Dr Rob Mackay

Reader in Music

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

01482 466212

Rob Mackay is an award-winning composer, sound artist and performer.

Recent projects have moved towards a cross-disciplinary approach, including geology, soundscape ecology, theatre, audiovisual installation work and human-computer interaction.

Rob's work has been performed in 18 countries, on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 1 and Radio France, and a number of his pieces have received international awards.

He is director of HEARO (Hull Electroacoustic Resonance Orchestra), editor for Interference, a journal of audio cultures, and is Chair of the UK and Ireland SoundScape Community (UKISC), an affiliate of the World Forum from Acoustic Ecology. He has released several CDs and vinyl records. More information is available at his website.


Research Interests

  • Sonic art

  • Composition

  • Acoustic ecology

  • Ecoacoustics

  • Soundscape studies

  • Interactive technologies

Research groups


Mackay, R., 2015, 'Strata Sequence: From musical rocks to palaeosoundscapes', Divergence Press, Issue 4, 2015, CeReNeM (ISSN 2052-3467)

Mackay, R., Newell, C., Edwards, A., Howard, M., Coates, L., Balentine, B., Jones, K., Barker, P., 2014, 'A Concert for Artificial and Human Voices', Reflections on Process in Sound, Issue 3, 2014, pp 78 – 92, CRISAP

Mackay, R., 2010, 'Equanimity' (composition for clarinet and computer), on Delicate Balance, Clarinet: F. Gerard Errante (audio CD), Aucourant Records, AUREC 1001

Mackay, R., 2007, 'Song of Stones' (composition), on Concours Luc Ferrari – 7e Concours D’Art Radiophonique (audio CD), La Muse en Circuit , MUSE7/1

Mackay, R., 1998, 'Environs' (composition), on International Computer Music Conference 1998 (audio CD), ICMA + ICMC

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Electronic Composition

  • Composing for Spaces and Places

  • Studio Production 2

  • Special Study (supervision)

  • Individual Project (supervision)


  • Technical Skills 1 (supervision)

  • Technical Skills 2 (supervision)

  • Music Studies 1 (supervision)

  • Music Studies 2 (supervision)

  • Special Study (supervision)

Research PhDs

• Sonic art

• Sound art

• Electroacoustic composition

• Sound and place

• Acoustic ecology

• Ecoacoustics

• Interactive technology

• Audiovisual interaction

Completed PhDs

• Alo Allik, PhD by Composition, Developing a multimodal autonomous improvisation system (supported by a University of Hull 80th Anniversary Scholarship)

• Nick Del Nero, PhD by Composition, The relationship between technology and society (supported by an AHRC scholarship)

Current PhD supervisions 

• Moss Freed, PhD by Composition, Structured improvisation and graphic scores (supported by a NECAH scholarship in partnership with the University of Huddersfield). Co-supervisor: Prof Pierre Alexandre Tremblay.

• Anthony Boorer, PhD by Composition, The Electroacoustic Trombone: An examination of trombone technique through augmented electroacoustic sound design in an original composition portfolio (supported by a NECAH scholarship in partnership with the University of Huddersfield). Co-supervisor: Dr Mark Bokowiec.

• Tariq Emam, PhD by Composition, The Yorkshire Soundscape Project (supported by a University of Hull Interdisciplinary Scholarship). Co-supervisor: Dr Matt Barnard

• Brett Gordon, PhD by Composition, Human and Computer Interactions in Electroacoustic Music (supported by a University of Hull scholarship). Co-supervisor: Dr Mark Slater.

• Sam Eaton, PhD by Composition, Non-linear musical form explored through site-specific audiovisual installations. Co-supervisor: Dr Matt Barnard.

Teaching awards and accolades

• Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), 2017.

• Nominated for an Employee Excellence Award for ‘Outstanding Commitment to the Student Experience’ (2017)

• University Teaching Fellow – awarded for contributions to excellence in learning and teaching. In addition, awarded £1,000 to set-up SEALE (Scarborough Electro-Acoustic Laptop Ensemble) (2011)

• £5,000 award for Innovations in Student Learning from the Learning and Teaching Support Unit, University of Hull: Development of an interdisciplinary module in Acoustic Ecology (2010)

• £3,000 award for Innovations in Student Learning from the Learning and Teaching Support Unit, University of Hull: Development of professional links with a local museum and industry professional for student learning (2009)

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

• PhD in Electroacoustic Composition. University of Wales, Bangor (2005).

