Category Archives: Publications

Children’s Book Launch at the British Library

On Thursday May 30th, The Phoenix of Persia children’s book was launched at the British Library in London.

This picture book is the culmination of a two year collaboration between the Music Department at City, University of London and children’s publisher Tiny Owl

Based on a tale from the 10th-century epic poem, the Shahnameh, by Iran’s national poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE), the book tells the story of Prince Zal, born albino and abandoned by his family as a baby, who is found and raised by the wise and magical Simorgh bird. At the end of the story, Zal is reunited with his family. The aim of the book is to introduce British children to Iranian storytelling, music, instruments, culture and history. With its many topical themes of understanding and valuing difference, and of the importance of forgiveness, this is an ideal story for a book aimed at promoting greater cultural understanding.

The project was initiated by Professor Laudan Nooshin and builds on her earlier project with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012-12 It is very much about promoting a different and more positive image of Iran than children might otherwise receive through the mainstream media and elsewhere.

The book’s soundtrack introduces children to Iranian instruments, with each character of the story represented by a different instrument. The original music was composed and performed by: Nilufar Habibian (qanun, plucked zither), Saeid KordMafi (santur, hammered dulcimer), Amir Eslami (nei, end-blown reed flute) and Arash Moradi (tanbur, long-necked lute).

City Music PhD student Soosan Lolavar, was the Creative Producer and Assistant Editor, and the music was mixed, mastered and edited by Julius Johansson and other students in the sound studios at City (Malhar Kawre, Mara Miron, Olivia Cepress-Mclean).

The story was adapted by Sally Pomme Clayton, who also narrates the soundtrack, and beautifully illustrated by Amin Hassanzadeh Sharif. Ideal for children aged 6 to 11, the book can be purchased here:

As well as the book, the project includes educational resources for key stage 2 children and Laudan and Nilufar have been leading school workshops around the project.

The book has received many positive reviews, including the following:

Photos from the launch:

Tullis Rennie releases new record ‘Muscle Memory’

Muscle Memory is a new record by composer Tullis Rennie, featuring two recently composed sound pieces made in collaboration with Matthew Bourne and Graham South.

The new release was recently described by The Wire Magazine as “a piece of meta art; an album about listening to music”.

The record is part autobiographic docu-music, part jazz-inspired dreamscape. It is available as a limited numbered vinyl only release from November 2017.

Each recording begins on the sofa in the house of a collaborator. Tullis joins Matthew in his idyllic Yorkshire hilltop live-in studio, and  Graham in his Manchester red-brick front room. From ‘listening-in’ to chat in these domestic spaces, we then float into abstract realms of electronic textures and improvised musical conversations between each pair.

The release was recently celebrated with a series of intimate listening parties held in living rooms in London, Hasting, Brighton and Manchester.

Dr Simon Waters, in a Contemporary Music Review article discussing the work, writing:

“Muscle Memory begins to answer questions about how one work can comment on and analyse or critique another through its own agency as music. It also demonstrates how a work can marshal autobiography and ethnography to illuminate the human capacity to manipulate and be manipulated by musical activity. It explicitly engages multiple modes of listening and points of view: documentary ‘field’ recordist; participant observer; soundscape composer; ‘amateur’ musicologist and music lover; DJ and remix artist; spectromorphological composer—and allows the listener to explore different modes of listening through these multiple and nested points of view such that this becomes the primary formal concern. The listening home (the point of view) is contingent and transitory as we move through the scant twelve and a half minutes of the piece, so the listener is constantly becoming re-involved with, and made conscious of, the act of listening”

Waters, S. (2015) ‘Tullis Rennie’s Muscle Memory : Listening to the Act of Listening’ Contemporary Music Review 34(1), pp.22–32.


Miguel Mera Publishes New Book

Reader in the Department of Music, Dr Miguel Mera, has published a new book, The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound. Co-edited with Ronald Sadoff and Ben Winters this  volume provides a detailed and comprehensive examination of screen music and sound studies, addressing the ways in which music and sound interact with forms of narrative media such as television, videogames, and film.

Reviewers comments:  

“It would be difficult to imagine a more wide-ranging or more skilfully assembled collection of essays on the richly varied subject of screen music and sound than this magnificent book.”

“It heralds a re-thinking of what is studied and how: a must-have collection for aficionados of music and sound on screen.”


Laudan Nooshin Wins Book Prize

Dr Laudan Nooshin, Reader in the Department of Music, has been awarded the 2016 British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) Book Prize for her monograph, Iranian Classical Music: The Discourse and Practice of Creativity (Ashgate, 2015). This prestigious prize is awarded every two years in recognition of outstanding scholarship in the field of ethnomusicology – the study of music in cultural contexts.

