Academic Staff Directory

Tim Sayer

Dr Tim Sayer

Senior Lecturer in Music Technology
Academic school:
Job title:
Senior Lecturer in Music Technology
Higher qualifications:

BA (Dartington College of Arts), MSc (Stafford University), PhD (University of Plymouth)

Professional organisations:
The Performing Right Society for Music (PRS)
Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Musicians Union


Previously, Tim was the faculty director of research at the University of St Mark and St John Plymouth. He is also a digital media software developer and undertakes numerous performances a year as a freelance trumpet player and digital media artist. The nature and style of these performances range enormously and include jazz/blues, free improvisation, popular, world, experimental and electro-acoustic music. Tim’s research interests centre on human computer interface design in the context of improvised musical performance, exploring the perceptual parameter space that exists between performer and technology as a means of investigating cognitive/behavioural mappings.

Since completing his PhD, Tim has developed a number of software applications for live performance which implicitly or explicitly challenge mechanical modes of musical behaviour. Recently he has developed an application which uses a brain computer interface (EEG) to control graphic scores. 

Research and scholarly output:


Sayer, T. (2016) Cognitive load and live coding: a comparison with improvisation using traditional instruments. International Journal Of Performance Arts And Digital Media,  Vol. 12 , Iss. 2,2016, Taylor & Francis, UK. ISSN 1479-4713

Sayer, T. (2015) Cognition and Improvisation:  Some Implications for Live Coding, International Conference on Live Coding. University of Leeds. DOI 10.5281/zennodo.19328, ISBN 9780853163404.

Sayer, T. (2014) Hypnagogia and Improvisation: Interfacing With Reflexive/Volitional Behaviour. INTER-FACE: International Conference on Live Interfaces Proceedings ISBN: 978-989-746-060-9

Sayer, T. (2014) Non-Thinking Music Making: A Proposed Methodology To Emancipate Improvisation. 9th Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology Proceedings.

Sayer, T. (2013) Dynamic Scores: Extending The Parameter Space Of Live Performance. Scene, Vol1 No2, Intellect, UK. ISSN: 20443714

Sayer, T. (2011) React/Respond: Playing with agency in live multimedia performance. Avanca Cinema Proceedings 2011, ISBN: 9789899685819 /

Sayer, T. (2007) Using Technology To Ride The Reflex/Volitional Continuum In Improvised Musical Performance. ICMC07 Proceedings, Copenhagen, Denmark, ISSN 2223-3881

Sayer, T. (2006) A Conceptual Tool for Improvisation. Contemporary Music Review, Vol25, Routledge, UK

Sayer, T. (2004) Software Intervention in the Process of Improvisation. Digital Creativity, Vol14 No2 Swetz & Zeitlinger, Holland

Digital media performances

MondriSonic 2016 - Graphic score for EEG brain interface and Bass Clarinet: Bath Spa Media Wall

The Cue Garden 2015 - Piece for live coder and ensemble:  Vibraphonic Festival Exeter

War Words Music 2014 - Solo trumpet and electronics: Barbican Theatre Plymouth

What remains and is to come 2014 - Sound design for choreographer Rosanna Irvine and Katrina Brown

React/Respond 2011 - Interactive Graphic Score, Plymouth Contemporary Music Festival



July 2015 - International Conference on Live Coding, University of Leeds (

December 2014 - 9th Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, CIM14. Berlin, Germany (

November 2014 - INTER-FACE : International Conference on Live Interfaces 2014, Lisbon, Portugal (

November 2012 - Interactive Media Arts Conference (IMAC), Copenhagen

July 2011 - Avanca International Conference Cinema, Art, Technology, Communication, Portugal

May 2011 - Leeds International Festival for Innovations in Music Production and Composition

September 2007 - Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts – Dartington College of Arts

August 2007 - International Computer Music Conference: School of Architecture, Copenhagen

February 2007 - Sonorities Two Thousand + Seven – Sonic Arts Research Center, Belfast

June 2005 - CyberSonica: Symposium on contemporary sound art, Science Museum, London

June 2003 - 1st International Conference for Digital Technologies and Performance Arts, School Of Intermedia And Performance Arts, Doncaster College (

August 2002 - Beyond Noise: Acoustic, Technical and Metaphorical Aspects of Noise in Audio and Visual Art, University of California Santa Barbara

June 2002 - CyberSonica: Symposium on contemporary sound art ,ICA, London