Toby Huelin

Profile

I am a PhD researcher in the School of Music, specialising in music for audio-visual media. My thesis investigates library music (also known as “stock” or “production” music) and its use in contemporary television. The intention of my doctoral project is to illuminate the process of composition, placement and reception of library music as an integral part of the television industry. My research is informed and motivated by both my professional practice as a media composer and my work in television development and production. My PhD is fully-funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH).

My forthcoming research publications include peer-reviewed journal articles on library music in travel television (Music and the Moving Image, 2022), representations of Donald Trump in library music catalogues (European Journal of American Culture, 2022, co-authored with Júlia Durand), and classical music programming on BBC Four (Critical Studies in Television, 2022), in addition to book chapters on music in Australian streaming media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), library music in true crime television (Routledge, 2023), and on-screen depictions of Disney’s film-music production processes (Bloombury, 2023, co-authored with Ian Sapiro). I have presented my research at international conferences including Music and the Moving Image (New York University), Song, Stage and Screen (University of Salzburg) and Hidden Figures of Screen Music and Sound (University of London), and have been invited to give guest lectures/interviews about my research at the University of Ottawa and the University of Leeds. 

I am also the founder of the British Audio-Visual Research Network’s Virtual Colloquia, an AHRC-funded series of academic lectures and industry interviews which began in January 2021. To date, these events have included over 30 presentations from academics based across four continents, in addition to interviews with BAFTA award-winning and Emmy award-nominated composers and sound designers. The next series of events begins in October 2021.

Alongside my research, I am active within the TV industry as a media composer: my music has recently featured in the Emmy Award-winning series United Shades of America (CNN), the documentary Subnormal: A British Scandal (BBC One) and an international advertising campaign for internet brand Honey. My work is regularly heard on national primetime TV and recent series include Panorama (BBC One), Masterchef (BBC One), and Dispatches (Channel 4). My music has been recorded in venues including Abbey Road and Maida Vale Studios. 

I also hold broader interests in television development and production: in 2020, I was accepted onto the Edinburgh TV Festival’s TV PhD scheme, a joint venture with the AHRC. As part of this scheme, I was selected to pitch a TV show idea based on my research to commissioners at the BBC and Discovery, and this was broadcast live as one of the Festival sessions. My show concept was optioned by Nutopia, a leading international production company, and is currently in development. I completed an industry placement with Nutopia and was also invited to speak at the TV Festival’s AHTV: Exploring Research in Television event (2021).

Prior to beginning my PhD, I studied at the University of Oxford, where I graduated with a First Class degree in Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I graduated with a Masters in Composition with Distinction. I have also studied TV Scoring at New York University with composers including Sean Callery (24, Homeland) and Nathan Barr (True Blood, The Americans), and hold a PGCE in Music Education.

Research interests

My main areas of interest are as follows, in terms of both academic study and professional practice:

  • Music for audio-visual media (especially television/streaming)
  • Musical theatre
  • Composition
  • Music education 

Qualifications

  • PGCE Music - University of Buckingham
  • MMus Composition, Distinction - Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • BA (Hons) Music, First Class - University of Oxford