Dr James Williams

Position: Senior Lecturer in Therapeutic Arts (Music) Ethnomusicologist

College: College of Health and Social Care

Department: Therapeutic Practice

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

James 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. James's research interests focus on an anthropology of music, investigating the behavioral, social, creative and collaborative processes behind music-making. His research rests on ethnomusicological methodologies and socio-cultural modes of music analysis, exploring notational, improvisational, and electronic/electroacoustic technological practices in music. James's post-doctoral research explores digital musicology and ethnographies of online music-based social media. Themes include virals, memes, politics and online behavior/culture.

Teaching responsibilities

Module Leadership

  • 5TA505 Performance (Level 5)
  • 5TA501 Wellbeing and Society (Level 5)
  • 5TA504 Music and Musicianship II  (Level 5)
  • 6TA501 Music and Musicianship III (Level 6)
  • 6TA997 Independent Scholarship (Level 6 Research/Body of Work/Dissertation).

Professional interests

  • Music and Research
  • Music, Pedagogy and Higher Education.

Research interests

  • Ethnomusicology
  • Anthropology of Music
  • Music, Society and Culture
  • Collaboration, Interaction and Creativity in music-making (composition, rehearsal and performance)
  • Digital musicology/online music (cyber-cultures and politics)
  • Electroacoustic and Electronic composition, performance and live improvisation
  • Notation and contemporary compositional process(es)
  • Media Music Aesthetics (film, tv, advertising).

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 publications

  • Williams, J. and Hall, S. (eds.) (2018) Geography, Music, Space: tbc. Musicology Research, Issue 5 (Spring, 2018) Online. (forthcoming)
  • Williams, J. (2018) ‘Antiphonal Authorities: Exchanges of Control and Creativity in Collaborative Electroacoustic Performance’ in Music/Sonic Art Practices. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Forthcoming 
  • Williams, J. (2018) ''Thug-life’ Virals: Cultural and Musical Transformations of Hip-Hop in an Online Generation’ in CMS: Technology and Scenes. Forthcoming. Publisher tbc.
  • Horlor, S., and Williams, J. (eds) (2018) Geography, Music, Space: tbcMusicology Research, Issue 4 (Spring, 2018) Online. Forthcoming.
  • Williams, J. (2018) ‘Music Assessment in Creative Expressive Therapy’ 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. Forthcoming.
  • Hall, S., and Williams, J. (eds.) (2017) Music on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research, Issue 3 (Autumn, 2017) Online. Forthcoming.
  • 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. Available at: http://www.musicologyresearch.co.uk/publications/issue2-spring2017
  • 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. http://hdl.handle.net/2436/620604 

Recent conferences

  • 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtISSyZhaQM 
  • 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 5th Annual Research Conference. CADRE, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Wolverhampton. June 2013.

International experience

Since James joined the University in 2015, he has traveled internationally to:

Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China.

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius, Lithuania.

University of Murcia, Spain.

Vic University, Spain.

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