Dr Emily Payne

Dr Emily Payne


I am a Lecturer in 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 Prof. Philip Thomas (Huddersfield) and Prof. 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). I also hold the role of Assistant Editor of Music & Science.

Current Research Students (Co-supervisor):

  • Jennifer Hogan
  • Eleanor Barnard
  • Michael Solomon Williams


  • Admissions Lead
  • School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice (Schools of Music and Performance & Cultural Industries)

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).

My previous position as Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project, ‘John Cage and the Concert for Piano and Orchestra (2015–18) developed my research interests in indeterminate experimental music and practices. The project explored issues of historicity, analysis, reception, and performance in relation to the Concert. A significant element of our research was an examination of the piece as it relates to performance and practice. 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 am also co-editor of a double special issue of Contemporary Music Review, 'Performing Indeterminacy’, currently in press, 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.

My most recent research project, undertaken in collaboration with Philip Thomas (University of Huddersfield), examines the ensemble Apartment House rehearsing and recording Christian Wolff’s Exercises (1973–74). 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, edited by Robert Adlington and Esteban Buch (Routledge, 2020); and CIRCUIT: Musiques Contemporaines. My future research plans are to build on this project by undertaking a more sustained investigation of the psychological phenomena and mechanisms of performing experimental and avant-garde music.

<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)

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>