Staff profile

Dr James Williams

Senior Lecturer in Therapeutic Arts (Music) Ethnomusicologist


Therapeutic Arts


College of Health and Social Care


School of Allied Health and Social Care


Britannia Mill, Derby Campus, Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I'm a Senior Lecturer in Therapeutic Arts (Music) teaching composition, improvisation, and performance. I am the Programme Leader for BA (Hons) CET and I have previously lectured in Music Composition for four years at the University of Hertfordshire where I taught music theory and perspectives on electroacoustic and electronic composition.

I studied music at the University of Bristol and at the University of Edinburgh before moving to the University of Wolverhampton to read for a PhD funded by a Dean's doctoral scholarship award. My research interests focus on an anthropology of music, investigating the behavioral, social, creative and collaborative processes behind music-making. My research rests on ethnomusicological methodologies and socio-cultural modes of music analysis, exploring notational, improvisational, and electronic/electroacoustic technological practices in music. My post-doctoral research explores digital musicology and ethnographies of online music-based social media. Themes include virals, memes, politics and online behavior/culture. Other post-doctoral research examines the role of music for wellbeing in the Therapeutic Arts and Arts and Health disciplines.

I'm also the current Principal Editor of Musicology Research Journal (MRJ) (ISSN 2515-981X). MRJ publishes bi-annual volumes, with issues focussing on specific topics, such as Music on Screen (Spring 2017 and Autumn 2017) Geography, Music, Space (Spring 2018 and Autumn 2018) and Music, Mental Health, & Wellbeing (Spring 2019 and Autumn 2019 forthcoming). (

Teaching responsibilities

Programme Leadership

Module Leadership

PhD Supervision

1. 2015 - current. 3rd Supervisor, Doctorate in Professional Practice, Leadership.

2. 2018 - current. Director of Studies (1st Supervisor), ‘Performing Motherhood: using creative babywearing dance practice to facilitate embodied awareness and ways of knowing’.

3. 2018 - current. 2nd Supervisor. ‘Does Race Matter in Dramatherapy?’

Professional interests

Research interests

Membership of professional bodies

  • FHEA (Fellow of Higher Education Academy)


Doctorate - PhD (Ethnomusicology) 2016. University of Wolverhampton.

Thesis: Analytical Explorations of Creative Interaction and Collaborative Process Through Composition, Rehearsal and Performance: A Composer-Composer Case Study Of Acoustic Music With Live Electronics.

Masters - MSc (Music) 2012. University of Edinburgh.

Composition Portfolio: Re-scoring Man Ray: Experimental composition for La Retour a la Raison (1923) and The Starfish (1928) (for contemporary ensemble and live electronics).

Postgraduate - PG Cert Higher Ed. 2016. University of Derby.

Research Project: Using YouTube as an Educational Resource: Enriching the Teaching and Learning of Music in Higher Education.

Undergraduate - BA (Hons) (Music) 2011. University of Bristol.

Dissertation: Bringing the Movie to Life (and) The Incident With The Broom: Brushing back the covers of Dukas' and Disney's L'apprenti Sorcier (1897, 1940).

Recent conferences

Williams, J., and Randall, I. (2019) ‘Applying collaborative and site-specific ephemeral artwork in Higher Education: A student and SEN pupil focused case-study of interdisciplinary workshops for creative health and wellbeing’ in Building Bridges’ in Applied Arts and Health, Education and Community. Ironbridge, Telford. Journal of Applied Arts and Health (JAAH), University of Wolverhampton. August 2019.

Bailach Cabrerizo, D., and Williams, J. (2019) ‘An Empirical Study on Performers and Mental Health: To what extent can integrated arts workshops help to improve the wellbeing of music students in a Spanish Conservatoire?’ in Music, Wellbeing, and Mental Health. BFE. RMA. NAHME. Hereford College of Arts, 11 – 12 May 2019.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Music, Political Media, and Fake News: The Impact of Viral Propaganda on Generation ‘M’ through Cassetteboy vs. Donald Trump (2016)’ in Music and Musicology in the Age of Post-Truth. University College Dublin. September 2018.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Remapping Ethnomusicology Online: New Terminology for the Digital, Anthropological Study of Music-Making in Cyberspace’ in Terminology research in musicology and the humanities. Conmusterum, Music Academic, Zagreb, May 25 – 26, 2018.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response – An online phenomenon or a therapeutic reality?:  Opening academic discussion(s) on ASMR, and exposing its practical relevance in music composition, performance and listening in the arts, health, wellbeing, and HE sector’ in Study Day and Workshop on Music, Well-being and Mental Health. York St John University, York. RMA BFE NAMHE. 12– 13 May 2018

