Peter Nelson is Professor of Music and Technology, and is a composer and theorist. He is currently interested in the social aspects of rhythm. His compositional output includes chamber, choral, orchestral and electronic music, with commissions from many leading performers and ensembles including the BBC, Radio France, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Edinburgh Quartet and the Dunedin Consort.
Peter studied English Literature and Music at Glasgow University, continuing his studies at the University of Edinburgh and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also studied composition with György Ligeti, and conducting with George Hurst and Peter Eötvos. Through the 1980's he worked closely with the composer, Iannis Xenakis and his UPIC computer music system, composing a number of works for the UPIC and touring extensively with les Ateliers UPIC. He was lecturer, and Director of the Electronic Music Studio at the universities of Glasgow and Nottingham, before joining the University of Edinburgh in 1986, where he established the electronic music studios, and developed a research group in Music Informatics.
Recent published outputs include articles in leading refereed journals, and book chapters, “Towards a Social Theory of Rhythm.” (In J.-L. Leroy (ed.), Actualités des Universaux en Musique / Topics in Universals in Music. Paris, France: Edition des Archives Contemporaines) and "Performing the UPIC system of Iannis Xenakis." (In S. Kanach (ed.), Performing Xenakis. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press.) Recent compositions include Lost Landscapes, for ensemble, commissioned by the Hebrides Ensemble, and Letters, for oboe and harp, Commissioned by Spinnerei Festival, Dresden.
Peter is also editor of the international journal, Contemporary Music Review published by Routledge.
Peter teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Orchestration and Composition, and contributes to teaching in Music Technology. He is currently teaching the honours course, Arnold Schoenberg and the Emancipation of Music, looking at contemporary reception of Schoenberg’s music and ideas.