Job title: Professor (Personal Chair of Music and Technology), Music

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2428


Office address: 3.04 Alison House

Contact time: Monday, 9am-11am

Research outputs: Prof Peter Nelson on Edinburgh Research Explorer

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, developed a research group in Music Informatics, and was one of the initiators of the Institute for Music in Human and Social development (IMHSD).

Peter is also editor of the international journal, Contemporary Music Review published by Routledge.

Peter is not currently involved in undergraduate teaching.

Recent publications include:

'Music and the Illusion of Form.' Routledge Companion to Music and Modern Literature. (forthcoming)

'Territories of Music.' Recherche Sémiotique/Semiotic Inquiry, 36(3) / 37 (1-2), 2018. pp. 27-38.

Recent presentations include: 

'Speech Acts and Music Acts: intentionality in language and music.' Music & Language 2019. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and the Lilian Voudouri Music Library of Greece. 03-04 October 2019.

'Polyphonic Conversations.' Improtech 2019, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, Greece, 26-29 September 2019.

The Philosophy of Rhythm: Relation and Temporality in Music. Invited panel at the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group Conference, King's College London, UK, 11 - 12 July 2019.

'Rhythm and Resistance.' Music and Materialisms Symposium, Visconti Studio, Kingston University London, 23 February 2019.

Recent Performances:

In the Making IV. Dance Base National Centre for Dance, Edinburgh. August 2019.

Limology: Swell – Flight – Limbo, for percussion ensemble. Music for nomadas, part of the Contemporary Nomads project of Henry Daniels. Commissioned by Cambridge Music Conference. Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theater, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver. September 28-29, 2018.


Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Not accepting applications.

  • Cognitive sciences
  • Composition
  • Computational
  • Contemporary
  • Electroacoustic
  • Philosophy
  • Sonic art
  • Technology
  • Twentieth century
  • Twenty-first century