Dr Emily Payne

Dr Emily Payne


I am an Associate Professor of Music. From 2015 to 2018 I was a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded John Cage and Concert for Piano and Orchestra project, led by Philip Thomas (Huddersfield) and Martin Iddon (Leeds). 

I undertook my PhD at the University of Oxford, employing an ethnographic approach to examine the creative processes of clarinet performance. I hold a BMus in clarinet performance from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and an MMus in Advanced Musical Studies (Performance Studies) from Royal Holloway, University of London.

My work is published in journals including CIRCUITContemporary Music Review, cultural geographies, Music & Letters, Music + Practice, and Musicae Scientiae. I am co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Time in Music (OUP, 2021), and Material Cultures of Music Notation: New Perspectives on Musical Inscription (Routledge, 2022). In 2019–22 I held the role of Assistant Editor for Music & Science, and continue to be a member of the journal’s Editorial Board; I am also a Consulting Editor for Musicae Scientiae

Current Research Students (Co-supervisor):

  • Eleanor Barnard
  • Elizabeth Fair
  • Jennifer Hogan
  • John Monteiro
  • Michael Solomon Williams
  • Yani Sun

Research interests

My research profile centres on music performance studies, with particular expertise in creativity, collaboration, and post-war music. My PhD employed ethnographic methods to investigate the creative processes of contemporary art music by studying collaborations between professional clarinettists and composers. The thesis was based on qualitative data collected through semi-structured interviews with musicians and audio-visual footage of workshops, rehearsals, and performances, alongside analyses of sketch materials and score annotations.

Adopting an ecological perspective and drawing on theories of craft and distributed creativity, my research developed a new understanding of what it means to be creative when working with a score, by questioning the prevailing notion of creativity as innovation. Findings from the project have been published in Contemporary Music Review, cultural geographies, Musicae Scientiae, and Music & Letters. I am co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Time in Music (OUP, 2021), and Material Cultures of Music Notation: New Perspectives on Musical Inscription (Routledge, 2022).

I am co-editor of a Music & Science Special Collection, ‘The Role of Music Psychology Research in a Complex World’, based on contributions to the SEMPRE 2020 conference that I co-organised in the School of Music. The Collection is the first in nearly a decade to (re)consider the discipline in light of current global challenges, and to foster debate about the role that music psychology might play in addressing them.

My ongoing research develops my work on the creative processes of performance in two directions: 

Performance practices of post-war music

In 2015–18 I was Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project, ‘John Cage and the Concert for Piano and Orchestra. The project explored issues of historicity, analysis, reception, and performance in relation to the Concert. Audio-visual material from the research was published as a documentary resource on the project’s website, which provides new perspectives on performing the Concert and indeterminate music more generally. My chapter, ‘Time and ensemble dynamics in indeterminacy: John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra’, is published in The Oxfird Handbook of Time in Music. I co-edited a double issue of Contemporary Music Review, 'Performing Indeterminacy’, which presents selected papers from the project’s international conference of the same name, including my own article on instrumental interaction and subversion in the Concert.

In 2017 I undertook a project with Philip Thomas (University of Huddersfield) examining ensemble dynamics in the music of Christian Wolff. Using video recordings of the sessions and interviews with musicians and the composer, our research offers a view of ensemble interaction and group dynamics that is grounded in both the momentary interactions between musicians and the cultural knowledge and conduct that are animated by Wolff’s notation. Findings from the project are published in Finding Democracy in Music (Routledge, 2020); CIRCUIT: Musiques Contemporaines, and Together in Music: Coordination, Expression, Participation (OUP, 2021). My future research plans are to build on this project by undertaking a more sustained investigation of ensemble dynamics and creative processes in the performance of contemporary music.

Exploring the performer-audience dynamic

In 2019 I began a project with Karen Burland exploring performer perceptions of live performance and audiences. While there are large bodies of research into audience experience and musicians’ use of expression and communication during performance, these are often dealt with separately rather than considering how they interact. We are currently conducting a large-scale questionnaire study to be followed by further in-depth interviews with participants of different backgrounds. Outline findings from our research have been presented at the Performance Studies Network Conference and the SEMPRE 50th Anniversary Conference.

<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>


  • DPhil Music (Oxon)
  • MMus Advanced Musical Studies (London)
  • BMus Performance
  • FHEA
  • Dip ABRSM Teaching Skills

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Royal Musical Association
  • Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE)
  • European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM)

Student education

I contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and assessment across a range of music and music psychology provision in the School of Music. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Music, Science and Technology
  • Music as Culture

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>