Professor Eric Clarke

Heather Professor of Music; Professorial Fellow, Wadham College

BA, MA (Sussex), PhD (Exeter)


Research interests in the psychology of music, particularly the psychology of performance, rhythm perception and production, and the application of ecological theory to music perception; analysis of pop music; aesthetics and semiotics of music; history and analysis of recordings.


Eric Clarke went to the University of Sussex to read for a degree in neurobiology and graduated with a degree in music. After an MA in music, he was awarded a PhD in psychology from the University of Exeter, and became lecturer in music at City University in London in 1981. He was appointed as James Rossiter Hoyle Professor of Music at Sheffield in 1993, and took up the post of Heather Professor of Music at the University of Oxford in October 2007. Professor Clarke is an Associate Editor of the journals Music Perception and Musicae Scientiae, is on the editorial boards of Empirical Musicology Review, Radical Musicology, and Per Musi; and is a consulting editor for Psychology of Music. He was an Associate Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council´s Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) from 2004-2007, is an Associate Director (2009-2014) of the AHRC Phase II Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP), is on the Advisory Council of the Institute of Musical Research (IMR), and was elected to membership of the Academia Europaea in 2009.

His research and teaching cover a number of areas within the psychology of music, music theory, and musical aesthetics/semiotics. He is the author of a monograph on listening (Ways of Listening. An Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Meaning OUP, 2005), co-author with former colleagues Nicola Dibben and Stephanie Pitts of Music and Mind in Everyday Life (OUP, 2010), co-editor with with David Clarke (Newcastle University) of Music and Consciousness (OUP, 2011), co-editor with colleagues from CHARM of the Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (CUP, 2009), and co-editor with Nicholas Cook of Empirical Musicology. Aims, Methods, Prospects (OUP, 2004). He has published widely in journal articles and book chapters on topics including expression in performance, the perception and production of rhythm, musical meaning, the relationships between music and language, the analysis of pop music, the history and aesthetics of recorded music, and music and the body.

Current projects include: Musical Subjectivities, a monograph based on lectures delivered at the British Library in 2008-9 as the Royal Holloway-British Library Distinguished Lectures in Musicology; and a three year research project (2011-14) on collaborative creativity in contemporary concert music as part of CMPCP.

He has supervised doctoral students on a wide variety of topics, including music and film, expression in performance, synaesthesia, the perception of electroacoustic music, perceptual theories of atonal music, the psychology of the recording studio, the perception of musical metre, music and consciousness, music and parapsychology, psychological processes in sight-reading, metaphors of embodiment in string playing, and embodiment and pleasure in groove-based music.


Final report from AHRC-funded Cultural Value project: ‘Music, Empathy, and Cultural Understanding’

Music and Consciousness. Philosophical, Psychological and Cultural Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. (Co-editor with David Clarke)
Music and Mind in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. (Co-author with Nicola Dibben and Stephanie Pitts)

The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. (Co-editor with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and John Rink)

Ways of Listening. An Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Meaning. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Music, Space and Subjectivity. In G. Born (Ed.) Music, Sound and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience Cambridge University Press, 2013, 90-110

Creativity in performance. In: D. Hargreaves, D. Miell, and R. MacDonald (Eds), Musical Imaginations: Multidisciplinary perspectives on creativity, performance and perception Oxford University Press, 2012, 17-30

What’s Going On: Music, Psychology and Ecological Theory. In M. Clayton, T. Herbert & R. Middleton (Eds.): The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction. Second Edition. Routledge, 2012, 333-342. 

Making and hearing virtual worlds: John Culshaw and the art of record production. Musicae Scientiae, 11 (2007), 269-293 (co-author with David Patmore).

Interpretation and performance in Bryn Harrison´s être-temps. Musicae Scientiae, 9 (2005), 31-74 (with N. Cook, B. Harrison and P. Thomas)

Click here for a full list of publications





Professor Eric F. Clarke
Faculty of Music,
St Aldate’s,
Oxford OX1 1DB

Tel.: +44 (0)1865 276137