• MMus in Electroacoustic Composition. University of Wales, Bangor (1997).

• BSc Honours degree in Geology and Music, Class 2.1. Keele University (1995).

External roles

External examinerships
  • University of Sheffield (2014– )

  • Bath Spa University (2014 - 2018)

  • London Metropolitan University (2010– 2013)

  • University of Huddersfield (2006–2011)

External advisor roles and validations
  • Collaborative Provision Advisor for BA Creative Music Technology at Grimsby Institute (2015– )

  • External Advisor for MArts Sonic Arts and MMusTech Music Technology at Trinty St David (2015)

  • External Validator for BA Music Theatre at Edge Hill University (2013)

  • External Advisor for BA Sonic Arts at Bangor University (2013)

  • Collaborative Provision Advisor for BA Music Technology at Doncaster College (2009– )

Roles in External Organisations and Societies

  • Chair of the UK and Ireland Soundscape Community

Awards and accolades

• Re-imagining the Jurassic. Finalist in the ‘art! ⋈ climate’ contest 2013, run in collaboration between the ‘Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre’ and CEIArtE (Centro de Experimentación e Investigación en Artes Electrónicas), Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febero

• Winner in the Concours Luc Ferrari (7th International Radio Arts Competition) 2006, leading to a two-week composer residency at the studios of La Muse en Circuit in Paris

• Finalist in the Concours Luc Ferrari (6th International Radio Arts Competition) 2004, and then performed three pieces at the Archipel Festival in Geneva

• Joyce’s Vision. Finalist in the ‘1er Concurso International de Minaturas Electroacústicas’, Spain, 2003, and included on Competition CD

• Voicewind and Embrace (with IMP). Short-listed for SPNM season, 2002–2005

• Augustine's Message. Finalist in the ' 28e Concours de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges’, 2001

• Voicewind. Special Prize in the 'EAR99 Competition of the HEAR Studio’ (Hungarian Radio), 1999

• Sea Pictures. Residency Prize from ‘24e Concours de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges 1997' leading to an opportunity to compose in the experimental music studio of Slovak Radio in Bratislava in August 1998

• University of Wales, Bangor, research scholarship, 1997-1999

• Sea Pictures and Environs, short-listed for SPNM season, 1997-2000

• Keele University, music department prize for outstanding commitment to performance 1993

Professional highlights

Collaborated with a number of poets, including Martin Daws (Young People’s Poet Laureate for Wales, 2013–2015) and John Wedgwood Clarke (for the Arts Council-funded Dictionary of Stone and Sea Swim with Lara Goodband, and Off Shore at Hull’s Maritime Museum and Ferens Gallery with Invisible Dust).

Collaborated with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie on the Natural England-funded Ruskin Rocks project, led by a team of scientists and musicians at the University of Leeds who created two stone instruments (lithophones). Also created a Jurassic soundscape for Scarborough’s Rotunda museum.

Reviewer for numerous international conferences, including ICMC (International Computer Music Conference), NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression), DHRN (Digital Humanities Research Network), and journals (Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press) and is editor for Interference, a Journal of Audio Cultures.

Played, written and produced in a number of bands including the Welsh hip-hop collective Tystion with whom he collaborated alongside John Cale on the film A Beautiful Mistake (Film 4), as well as recording three John Peel sessions on BBC Radio 1 and supporting PJ Harvey. The band have a chapter devoted to them in Sarah Hill’s book 'Blerwytirhwng?' The Place of Welsh Pop Music (Ashgate 2007).

Session work for Super Furry Animals producer Gorwel Owen, songwriter Euros Childs, and hip-hop producer Kista. Currently enjoying playing in the Welsh Afro-tropical collective Drymbago, having supported Quantic and Tony Allen.