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Towards a ‘Digital’ and ‘Online’ Autoethnography: Using social media as a platform for reflective journalism in music composition and the therapeutic arts in HE’ in Beyond “Mesearch”: Autoethnography, Self-reflexivity, and Personal Experience as Academic Research in Music Studies. IMR,   School of Advanced Study, University of London. Senate House. 16 April 2018.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Art and Collaborative Composition: How designing musical notation in therapeutic arts workshops facilitates creative interaction towards social wellbeing’ in Together in Music: Expression, Performance and Communication in Ensembles. National Centre for Early Music, University of York. 12 – 14  April 2018.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Ethnosonicologies Online: An Insight into Cyberspatial Sonorities and Virtual Soundscapes’ in Rethinking Sound. Hanyang University, Seoul. 30 – 31 March 2018.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘Collective Music-making as Social Interaction. ARTOOL 2017. University of Vic. Central University of Catalonia (UVic UCC). June 2017.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘An online 'Thug Life' music scene: exploring the use of Hip-Hop in a digital culture of viral memes’ in Communicating Music Scenes: Networks, People, Technology. Institute of Musicology, Research Centre for Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Department of Sociology and Communications; Budapest University of Technology and Economics; IASPM Hungary. University of Leeds.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘Music in Viral Video Memes: Cassetteboy's Political Parodies in Social Media' in IV International Congress: Music and Audio Visual Culture. MUCA. University of Murcia.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘Expanding Ethnomusicology: Evolutions towards Ethnomusicological Research Methods’ in Research Seminar, (Guest Speaker by Invitation) University of Leeds.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘Music ‘Mash-ups’ and Social-Media Culture: How ‘Cassetteboy’ Tackles Politics in Cyberspace’ in Geography, Music, Space. University of Durham. January 2017. 

Williams, J. (2016) ‘Sharing Creative Performance: Collaborations between Ensemble and Live Electronics’ in Performance and Creativity Conference.Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, November 2016.

Williams, J. (2016) ‘Renewing Creativity: Departures from Compositional Principles’ in Principles of Music  Composing. Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius, Lithuania, November 2016.

Williams, J. (2016) ‘Towards and ‘Ethnosonicology’: Analytical Research Methods in an Electroacoustic Case Study’ in Performing Arts Research Symposium. School of Performing Arts, University of Wolverhampton, September 2016.

Williams, J. (2016) ‘Exploring Collective Decision-making in Collaborative Rehearsal Environments: Three-dimensional Improvisations between Composer, Performer and Live Electronics’ in Music and/as Process, 4th Annual Conference. In Association with RMA, Bath Spa University, July 2016.

Williams, J. (2016) ‘Exchanges of Control in Collaborative Electroacoustic Performance’ in Seventh International Symposium on Music /Sonic Art: Practices and Theories, MuSA 2016. Hochschule für Musik, Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Musikinformatik (IMWI), Karlsruhe, June/July, 2016.  

Williams, J. (2014) ‘Paths to Creative Performance through Co-composer Collaboration’ in Re-thinking Music Analysis and Performance. University of Oxford; Institute of Musical Research, University of London; and AHRC Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP), November 2014.

Williams, J. (2014) ‘Collaborative Pathways to Creative Performance’ in Seminar Series. Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Wolverhampton, November 2014.

Williams, J. (2014) ‘The Transformation of Text-based Contemporary Music in Experimental Co-composer Collaboration’ in INTIME 2014. Voice and Text: Experimentation/Transformation. University of Coventry, October 2014. 

Williams, J. (2014) ‘The Role of ‘Musical Conversation’ in Co-composer Collaboration’ in Music and/as Process, 2nd Annual Conference. In association with RMA, Canterbury Christ Church University, May 2014.

