rowan oliver

Dr Rowan Oliver

Lecturer in Music

Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education

+44 (0) 1482 466330

Alongside his academic career, Rowan continues to record and perform internationally as a multi-instrumentalist session musician. He also produces original music and remixes, as well as composing for film.

Before joining the University's staff, he spent several years touring the world as the drummer in Goldfrapp (among various musical exploits).


Research Interests

  • Groove, breakbeats and sampling
  • The musician’s relationship with time and sound
  • Black Atlantic popular music styles
  • Composing for film
  • The use of technology in performance


‘In Dub Conference: Empathy, Groove and Technology in Jamaican Reggae', in Music and Empathy, King E and Waddington C (Eds), Routledge (2017)

'Bring That Beat Back: Sampling as Virtual Collaboration', in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality, Whitely S and Rambarran S (Eds), Oxford University Press (2016)

‘Britcore Breaks: the Distinctive Groove of UK Hip Hop Production (1989–92)’, ‘It Ain’t Where You’re from, It’s Where You’re at’, International Hip Hop Studies Conference, University of Cambridge (2016)

‘Breakbeat Syncretism: the Drum Sample in African American Popular Music’, in African American Culture and Society Post Rodney King: Provocations and Protests, Progression and ‘Post-Racialism’, Metcalf J and Spaulding C (Eds), Ashgate (2015)

‘Groove as Familiarity with Time’, in Music and Familiarity, King E and Daynes H (Eds), Ashgate (2013)


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Global Pop
  • Session Musician Performance
  • Music Industry Studies
  • Special Study
  • Individual Project
  • Creative Music Skills I and II (Gig Performance strand)
  • Performance Studies I and II

Research PhDs

Dr Oliver welcomes applications in the areas of groove, rhythm, sampling, and Black Atlantic popular music.

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BA, University of York
  • PGCHE, University of Hull
  • PhD, University of Hull

External roles

  • Peer reviewer for Music Perception journal and reviews editor for the Journal of Music, Technology and Education.
  • External examiner for BA Singing, Institute of the Arts, Barcelona (2016– )
  • External examiner for BA Music Production and Performance, Leeds Beckett University (2016– )
  • External examiner for undergraduate popular music programmes, University of Salford (2014– )
  • External examiner for music programmes, Singapore Raffles Music College (2014–17)
  • External examiner for postgraduate music performance programmes, London College of Music (2012–17)

Awards and accolades

  • Awarded the Center for Black Music Research's Travel to the Collections Grant in support of his 2015 research visit to their Chicago-based archives.
  • £3,000 from the Innovations in Student Learning fund to develop student-led record label Folkwood.
  • £20,000 from the Alumni Fund to support of a series of widening participation and reachout teaching initiatives. These included mobile recording units for location/workshop use and a samba percussion ensemble.

Professional highlights

  • Awarded three gold discs for studio performances and programming work on Goldfrapp's Felt MountainBlack Cherry and Supernature albums; Rowan's remix of their song 'Strict Machine' reached number one in the US Billboard dance chart in 2004.
  • Rowan’s arrangement, performance and production on 'Smokescreen' by Willis featured in a Fiat advertisement which premiered during the 2012 Super Bowl final to a TV audience exceeding 110 million.
  • Extensive international live and studio performance experience at professional level from 1996 onwards, playing in a range of genres. Noteworthy examples of his work include Glastonbury festival, Fuji Rock Festival (Japan), a series of sold-out headline shows at Brixton Academy and various international stadium tours supporting Coldplay, Depeche Mode and Moby (among others).
  • Rowan's original music score for director Alison Murray’s feature film Mouth to Mouth won Best Film Music prize at the 2007 Festival International du Premier Film d’Annonay.