Iranian Classical Music is a study of musical creativity. It explores the ways in which musicians and others in Iran talk about creativity and the processes by which new music comes into being. As well as seeking to understand the relationship between discourse and practice, this is the first book to examine how ideas about tradition, authenticity, innovation and modernity form part of wider social discourses on musical creativity in Iranian music, most notably in relation to debates on national and cultural identity.

Dr Laudan Nooshin

Dr Nooshin (above right) said: “I’m honoured and delighted to receive this award. The research for the book started almost 30 years ago so it has been a very long journey – and this is such a nice way for my part of the journey to end. The book will hopefully continue its own journey as it is read by others! Of course, I have many people to thank, including the amazing musicians without whom the book wouldn’t have been possible, the publishing team at Ashgate, my wonderful colleagues, peers and senior scholars for their support and encouragement, and above all my family.”

Dr Amanda Villepastour from Cardiff University (above left) also received a commendation for her book The Yorùbá God of Drumming: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Wood that Talks.

The BFE prize committee said Dr Nooshin’s book was a unanimous choice for the award, which carries a £100 prize. The BFE said: “Iranian Classical Music is the product of a long journey from PhD to recent research, revisited in the light of post-colonial theory, and interrogates many aspects of theory through the lens of the study of musicians and their practices. It aims to understand musical creativity as meaningful social practice, to find an approach through Iranian creative practice that overcomes the composition/improvisation dualism and undoes the logic of alterity.

“As well as the detailed engagement and analysis of Iranian music, this monograph is located within a theoretical discourse that includes issues relevant to all ethnomusicological research, including a critique of binaries (ethno/musicology, West/East, folk/art, us/them, individual/collective), connections between musical and linguistic cognitive processes, music/linguistic grammars, the motor/body creative impetus, and defining terminology when moving between languages. “The structure of the book is clear and logical and the notational examples are fully supported with an included CD. The writing style is very clear, dealing with complex issues and explaining them, showing great awareness of issues of language and communication with a wide readership.”

Iranian Classical Music book cover

Dr Nooshin recently published two book chapters relating to her ongoing research on Iranian popular music and culture. The chapters are: Jazz and its Social Meanings in Iran: From Cultural Colonialism to the Universal, in the book Jazz Worlds/World Jazz; and Discourses of Religiosity in Post-1998 Iranian Popular Music, in Islam and Popular Culture.

The Middle East in London Magazine Features City Staff and Student

The Middle East in London magazine is published five times a year by the London Middle East Institute at the School or Oriental and African Studies. The February/March 2016 issue is a special issue on Iranian music and features articles by City lecturer Dr Laudan Nooshin and PhD student Roya Arab, as well as a review of Laudan’s 2015 book Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity (Ashgate Press) by Stefan Williamson Fa.

Laudan’s article ‘Sounding the City: Tehran’s Contemporary Soundscapes’ is based on her recent field trip to Iran in August/ September 2015 and explores the relationship between sound and the urban environment as a means of understanding individuals’ engagement with the sensory sound-worlds that they inhabit. Roya’s article – ‘Swaying to Persian and Middle Eastern Tunes in London’ – offers a snapshot of Iranian and Middle Eastern music in London.

Pdfs of the two articles and book review are available below.

Nooshin, MEIL article Jan 2016

Roya Arab Middle East in London Magazine Article (Jan 2016)

Review of Laudan Nooshin, Iranian Classical Music, MEIL Jan 2016

PhD Alumni News from Mark Porter

Mark Porter, who completed his doctorate at City in 2014, has been awarded postdoctoral funding to pursue research at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies in Erfurt, Germany. His project, entitled “Axes of Resonance in Christian Congregational Music”, builds on the work of Hartmut Rosa, Jean-Luc Nancy and Veit Erlmann, among others, in order to explore sonic and social concepts of resonance in relation to congregational singing. Mark is interested, in particular, in the potential for concepts of resonance to supplement ideas of authenticity, which has become an increasingly stretched analytical category in recent writing, and for research on congregational music to help to explore conceptual travelling between metaphorical and literal usages of ‘resonance’ in the literature. He is the first musicologist to be accepted at Max Weber, and whilst there he will engage in interdisciplinary dialogue with scholars from a wide range of contemporary and historical areas of social and cultural enquiry.

