Job title: Senior Lecturer, Music


Office address: Room 2.17, ECA Fire Station

Research outputs: Dr Nikki Moran on Edinburgh Research Explorer

I am Senior Lecturer in Music. My work examines the social situation of musical performance and spans critical, theoretical and empirical research involving elite North Indian instrumentalists, jazz and free improvisers, and western classical ensembles and conductors.

My latest publications include articles on musical mind and imagination for Music & Science (SAGE) and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association (Cambridge Core), and a forthcoming interdisciplinary chapter co-written with two prior PhD students, ‘Interaction in Indian music: Connections and critical reflection’. For an idea of my current projects, follow Related Links below.

I led the four-year undergraduate MA Music (Hons) programme until 2022, with outstanding overall student satisfaction ratings (NSS 2021, 2022). This curriculum and course design project connected many issues in my research: to do with the role of conventional music literacy in HE and music scholarship, access and opportunity in music education, and critical approaches to scientific and public discourse around music.

I am lead author and presenter of the University of Edinburgh Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Fundamentals of Music Theory, engaging 300000 active learners and recruiting around 500 new students per week. My teaching practice is recognised as outstanding by a EUSA Best Course award and successive Teaching Award nominations.

External appointments include national and international grant awards boards, and programme examination posts at Sheffield University (PG) and currently Queens’ University Belfast (UG). I am President of the International Society for Interdisciplinary Musicology, and recently completed a term as co-Chair of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland. I am an Associate Editor of the Journal, Psychology of Music, and Editorial Board member of Musicæ Scientiæ, the journal of ESCOM (European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music).

Current and recent teaching

Presenting lecturer and co-author of the 'Fundamentals of Music Theory' MOOC, hosted by Coursera.

  • Fundamentals of Music Theory (UG) *
  • Music and Human Communication (UG) *
  • Creative Practice Music Project  (UG)
  • Dissertation supervision (UG)
  • Introduction to Musicology (PG)
  • Music, Style, Identity and Image in the Modern Age *  (UG) [EUSA Teaching Award 'Best Course' overall winner, 2017]

* Course Organiser

Blog posts and video presentations

** From Appleby-Donald and Moran (2020), ‘Critical approaches to the hidden curriculum with hybrid learning in music’, University of Edinburgh Learning and Teaching Conference, June 25, 2020.

My research explores the relationship between musical performance and everyday social interaction. I'm motivated by what we can learn about music when we focus specifically on its manifestation as performance - as human communication. And vice-versa: what this type of pragmatic and interdisciplinary approach can reveal about social minds, life and behaviour. I’m particularly interested in the ethical and inclusive possibilities of 4E cognition when this approach is brought to bear on the study of musical performance. (See editorial to the new Special Issue on ‘Embodiment in Music’, Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, Schiavio & Moran, 2021).

I’m currently exploring how dominant – typically ethnocentric – values of musical practice and listening come to interact with ideas about music in scientific discourse and academic settings more broadly. I'm co-convening the next international Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM22) on the topic 'Participation' in order to develop work around these issues, which have critical implications for music education.

Previously, my doctoral research with elite North Indian musicians combined methods of ethnography and video analysis. My subsequent 'Improvising Duos' project was funded through awards from British Academy and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and facilitated by resources of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig. We used motion capture to record duo improvisations by jazz and free improvising musician duos. Findings from our original experiment are reported in PLoSONE, 'Perception of 'back-channeling' nonverbal feedback in musical duo improvisation' (Moran et al. 2015). This project also generated an original dataset of kinematic and audio recordings, published in DataShare (Moran & Keller, 2016). Related research developed as part of my Visiting Fellowship on the AHRC project, Interpersonal Entrainment in Musical Performance (2016-18) at Durham University, UK.

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

Currently welcoming proposals which align with the Musical Situations reading and discussion group.