London College of Music


LCM has a highly eclectic approach to musicology that incorporates interpreting recorded popular music, performance studies, contemporary music and spirituality, French organ music and music pedagogy.

Interpreting recorded popular music

The analysis of the music (rather than the context in which it occurs) has been a rather marginal area of popular music studies until recently but LCM is at the forefront of new research into how listeners interpret recorded popular music. Dr. Simon Zagorski-Thomas has published extensively on the topic and is developing a large-scale research project on the topic with Professor Allan Moore of Surrey University. Justin Paterson has written numerous papers for the Audio Engineering Society around the musicology of record production. Anthony Meynell's PhD is concerned with how record production was used to create the notion of psychedelia in the 1960s.

Classical music hyper-production

Running from April to October 2015, this project, led by Dr. Simon Zagorski-Thomas with Dr. Amy Blier-Carruthers (Royal Academy of Music), Dr. Andrew Bourbon and Dr. Emilie Capulet, seeked to create new and exciting sonic worlds in the production of live and recorded performances of the classical repertoire.

This involved working with classical performers on extended performance techniques for the recording studio and the concert hall, drawing on the multi-tracking and editing techniques of popular music to create innovative and experimental recordings of the classical repertoire and live surround sound projections of concert performances. This also involved the creative and experimental use of analogue and digital signal processing to stage these constructed performances in ways designed to challenge the listener to reinterpret works from the established canon of classical music.

The culmination of this research resulted in a live performance at Kings Place on 7 October 2015. The event was recorded, filmed and edited and is available to view below.

Performance studies

LCM has recently organised an AHRC funded research network on 'Performance in the Studio', Dr. Simon Zagorski-Thomas was awarded a visiting fellowship at the University of Cambridge on the same topic and Liz Pipe, one of our PhD students, is conducting a study on the influence of factors such as gesture and other forms of non-verbal communication on how a performance is interpreted.  Justin Paterson sits on the editorial board of the North American journal, Popular Music in Practise. Tyrian Purple's PhD combines practice as research and ethnographic methodologies to look at performance in the studio.

Dr. Robert Sholl has published on musical improvisation and is active as performer and improviser, recently performing an improvised Le Chemin de la Croix with readings of Paul Claudel's poems. Robert is completing a cycle of Messiaen complete organ works and has recently presented his work on the new organ at Duke’s Hall (Royal Academy of Music). He is particular interested in the interface between performance and somatic studies, and would welcome interest from potential students.

Contemporary music and spirituality

Prof. Robert Sholl has organised four major conferences on contemporary music at the Southbank Centre. Three of these have centred on issues of contemporary music and spirituality, and are partly reflected in Contemporary Music and Spirituality (Ashgate, 2014) ed. With Sander van Maas (Amsterdam). While Dr. Sholl has worked extensively on the music of Olivier Messiaen, and Arvo Pärt (most recently on the politics of 9/11 and film studies), this volume contains studies of John Adams, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and on Brian Ferneyhough (a reflection on practice-led research).

Dr Sholl's work on spirituality has explored Feldenkrais's somatic philosophy. Recent work on listening (Fordham University press) extends this body-centred perspective to examine three aspects of liminal listening in studies of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, Messiaen’s opera St François d'Assise, and Berio’s electronic work Visages embracing philosophy, aesthetics, theology and listener engagement with performance.

French organ music

Dr. Robert Sholl’s current work focuses on a topology of Messiaen’s music viewed through the lens of the organ music. It seems to build a critical map of the religious construction of this music, but in particular embraces primary archival sources, philosophy and aesthetics, musical analysis, and psychoanalytical (Lacanian) readings of the works and their continuing presence for audiences today. Robert will be presenting work at the prestigious American musicological society conference 2014 (Milwaukee). Robert is currently preparing three large-scale practice-led projects involving the organ, working with composers, and with Dr David Baker (Institute of Education). Robert has also been given permission to translate the theoretical writings of Messiaen’s student Jean-Louis Florentz (1947-2004), and has organised a conference on Florentz at the IMR (July 9, 2014) to be followed by a recital of Florentz’s complete organ works by Thomas Monnet. Robert is particularly interested in French organ music, and his student Daniel Sharpley is working on an extensive study of the music of Maurice Duruflé.

Music and pedagogy

Dr. Robert Sholl organised a conference at the IMR (funded by the HEA) on music and pedagogy examining different approaches to teaching music and research methods in University and conservatory environments. He is an invited speaker and part of European consortium of research presenting at EUROMAC 2014 (Leuven). He was recently interviewed by Dr Nicholas Baragwanath (Nottingham University) for a BBC Radio 3 programme on music pedagogy, and the possible contemporary use of eighteenth-century pedagogical techniques.