Staff profile

Dr James Williams

Senior Lecturer in Therapeutic Arts (Music) Ethnomusicologist


Therapeutic Arts


College of Health, Psychology and Social Care


School of Allied Health and Social Care


Britannia Mill, Derby Campus, Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am an ethnomusicologist, and have been a Senior Lecturer in Therapeutic Arts (Music) since 2015, having previously lectured in Music Composition for four years at the University of Hertfordshire. I am the Programme Leader for the undergraduate and integrated Masters degrees in Arts & Health, focussing on the use of interdisciplinary arts as a tool for wellbeing. My teaching spans disciplines of applied arts, health humanities, medical and arts anthropologies, and community arts.

I originally studied music at the University of Bristol and at the University of Edinburgh before completing a doctorate on the behavioural, social, and creative processes behind collaborative music-making in groups between composers and performers. ​My research interests focus on social and cross-cultural anthropologies of music, exploring the interactive and communicative aspects of performance and composition.

As an ethnomusicologist, my research rests on ethnographic method. Recent studies include: digital musicology and ethnographies of online political media; the role of social media as a platform for reflective practice in Higher Education music programmes; music-making as a means of cultural preservation in Tibetan Schools for refugee children in Northern India; ‘collaborative music notation’ as a design-tool in groups for improved social interaction; site-specificity in outdoors HE Arts & Health projects; and developing autoethnographic method both for composer and performer wellbeing, and for community musicians. I am currently co-editing a book on Music, Space, and Site, exploring increasingly geographic approaches to ethnomusicology.

I am also the Principal Editor of the international and peer-reviewed Journal of Music, Health, and Wellbeing (JMHW) (ISSN 2515-981X). JMHW offers online publications for current research into applied music across a broad range of disciplines and subject areas, including Health and Social Care, Education and Creativity, Therapeutic Arts (such as Music Therapy), Arts and/for Health, Health Humanities, Social Sciences & Public Health perspectives of Music (including Cultural, Social, and Medical Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Music Sociology, Music Psychology, and Music & Neuroscience), practices in Composition, Performance, Improvisation, & Listening, and Community Music. 

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)


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.

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).

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

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).

International experience

Since joining the University in 2015, I have traveled internationally to:

In the media

Williams, J. (2020) ‘Exploring Health and Wellbeing through Medical Ethnomusicology: Implications for early-career researchers and educationists’ in Shaping the present by the Future: Ethno/musicology and Contemporaneity. The Institute of Musciology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Belgrage. September 2020. forthcoming

Williams J. (2020) ‘Composing, Reflecting, Writing, Composing: Exploring music, self, and narrative in the education of Arts & Health Practitioners. The Autoethnography of Composition and the Compositions of Autoethnography. University of Glasgow. June 2020. Forthcoming

Williams, J. (2020) ‘The voice of the student musician in Arts & Health education: Balancing disciplinarity with    interdisciplinarity’ in York Music Education Conference 2020: Learner Voice. University of York. May 2020. Forthcoming.

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 the 5th Annual Research Conference. CADRE, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Wolverhampton. June 2013.

Book Sections:

Williams, J. (2020) ‘Music, Theatre, and Heritage in a Tibetan Refugee School, Himachel Pradesh, India: Preserving Cultural Identity through the Performing Arts’ in Williams, J., and Horlor, S. (eds.) Geographical Ethnomusicologies: Place, Performance, and Politics. (proposed title) J Stanford Publishing. (Forthcoming).

Williams, J. (2020) ‘Afterword: Towards Musical Geographies’ in Williams, J., and Horlor, S. (eds.) Geographical Ethnomusicologies: Place, Performance, and Politics. (proposed title) J Stanford Publishing. (Forthcoming).

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. (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. (2020) ‘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. Book Chapter. Palgrave.

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

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.


Williams, J., and Randall, I. (2020) ‘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’ tbc. (forthcoming)

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.) tbc. (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.

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

Edited Books:

Williams, J., and Horlor, S. (eds.) Geographical Ethnomusicologies: Place, Performance, and Politics. (proposed title) J Stanford Publishing. (Forthcoming).

Edited Volumes:

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

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

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

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

Hall, S., and Williams, J. (eds.) (2017) Music on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research Journal, Issue 2, Vol. 1 (Spring, 2017) 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.