Jonty Harrison

Colleges, School and Institutes


I studied piano and horn (National Youth Orchestra, British Youth Symphony Orchestra) before going to the University of York in 1970. At York, I studied composition with Bernard Rands, David Blake and Elisabeth Lutyens, gaining my DPhil in Composition in 1980 and discovering the electroacoustic music studio along the way. Between 1976 and 1980 I lived in London, preparing electroacoustic material for a number of productions at the National Theatre and teaching studio techniques at City University. In 1980 I joined the Music Department of the University of Birmingham, where I founded BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) in 1982.

As a composer I have received a number of prizes (Bourges International Electroacoustic Awards; Prix Ars Electronica, Linz; Musica Nova, Prague; the Lloyds Bank National Composers' Award; the PRS Prize; an Arts Council Composition Bursary; a Leverhulme Research Grant and AHRB/AHRC Research Grants), and received commissions from leading institutions and performers (Ina-GRM, Paris; GMEB, Bourges; the International Computer Music Association; MAFILM/Magyar Rádió, Budapest; Electroacoustic Wales/University of Bangor; IRCAM/Ensemble InterContemporain, Paris; BBC; Sonorities Festival, Belfast; Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Fine Arts Brass Ensemble; Singcircle; Thürmchen Ensemble; John Harle; Harry Sparnaay; and Jos Zwaanenburg).

My music is regularly performed and broadcast worldwide, and several works are available on commercial releases (see Publications, below).

Research interests

My primary research area is composition, especially of acousmatic electroacoustic music, including its performance practice, history and aesthetics. I have a particular interest in spatial strategies in the composition and performance of acousmatic music and most of my work since the late 90s has been in multichannel formats.

A secondary research interest is in the development of software tools for multichannel composition and performance. I was Co-investigator on the AHRC-funded research project led by my colleague Dr Scott Wilson into the control of large loudspeaker systems.