Raymond MacDonald profile picture

Job title:

Chair of Music Psychology and Improvisation, Music


Programme Director, BMus (Hons) Music


​After completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, investigating therapeutic applications of music, Raymond worked as Artistic Director for a music company, Sounds of Progress, specialising in working with people who have special needs.  He joined the School of Music in 2012 having worked at Glasgow Caledonian University previously. Between 2012 and 2013 he was Director of Postgraduate Studies and was Head of The School of Music between 2013 and 2016.  As well as working as a saxophonist and composer he is also a Chartered Health Psychologist and has published over 70 papers and co-edited five texts:  Musical Identities (2002) and Musical Communication (2005) Music Health and Wellbeing (2012), Musical Imaginations (2012), and The Handbook of Musical Identities (2017).   His ongoing research focuses on issues relating to improvisation, psychology of music, music health and wellbeing, musical identities and music education.  His work includes studying the processes and outcomes of music participation and music listening

As a saxophonist and composer his work is informed by a view of improvisation as a social, collaborative and uniquely creative process that provides opportunities to develop new ways of working musically. Collaborating with musicians such as Evan Parker, David Byrne, Jim O'Rourke and Marilyn Crispell, he has released over 50 CDs and toured and broadcast worldwide. He has produced music for film, television, theatre and art installations and is a founder member of Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. He has a particular interest in cross disciplinary collaboration and has extensive experience of working with artists and filmmakers. A recent Creative Scotland Award has allowed him to develop an innovative collaborative project with Tuner prize winning artist Martin Boyce and Oscar nominated filmmaker David MacKenzie that experiments with new forms of performative work that adapts to gallery, concert hall and cinema spaces.​

Top image credit: Mhairi Muir 


  • Music 1A Music in Social Contexts
  • Inventing 1
  • Dissertation in Music
  • Psychology of Music
  • MMus Research Methods B


  • Music - MA
  • Music - PhD/MSc by Research
  • Musical Composition - PhD
  • Creative Music Practice - PhD


​Ongoing research focuses on issues relating to improvisation, composition, psychology of music, music health and wellbeing, musical identities and music education.  My research includes studying the processes and outcomes of music participation and music listening.

MacDonald R.A.R, Miell D & Hargreaves D.J.  EDS (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Musical Identities Oxford: Oxford University Press​

Wilson, G. & MacDonald, R. (2017)  The construction of meaning within free improvising groups: a qualitative psychological investigation Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity & The Arts  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000075

MacDonald R.A.R &. Wilson, G.B. (2016).  Billy Connolly, Daniel Barenboim, Willie Wonka, Jazz Bastards and the universality of improvisation In G. Lewis  & Ben Piekut (Eds.),  Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies.  New York: Oxford University Press

Mitchell, H. F. & MacDonald, R. A. R. (2016). What you see is what you hear: The importance of visual priming in music performer identification Psychology of Music 44(6) 1361-1371,  doi: 10.1177/0305735616628658

Tamplin, J. & Baker, F.A., Rickard, N., Roddy, C, & MacDonald, R. (2015). A theoretical framework and therapeutic songwriting protocol to promote integration of self-concept in people with acquired neurological injuries. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, pp. 1-23. Doi.10.1080/08098131.2015.1011208. published on line 13/3/2015. 

Wilson, G. B., & MacDonald, R. A. R. (2015). Musical choices during group free improvisation: A qualitative psychological investigation. Psychology of Music. doi: 10.1177/0305735615606527

MacDonald, R and Wilson, G. (2014) Improvisation, health and welling: A review Psychology of Well-Being   Psychology of Well-Being 4(20)   doi:10.1186/s13612-014-0020-9   http://www.psywb.com/content/4/1/20


Morphometry Lol Coxhill & Raymond MacDonald Glospot records (2017)  

Cast of Thousands (2016)  Creative Sources (2016)

Travelog Sensaround HelloSquare records (2016)

Exhibition and public workshops

Ganter, J., MacDonald, R. and Crispell, M. (2017) Drawing Sound installation of graphic scores at The Kleinert James Center for the Arts (Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild), USA. August 25 – October 8, 2017 

Concurrent #3 – Exchanges Through Improvisation 19th February - 25th February 2017 Tate Liverpool

Grant funding

MacDonald, R.A.R and Wilson G (2017-2018) Scottish Government, Social Innovation Fund, Community Music Workshops for Social Integration among Individuals with Impairments £41,993

Wilson, G. & MacDonald, R. (2015-2017) Concurrent: exploring improvisation between performing arts practitioners £19,984 Royal Society of Edinburgh 


Current PhD students

Pauline Black

Exploring jazz and improvisation in UK secondary schools

Santiago Niño Morales

FARC Musicians' Musical Identities and Political Identities through their Music. Analysis of their Narratives, Musical Practices and Songs in the Colombian Peace Post-Agreement.

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Cognitive sciences
  • Community
  • Composition
  • Contemporary
  • Empirical
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Improvisation
  • Instrument research
  • Music and health
  • Music for screen (TV/Film/Game)
  • Musical development
  • Performance
  • Psychology
  • Sonic art
  • Twenty-first century

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