Ed Cooper (Photo credit Claire Tuton)

Ed Cooper

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am a composer and artist. I completed a BA Music (International) at the University of Leeds before my Master’s. I have since continued my studies here and am now in the first year of my practice-led PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, through the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).


What made you want to apply to your MA course and to Leeds?

Having completed my undergraduate here, I wanted to be able to hit the ground running and get myself into the best position to apply for PhDs in the following year. Knowing and trusting the staff—both academic, pastoral, and administrative—was crucial to my decision.


What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I love thinking about what music could be. What could it do? How could it sound (or not)? There are so many interesting and admirable people in the new music community that keep fuelling my thirst for knowledge.


What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

Although my year was massively disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, I still really enjoyed completing my portfolio of compositions and the Aesthetic Theory module. Both gave me space to explore areas that I was unfamiliar and interested in.


What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

I can’t fault the libraries. On the rare occasion that they didn’t have a book that I needed, I filled out a request and they provided an e-copy. Although my practice usually concerns instrumentalists, the School of Music had ample facilities for any electroacoustic or production work that I needed to carry out.


Did you work closely with a particular tutor or member or the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience. 

In preparing my PhD application, I was in regular correspondence with Scott McLaughlin and Martin Iddon, although neither of them officially taught me composition. I also worked closely with Emily Payne in preparing my short dissertation for publication.


What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

Throughout my undergraduate at Leeds, I was an active member of the Leeds University Union Music Society (LUUMS), co-founding the Composers Ensemble (now Composers Collective), of which I was a member as a postgraduate student. I also sing tenor in The Clothworkers Consort of Leeds.


What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?

I have just started a PhD in Composition still at Leeds with Scott McLaughlin and Martin Iddon. Without doubt, the compositional skills of craft, experiment, and communication developed throughout my Master’s were key to achieving this.


What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

It’s important to have a really good idea of what you want to get out of the experience. I had a really informative time, despite (even due to) the disruptions caused by COVID-19, because I knew my teachers well and had the clear ambition to progress onto a PhD. Leeds can be absolutely fantastic and is right for me: just make sure it’s right for you too and have as clear of an idea as possible of what you’d like to get out of it.