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Professor Paul Whitty

Professor of Composition

School of Arts

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Paul Whitty

Paul is Professor of Composition and a Director of the Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU). He is Research Lead for the School of Arts and is chair of the TDE Grants Panel.

Paul teaches composition and sound arts on the BA (hons) Music, MA Music and MA Sound Arts programmes.


Paul supervises PhD students in experimental compositional processes, sound arts and field recording. PhD theses supervised recently include:

Malcolm Atkins The development of compositional method within the context of the Anglo-American experimental music tradition

Patrick Farmer Listening, a correspondence

Felicity Ford The Domestic Soundscape

Daniel Goren Applications of Natural Physical Phenomena as Models in Compositional Practice

Elizabeth Heighway Sounding Severn

Shirley Pegna Sound Transit

Austin Sherlaw-Johnson What use is music in an ocean of sound

Sam Thomas The Bass Guitar in Contemporary Composition






Paul is a composer and sound artist who spends a lot of his time making field recordings and intervening in pre-exisiting musical scores and contexts. His interests include site-specific practice; the use of found materials; field recording; verbal scores and improvisation.

Research group membership

Paul is a founder member of the Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU).

Research grants and awards

His work has been supported by ACE, AHRC, British Academy, Britten-Pears Foundation, Cross-River Partnerships, RVW Trust and Tate.

Research projects

somewhere a field (2013-2017)

Make an effort to exhaust the subject, even if that seems grotesque, or pointless, or stupid. You still haven’t looked at anything, you’ve merely picked out what you’ve long ago picked out.

(Georges Perec; Species of Spaces; 1974)

somewhere a field is a research project exploring the soundscape, and the use of sound-making devices, in a rural site in the parish of Netherexe, Devon. The former border between the Hundreds of Wonford and Highridge runs across the site, and is now the boundary between the Parishes of Netherexe to the North and Brampford Speke to the South. The site consists of five fields and an area known as 'rough marsh' that runs next to the River Exe. The fields are bordered by the river on three sides and even on a casual inspection it is possible to see evidence of the changing course of the river with old river beds and disused channels. You can also see culverts cutting through the embankment of a disused railway line and providing evidence of former streams and tributary channels of the Exe. You can find out more about the project here.


Get Rid! or the sounding cultures of grassroots football (2016-2018)

This is a project that has grown out of my engagement with grassroots football in Oxfordshire. Without a particular plan or framework in mind I have been making sound recordings of my experiences as a youth team coach; as a spectator at matches in the North Berks and other local grassroots adult leagues; as a groundsman marking out pitches; and as a member of a club committee. Grassroots Football refers to football played by amateur football clubs at youth and adult level so I won’t be visiting Didcot Town any time soon – other than for entertainment – as they are too far up the league pyramid.
During the course of the project I have become fascinated by the transformation of quiet parish council run local parks into sites of conflict and exuberant communication. Recordings of these sites will become an integral part of the project – both before, during and after matches. The presence of the marked white lines of the pitch; the goalposts stacked against the pavilion or standing on the pitch in their sockets bereft of their nets; and the grass free zones of the goalmouths and touchlines – where the tread of goalkeepers and assistant referees has been at its most intense; are symbols of the latent soundscapes of frustration, victory, defeat, elation, failure and success immanent in these sites. You can find out more about the project here.

Research impact

The Sound Diaries project (2008-2017) developed with sound artist Felicity Ford was one of the Impact Case Studies submitted to the last reserach assessment carried out by HEFCE (REF2014). You can visit the website here and find out more about the impact of the project here. Sound Diaries is a field recording project that explores our everyday lives through sound.

Further information

Membership of professional bodies

Paul is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Further information

Twitter: @paul_whitty