Sapphire Littler


I am a postgraduate research student with an interest in musical analysis and temporality. Throughout my BA and MA (by research) degrees, I have worked with a clear focus on the compositional analysis of 20th and 21st century music, with my MA exploring the reinvention of the concerto in Finland over the last forty years, specifically in relation to the clarinettist, Kari Kriikku. It was during this thesis that I first read J. D. Kramer’s The Time of Music, which sent me on the tangent I am still on to this day. My analysis over the years has included works by Crumb, Stravinsky, Takemitsu, Saariaho, Lindberg, Tiensuu, and Ligeti, to name some of the more significant to my research. 

Although I spend my days researching and writing, my evenings are often spent playing the clarinet and bass clarinet, having spent a large amount of time playing in contemporary music ensembles, as well as more traditional orchestras. My performances have ranged from the eclectic Choke by Anna Clyne, for bass clarinet and tape, to Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with David Alexander and the Johannes Ensemble.  


Research interests

My thesis, Continuing Time: Unity in post tonal composition, will articulate how 20th and 21st century composers have audibly articulated the perception of time in post-tonal music. Without the ability to rely on functional tonality to create structure in their works, techniques have been adapted to create new temporal processes. I aim to identify these techniques, and ascertain whether they are synonymous with the post-tonal movement as a whole, or are limited by the cultural and geographical factors which can influence composers. My thesis will be able to inform not only the analyst, but the composer, too.

  • temporality 
  • post-tonality 
  • postmodernism 
  • musical analysis 
  • twentieth-century music 


  • MA by Research (York)
  • BA Music (York)