Dr James Mooney

Dr James Mooney


I joined the University as Lecturer in Music Technology in 2009 and was promoted to Associate Professor of Musicology and Music Technology in 2017.

I studied Music at Newcastle University before completing an MSc in Music Technology at University of York, where I wrote software and a dissertation on 3D audio (surround sound) using the Ambisonic system. I completed my PhD at University of Sheffield in 2005. My thesis, entitled 'Sound Diffusion Systems for the Live Performance of Electroacoustic Music', surveys multi-loudspeaker sound systems, explores the relationship between sound spatialisation technology and compositional philosophy in electronic art music (electroacoustic music), and presents a model for designing new systems. After my doctoral studies I took a position as Studio Manager at Culture Lab, Newcastle University (2006–09), where I continued my research while managing the studios, writing asset tracking software, and administrating web servers.



  • Programme Manager, MA Critical and Applied Musicology
  • Programme Manager, MA Electronic and Computer Music)
  • UCU Workload Rep

Research interests

Current research interests include: Histories of music technology, electronic musical instruments, computer music, sound recording, and record production from the 1870s to the present day; electronic, avant-garde, and experimental music post-1945; creation, use, and reception of music technology in popular music and art music; recorded music; science and technology studies (STS); musical instrument studies; artefact-based research methods (e.g. involving museum collections); popular music studies; sound studies; history of technology.

Since 2010 I have worked primarily on electronic music history. My latest project, “Instrumentalising Electronic Sound 1945–75”, explores the invention of new electronic musical instruments in the post-World War II decades and is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. Another current project is my collaboration with Prof Trevor Pinch (Cornell University) entitled “Exploring Material Cultures of Electronic Music through the Methods of Science and Technology Studies.” In partnership with the National Science and Media Museum (Bradford) I supervise an AHRC-funded doctoral project entitled “Objects of Electronic Sound and Music in Museums” that seeks to develop new approaches to the interpretation and display of electronic sound instruments in museums. I am also partner in a White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) project entitled “Electronic Soundscapes”, which is an interdisciplinary project run jointly across the Universities of Leeds, York, and Sheffield, exploring electronic sound from a range of historic, musicological, and literary perspectives.

My research involves working, often collaboratively, with museums and archives. Examples include the Science Museum (London), National Science and Media Museum (Bradford), British Library, Stockhausen Foundation, Canada Science and Technology Museum (Ottawa), Computer History Museum (CA, USA), Musical Instruments Museum (Brussels).

I have published several articles and book chapters on the English composer, musicologist, and experimental instrument-builder Hugh Davies (1943–2005). In 2015–16, during my AHRC Fellowship project, I worked with experimental musicians to stage concerts of Davies's music using period equipment and ran an instrument-builder residency and exhibition. In 2017, following an international conference that I convened at the Science Museum, I edited a special issue of the journal Organised Sound entitled 'Alternative Histories of Electroacoustic Music', which collected together 15 new essays/articles that look at electronic music history from different perspectives, exploring the early roots of electronic music, tracing unexpected paths from past to present, challenging historiographic, institutional and gender biases, and exploring electronic music's relationships with interdisciplinarity.

I have held the position of Edison Research Fellow at the British Library (2010–11), Research Associate at the Science Museum, London (2013–14 and 2015–16), AHRC Early Career Research Fellow (2015-16), and (informally) visiting researcher at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University (2019).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD (University of Sheffield)
  • MSc Music Technology (University of York)
  • BA (hons) Music (Newcastle University)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Student education

My teaching covers topics that are relevant to the study of music's relationships with technology, including:

  • history of electronic music and recorded sound
  • theory of music and sound technology (acoustics, analogue and digital audio, etc.)
  • social construction of music technology (i.e. the social processes by which music technologies are developed and used by people)
  • impact of new technologies upon musical practice and thinking
  • musical instrument studies (a.k.a. organology)

I am programme manager for the MA course in Electronic and Computer Music, and the BSc programme in Music, Multimedia and Electronics.

Current Research students:

  • Louise Aimes-Hill [PhD Musicology]
  • Edward Wilson-Stephens [PhD Musicology, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award]
  • Caitlin Mockridge-Rice [PhD Musicology, University of Leeds funded]
  • Jean-Baptiste Masson [PhD History and Musicology, WRoCAH Collaborative Doctoral Award]
  • Jamie Stephenson [PhD Musicology]

Completed Research students:

  • Dorien Schampaert [PhD Musicology]
  • Daniel Wilson [PhD Composition]

Research groups and institutes

  • Music, Science and Technology

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>