Williams, J. (2013) ‘Notation as Inspiration for Creative Performance’ in 5thAnnual Research Conference. CADRE, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Wolverhampton. June 2013.

International experience

In the media


Geography, Music, Space (Durham University) (

At Oxford University (RMA event) I "compared algorithmic optimisation to an unrelenting diet of pasta—platforms such as Spotify only feed us with what we already know, making us all musical bores" in Conference Report: Music and the Internet, BFE/RMA Study Day, December 2018 in Oxford (

Recent publications

Williams, J. (2020) ‘Collaborative Notation and Performance in Therapeutic Arts Workshops: How Musical Scoring in Groups Enables Creative Interaction and Communication for Social Wellbeing’ in Timmers, R., Bailes, F.,and Daffern, H. (eds.) Together in Music: Participation, Coordination, and Creativity in Ensembles. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Williams, J. (2020) 'Online Navigations through Music, Propaganda and 'Fake News': A post-truth case-study of Cassetteboy and political social media' in Marx, W. (ed.) Twentieth Century Music (Special Issue). ISSN 1478-5722. (Forthcoming).

Williams, J. (2020) The Autoethnographic Musician: Using the Therapeutic Arts model of ‘reflective practice’ to improve student wellbeing' in Wiley, C. (ed.) (2019) Beyond Mesearch. (Forthcoming).

Williams, J., Waddington-Jones, C., Sharpe, E., and Mawby, S. (2019) Music, Mental Health, and Wellbeing (Volume 1). Musicology Research, Issue 6 (Spring, 2019)  Online. (Forthcoming) ISSN 2515-981X.

Williams, J. (2019) ‘Antiphonal Authorities: Exchanges of Control and Creativity in Collaborative Electroacoustic Performance’ in Music/Sonic Art Practices. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Forthcoming 

Williams, J. (2019) ''Thug-life’ Virals: Cultural and Musical Transformations of Hip-Hop in an Online Generation’ in CMS: Technology and ScenesForthcoming. Publisher tbc.

Williams, J. (2019) ‘Cassetteboy: Music, Social Media, and the Political Comedy Mash-up’ in Technology and Scenes: From cassettes to stream: Essays on the relationships between technology, popular music scenes and the changing media ecosystem. Forthcoming Book Chapter. Palgrave.

Williams, J. and Hall, S. (eds.) (2018) Geography, Music, Space. Musicology Research Journal (Volume 2), Issue 5 (Spring, 2018) Online. ISSN 2515-981X.

Horlor, S., and Williams, J. (eds) (2018) Geography, Music, SpaceMusicology Research Journal (Volume 1), Issue 4 (Spring, 2018) Online. ISSN 2515-981X.

Williams, J. (2018) ‘Ethnography, Autoethnography, and Social Media: Pedagogical Practices in Music and the Therapeutic Arts’ in Taylor, J., and Holmwood, C. (eds.) (2018) Learning as a Creative and Developmental Process in Higher Education: A Therapeutic Arts approach and its wider application. Routledge.

Hall, S., and Williams, J. (eds.) (2017) Music on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research, Issue 3 (Autumn, 2017) Online. ISSN 2515-981X.

Williams, J. (2017) ‘Creative Departures from Compositional Principles: A case study of contemporary, theatrical minimalism with live electronics’ in Principles of Music Composing Journal. pp. 100 - 106. September 2017.

Hall, S., and Williams, J. (eds.) (2017) Music on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research, Issue 2, Vol. 1 (Spring, 2017) Online. ISSN 2515-981X.

Williams, J. (ed.) (2016) ‘Editor’s Forward’ in Music as Creative Process and Creative Product: Explorations through Analysis, Composition and Performance. Musicology Research, Vol. 1 (Autumn, 2016) Online. ISSN 2515-981X.

Williams, J. (2016) Analytical Explorations of Creative Interaction and Collaborative Process through Composition, Rehearsal and Performance: A Composer-Composer Case Study of Contemporary Music and Live Electronics. PhD Thesis. WIRE Repository: University of Wolverhampton.