Simon Emmerson (composer)

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Simon Emmerson
Simon T. Emmerson

(1950-09-15)15 September 1950
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known forElectroacoustic music composer working mostly with live electronics

Simon Emmerson is an electroacoustic music composer working mostly with live electronics. He was born in Wolverhampton, UK, on 15 September 1950.

Since November 2004 Emmerson has been professor in music technology and innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, following 28 years as director of the Electroacoustic Music studios at City University, London. His catalogue now spans 35 years, including commissions for Intermodulation, Singcircle, Option Band, Lontano, Jane Manning, Philip Mead, Jane Chapman amongst many others. He has also completed purely electroacoustic commissions from the IMEB (Bourges), the GRM (Paris) and the Inventionen Festival (Berlin). He was a first prize winner at the Bourges Electroacoustic Awards in 1985 for his work Time Past IV (soprano and tape). He contributed to and edited The Language of Electroacoustic Music in 1986 (still in print) and Music, Electronic Media and Culture (Ashgate, 2000). His book Living Electronic Music was published by Ashgate in 2007, also two solo CDs from Sargasso in 2007 and 2008. He was founder secretary of the Electroacoustic Music Association of Great Britain (EMAS) in 1979, and served on the board of Sonic Arts Network from its inception until 2004. From 2008 to 2012 he was a member of the board of trustees of its successor organisation 'Sound and Music'. In 2009–2010 he was DAAD Edgar Varese Visiting Professor at the Technische Universität Berlin.


  • [1] Dreams, Memories and Landscapes (Continuum CCD1056) (1993)
  • [2] Digswell Duets (Emanem 4052) (2001)
  • [3] Cultures électroniques 15 (Le chant du monde LCD 278074/75) (2001)
  • [4] Spaces and Places (Sargasso SCD28055) (2007)
  • [5] Points and Pathways (Sargasso SCD28060) (2008)


  • The Language of Electroacoustic Music (editor and contributor) (Macmillan, 1986 now Macmillan-Palgrave)
  • Music, Electronic Media and Culture (editor and contributor) (Ashgate, 2000)
  • Living Electronic Music (Ashgate, 2007)
  • '‘Live' versus 'real-time'’, Contemporary Music Review 10(2) (1994): pp. 95–101
  • '‘Local/field': towards a typology of live electroacoustic music', International Computer Music Conference Aarhus, September 1994 (Proceedings: San Francisco: ICMA, 1994: pp. 31–34), reprinted in Journal of Electroacoustic Music (Sonic Arts Network 1996) 9: pp. 10–13
  • ‘Acoustic/Electroacoustic: the Relationship with Instruments’, Journal of New Music Research 27(1–2) (1998), pp. 146–164
  • ‘Aural landscape: musical space’, Organised Sound 3(2) (1998): pp. 135–140
  • Co-author (with Denis Smalley): New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians entry ‘Electroacoustic Music’ (London: Macmillan, 2000)
  • ‘New spaces/new places: a Sound House for the performance of electroacoustic music and sonic art’, Organised Sound 6(2) (2001) pp. 103–105
  • ‘From Dance! To “Dance”: Distance and Digits’, Computer Music Journal, 25(1) (2001), pp. 13–20
  • ‘In what form can live electronic music live on?’ Organised Sound, 11(3) (2006), pp. 209–219
  • ‘Combining the acoustic and the digital: music for instruments and computers or pre-recorded sound’, in Roger T. Dean (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music, OUP, 2009, pp. 167–188
  • ‘Music Imagination Technology’ (Keynote Address), Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference Huddersfield, July–August 2011, San Francisco: ICMA, pp. 365–372
  • Netaudio London & Sound and Music present: Perspectives on Digital Music – 12 interviews with leading practitioners. Simon Emmerson – ‘The future of live computer music’. YouTube –
  • ‘Electroacoustics – The Art of The Next Decade’, The Second Call – contemporary music magazine, Netherlands; Jan. 1984, #1, pp. 21–22. Translation to Russian.

Selected works[edit]

  • Spirit of '76 (flute, accelerating delay) (1976)
  • Lol Coxhill & Simon Emmerson: Digswell Duets (soprano saxophone, electronics) (1978) [2]
  • Ophelia's Dream (voices, live electronics) (1978–79) [1]
  • Time Past IV (soprano, electroacoustic sound) (1984) [1, 3]
  • Piano Piece IV (piano, electroacoustic sound) (1985) [1]
  • Shades (of Night and Day) (piano, live electronics) (1989) [1]
  • Pathways (flute, cello, sitar, tablas, keyboard, electronics) (1989) [5]
  • Sentences (soprano, live electronics) (1991) [4]
  • Points of Departure (harpsichord, live electronics) (1993) [5]
  • Points of Continuation (electroacoustic sound) (1997) [5]
  • Points of Return (kayagum, live electronics) (1998) [5]
  • Fields of Attraction (string quartet, live electronics) (1997) [4]
  • Frictions (electroacoustic sound) (1999)
  • Five Spaces (electric cello, sound projection) (1999) [4]
  • Time-Space (baroque flute, harpsichord, live electronics) (2001) [5]
  • Arenas (piano, brass quintet, live electronics) (2003) [4]
  • Resonances (electroacoustic sound) (2007)
  • Stringscape (violin, electronics) (2010)
  • Memory Machine (multichannel electroacoustic sound) (2010)


  • Ten Hoopen, Christiane (1992), 'Simon Emmerson', entry in Contemporary Composers, Chicago: St James Press, pp. 267–268.
  • Chapman, Jane (2000), ‘Points of Departure: An Interview with Simon Emmerson’, Contemporary Music Review 19(4), pp. 39–47.
  • Montague, Stephen (2001), ‘Emmerson, Simon’ entry, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Stanley Sadie, ed.), Vol.8 (Egypt to Flor), London: Macmillan Publishers, pp. 188–189.
  • Gibbs, Tony (2007), ‘Simon Emmerson’, in Chapter 2 (‘Artists and their work’), The Fundamentals of Sonic Art & Sound Design, Lausanne: AVA Publishing, pp. 62–65.
  • Palmer, John (2009), ‘Spaces and Places: an Interview with Simon Emmerson’, Tempo Vol. 63 (No. 247) (January 2009), pp. 19–23.

External links[edit]