Academic Staff Directory

Dr Sara McGuinness

Dr Sara McGuinness

Academic school:
Job title:
Higher qualifications:

BA Sound Technology (Imperial College, London), PgDip Music (Middlesex University), MMus (Dist.) (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), PhD Music (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Professional organisations:
The Performing Rights Society (PRS)
The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS)(PRS)
Musicians Union


Dr Sara McGuinness specialises in practiced-based research, performance, and sound recording, with a focus on Congolese and Cuban music.

She has been a professional musician working on the UK Salsa scene for more than 20 years and entered the world of UK-based Congolese musicians in 2005. She brought together Latin and Congolese musicians to form a band as her practice-based PhD research into the dynamic relationship between the two musics.

Sara teaches Performance and Recording at LCM and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and travels regularly to the Sahara desert in SW Algeria to deliver sound recording training to the people of Western Sahara displaced into refugee camps there.

She has also taught in the National Conservatoire in Bamako, Mali, runs a Cuban Big Band here in the UK and teaches regular music courses in Cuba.

Through her extensive work with musicians around the world, Sara actively explores the inextricable links between music, culture and identity. She travels both as a musician and a teacher, promoting the empowerment of musicians through technology and skills.
on her PhD research project.

Research and scholarly output:


McGuinness, S. (2012) Doctoral thesis: Grupo Lokito: A practice-based investigation into the contemporary links between Congolese and Cuban popular music, School of Oriental and African Studies.


Conference papers and/or presentations

McGuinness, S. (2013) Trans-Atlantic groove: Musical Commonalities in Cuban Son and Congolese Rumba; study day on Music around the Atlantic Rim, British Forum For Ethnomusicology, Cardiff University, Wales.

McGuinness, S. (2012) Congolese music making in London: A process of integration and separation, African Studies Association UK Conference, Leeds University, Leeds, UK.

Research degree supervision:



Role in team

Thesis title

Liz Pipe     Second supervisor The role of gesture and non-verbal communication in popular music performance, and its application to curriculum and pedagogy.