Since graduating, Mark has obtained a book contract with Ashgate publishing in order to publish his doctoral research in monograph format. The book, entitled “Contemporary Worship Music and Everyday Musical Lives” is due out in 2016 and will appear in Ashgate’s Congregational Music Studies series. An article focusing on Mark’s investigation of marginal musical spaces at St Aldates, Oxford, meanwhile, has also been accepted for publication in the Journal of Contemporary Religion. His previous article “The Developing Field of Christian Congregational Music Studies”, published in the journal Ecclesial Practices, has proved remarkably popular and, since publication has received over 1,500 downloads.

Mark has continued to be active in organising the biennial Christian congregational music: local and global perspectives conference at Cuddesdon, outside Oxford ( The conference, which met for the third time over the summer, has now become an established institution, and has even received its own entry in the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Earlier in the year Mark also received an invitation to speak at Oxford University’s Music and Theology seminar on the relationship between ethnomusicology and theology – a paper he hopes to work up for publication over the course of the next year.


New publication by PhD student Miranda Crowdus


PhD student Miranda Crowdus has published a chapter in the new book Boundaries, Identity and Belonging in Modern Judaism (Routledge). The work is a collection of interdisciplinary scholarship relating to contemporary Jewish identity. Miranda’s chapter explores negotiations of Jewishness at recent Palestinian Hip Hop performances in the Tel Aviv-Yafo underground.

Gramophone names Passion Week an August Editor’s Choice

The latest recording by City Reader in Music Alexander Lingas and his US-based ensemble Cappella Romana has been named an Editor’s Choicesteinberg_passion_week in the August issue of Gramophone, which features a rave review of the disc by Malcolm Riley:

This important and exciting release from the Portland, Oregon-based 26-strong chamber choir is a notable successor to their ‘Good Friday in Jerusalem’ disc (5/15). Under their inspiring director Alexander Lingas they turn their attention to a recently rediscovered choral gem, the 47-minute long Passion Week by the Lithuanian-born composer Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946). 

… The a cappella textures spread variously and luxuriantly into 12 parts, requiring, as might be expected, the sopranos to soar with jewel-like brilliance and the basses to delve to their reedy subterranean depths. Cappella Romana cope with all of this with an eloquent brilliance, singing with tremendous relish, as though this obscure masterpiece had been in their repertory for years. Their unanimity of attack and fastidious approach to dynamic contrasts are just two hallmarks of an outstanding achievement. Hats off, too, to Preston Smith and Steve Barnett for their superb engineering and production. …the finest advocacy from these fine musicians. This is definitely a disc to savour. 

Read the full review here.

City Hosts Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum

On Friday 22nd May 2015, the Music Department hosted the Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum. This forum has been running twice a year since 2007 under the auspices of the Institute of Musical Research, but has recently moved its base to City. The Forum provides a meeting point for students, researchers and others interested in the musics and culture of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The day was a great success with about 70 people in attendance and a lively atmosphere with plenty of positive feedback and stimulating discussion after papers and in between in lunch and coffee breaks. There were 10 speakers altogether, including both research students and academics from across the UK and abroad. Highlights of the day included presentations by two City PhD students, Steve Wilford and Sam Mackay, whose papers were entitled: ‘Between Thames and Sahara: Representations of Algerian Music in Contemporary London’ and ‘A Shared History? North African Musical Heritage and the Public Sphere in Contemporary Marseille’. Other papers covered such diverse topics as female musicians in Afghanistan and Kuwaiti ṣaut music.

The main conference was followed by a book launch for Laudan Nooshin’s recently published Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity (2015, Ashgate Press) and an evening concert which opened the City Summer Sounds Music Festival: ‘Sounds of the Bosphorous Today’ with sisters Neva and Yelda Özgen from Istanbul playing traditional and contemporary pieces on kemençe (bowed fiddle) and ‘cello.

Abstracts and biographies of speakers can be downloaded here:,-Friday-22nd-May-2015,-City-University-London.pdf

More details on the concert:

More details on Laudan’s book:

More details on the day:


Ahmad AlSalhi (Royal Holloway University of London) talking about the history of ṣaut music in Kuwait


Veronica Doubleday (Visiting Fellow, Goldsmiths University of London) talking about female musicians in Afghanistan

Current and former City students enjoying the tea break


Book launch for Laudan Nooshin's new book

Book launch for Laudan Nooshin’s new book

Alex de Lacey featured in Songlines magazine

ProfilepicAlexdeLaceyThis month’s issue of Songlines magazine (#108) featured one of our Masters student’s guide to the world’s best festivals. Following a successful internship for Songlines in 2013, Alex de Lacey has been regularly contributing reviews and columns to the publication, but this is his first full feature to be published. It builds upon our strong relationship with the highly regarded world music magazine, with many of our students completing internships with them as part of our Professional Placement programmes offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

You can purchase the new issue from participating retailers or direct from the Songlines website: