I welcome PhD applications within the broad field of creative music technology and sonic arts, particularly electroacoustic/mixed-media composition, sound-based installations and performance systems design.

I also have interests relating to embodied cognition and more general types of interaction and microtonal music.

Mail me at bd [dot] bridges [at] ulster [dot] ac [dot] uk if you are interested in these topics or have another relevant one to propose. See Ulster’s Doctoral College for more information about fees and scholarships, processes, deadlines, etc.

Past theses are generally available via the British Library EThOS service.

Research Students:


Patrick Moore: composition and interactivity


Lewis Smith (2023): Inclusive software design enabling disabled and no-disabled musicians to compose and perform music in an immersive virtual network

Darragh Morgan (2023): PhD by Published Work)

Matthew Jacobson (2021): Project title: The Space Between: exploring spontaneity, group interaction and social context in improvised performances of motivic compositions


Aidan O’Donnell (2020): Project title: Tuning In’: Practices in tuning and pitch related inflections in the Donegal fiddle sound community

Eamonn McCrossan (RIP): Project topic: Post-spectral Composition and Performance Systems.

Eamonn was a very talented composer and deep musical thinker: some of his composition work can be found below (1’25 in video 1, 8’07 in video 2).

Mike Nielsen (completed 2017): Project title: Improvising a Microtonal System : the creative implications of a hybrid scale calculated from the reversed fretboard structure of a standard 24-fret guitar, and the resulting xenharmonic microtonal system


John King (completed 2015): Project title: Rhythmic Interaction Design for Electronic Music: multitouch technologies, affordances, embodied image schemas and performance practice

John writes:

Within rhythmic electronic music, I contest that a fundamental mismatch exists between the tools commonly used in its creation and the musical structures with which they are concerned.

Axis 2

Axis is an intuitive performance tool for manipulating rhythmic loops of audio. Axis has been created in an iterative and modular fashion using open source software. Core to the design philosophy is the primacy of looped audio as a feature of contemporary rhythmic electronic music.

Axis uses non-linear, continuous cyclic representations of looped audio objects. The design framework has been guided by Lakoff and Johnson’s theories of conceptual metaphor and image schema, [exploring] discernible features of looped audio through gestures afforded by a multi-touch tablet interface.and by experientialist perspectives of embodied cognitive perception…

Axis 1

This system is made possible through the use of a multi-touch Android tablet device to control an audio engine built using Supercollider. Initial implementation was as follows:

  • The Supercollider performance patch was created using Supercollider 3.5.3.
  • The Android application was created using Processing 2.05b.
  • The Android application was designed for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1n (Model GT-P7511, OS: Android v4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, NVIDIA Tegra T20 1GHz dual-core processor, 1024MB RAM).

Brendan McCloskey (completed 2014): currently working with a number of organisations as a workshop facilitator and lecturer, recent work with Ulster University, QUB and Drake Music | Project title: inGrid: A new tactile and accessible digital musical instrument for enhanced creative independence amongst musicians with quadriplegic cerebral palsy|

This project saw the design of anaccessible, inclusive digital musical instrument (DMI), InGrid,which took into account the needs and preferences of musicians with cerebral palsy. Via a set of participatory and iterative design studies, the features of musicians’ control gestures were investigated for potential control dimensions, culminating in a hardware design that affords accessibility through its ergonomic features and mapping strategy.

The mapping strategy in particular affords independent access to a range of performance-control modalities (timbre, tempo, pitch and amplitude nuance) that are frequently only accessible to musicians with this condition through off-line facilitated processes.

InGrid was shortlisted for the Margaret Guthman prize at Georgia Tech in 2014.

Brendan McCloskey InGrid tangible digital musical instrument

InGrid: the accessible, inclusive digital musical instrument by Brendan McCloskey

You can read more about InGrid and see it in action in an informal jam at the Drake Music blog.

Ricky Graham (completed 2012): Currently co-founder at Delta Sound Labs, USA |  Project title: Expansion of Electronic Guitar Performance Practice through the Application and Development of Interactive Digital Music Systems | Web:

One of the key innovations of this project applied tonal syntax models from Lerdahl (2001; Lerdahl and Krumhansl, 2007) to the control of spatialisation via a boids (Reynolds, 1987) flocking algorithm. This part of the system is demonstrated in the video below.

This performance system continues to be extended, see current research.

Tonal–to–spatial mappings

N.B. Skip to 13’30 onwards in the video if you want to jump straight to the final boids tonal syntax mapping.