane of UoC, San Diego.

Research interests

Comic timing in music

PhD working title: “Towards a terminology for the practice of comic timing in contemporary composition: A practical engagement with humour in music across borders of genre and performance context”

Supervisor: Matthew Shlomowitz

and James Saunders (Bath Spa)

Funding: SWW-DTP2 (AHRC)

Research group

Composition and Music Technology

  • Artistic director of Waste Paper Opera Company
  • Member/contributor of L(AI)bour think tank at Limehouse Town Hall
Mr. James Oldham
Music Department
Building 2
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

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