Dr Manuella Blackburn completed her PhD in electroacoustic music composition in 2010 with the supervision of Professor Ricardo Climent at the University of Manchester.

Manuella began lecturing at Liverpool Hope University in 2010 before taking up a post at Keele University in 2019. She has been composing for over 15 years and has created a wide range of electroacoustic music works for instruments and electronics, fixed media, sound installation work, music for dance and for film. Her music is published on the Montreal-based label, Emprientes DIGITALes.

Her specialism within the field of electroacoustic music is fixed media – acousmatic music for loudspeakers. Her work has extended to the realm of visual impetus for creativity, developing composition methods based on images. Her work has been performed in over 250 performances globally. Notable performances include Alfortville, Athens, Bangor, Birmingham, Brussels, Calgary, Glasgow, Helsinki, Huddersfield, Leicester, Linz, Lisbon, Liverpool, Ljubljana, London, Lyon, Macclesfield, Madrid, Manchester, Melinka, Montréal, New York City, Orford, Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Seoul, Sheffield, Sofia, Trebel, Troy, Udine, Utrecht, Valdivia, Vienna, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Visby and Vitória.

Her music has been awarded prizes in a number of competitions and festivals including: Computer Space Award (1st Prize, Bulgaria, 2017), Musica Nova, (1st Prize, Czech Republic, 2016), International Computer Music Association European Regional Award (Australia, 2013), Gaudeamus Music Prize (Finalist, Utrecht, Netherlands 2012), METAMORPHOSIS competition (1st Prize, Brussels, 2012), Musica Viva, (1st Prize, Portugal, 2010) and Digital Arts Awards (Grand Prize, Tokyo, Japan, 2007).

Manuella’s academic writings focus on three primary research areas: soundfile brevity, intercultural creativity and sound/music borrowing within electroacoustic music. She has published numerous journal articles, conference papers and book chapters on these topics and has given keynote addresses at the NAMHE Music – Learning – Technologies conference, (Glasgow, 2013) and the Women Since 1900 Conference (Liverpool, 2013) and the Musicological Society of Australia (Perth, 2018). Her guest editor work for Organised Sound journal in 2014 encouraged new thinking and literature on the topic of ‘The Sound of Cultures’ and a latest issue on 'Borrowing, quotation, sampling and plundering' published Septmeber 2019 confront the challenges of borrowed audio within the field of electroacoustic music.


Research and scholarship

Dr Manuella Blackburn is an experienced researcher in the field of electroacoustic music. She is an internationally recognised and multi award-winning composer. As a practiced-based researcher, Dr Blackburn’s work takes the form of new, original compositions which have been played globally in over 250 performances, concerts, exhibitions and festivals. As a specialist in creating fixed media music, Dr Blackburn’s research has focused on methodologies exploring new strategies for composers and students to create music. Her work pioneering the first systemised method for creating electroacoustic music (The Visual Sound-Shapes methodology) was used as a REF Impact Case Study in REF2014 ( demonstrating the reach and significance of this pedagogical tool for class room learning and beyond.

Dr Blackburn’s research extends to compositional methodologies with short soundfiles emerging from experimentation with brevity in her own music-making. Her series of published work on her albums Petites étincelles (2017) and Formes audibles (2011) include: Switched on (2011), Time will Tell (2013), Ice Breaker (2015), Snap Happy (2017) and Landline (2018) which all deal with the coordination and handling of hundreds of short soundfiles. Finding ways to sequence such materials en masse has preoccupied Dr Blackburn’s practical and text-based research over eight past years.

Along side these research concerns, Dr Blackburn’s work examining sound and musical borrowing in electronic music has resulted in a number of key publications: ‘The Terminology of Borrowing’ (2019), and ‘Other People’s Sounds’ (2017). This research followed on from her study of intercultural creativity which spurred on a wave of interest in cultural appropriation within the sonic arts, previously under-documented. These key ideas were first formulated into research into cross-cultural composition practices as exhibited in her work Cajon! (2008), Dance Machine (2009), Karita oto (2009). The concept of the Sonic Souvenir as an analogy for field recordings conducted in foreign locations opened up a curiosity for the movement of sound across borders.

Dr Blackburn’s research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in an Early Career Fellowship (intercultural Creativity in Electroacoustic Music: Integrating Indian Music Cultural Sound Emblems in new works) in 2012-13.

Dr Blackburn is currently a member of the editorial board for Organised Sound Journal (CUP) and Ordinary Member of the Royal Musical Association (RMA). Her music is published by Empreintes DIGITALes, Montreal, Canada ( and has been reviewed by The Wire, MusicWorks, Tempo magazine, The Sound Projector, Blow up and Touching Extremes.



Dr Blackburn teaches on/convenes the following research-led undergraduate modules: 

  • Year 1: Audio Fundamentals and Sound Recording
  • Year 2: AudioVisual Composition, Record Production and Creative Sound Design    
  • Year 3: Digital Arts Creative Portfolio

Dr Blackburn is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) which recognises experienced educators in academia. This achievement recognises excellence in teaching leadership, management and organisation, as well as recognising innovation in learning and teaching practices. Dr Blackburn's work in embedding collaboration into course design and building content for software learning has been acknowledged in this context.


Further information





Title of Paper

Musicological Society of Australia (MSA)


Perth, Australia

Keynote: ‘Mimesis, Sonic Illusions and Micromontage’

Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference


Florence, Italy

Old Music for New Sounds, Quoting and recycling music of the past’

World on the Move Conference


University of Manchester

Responding to migration: sound art practices promoting social transformation

Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference


Nagoya, Japan

Other people’s sounds: examples and implications of borrowed audio

First International Conference on Women’s work in Music


Bangor University

Female composers and the sonic home: interactions with domestic sound

AHRC Early Career symposium


Liverpool Hope University

Intercultural Creativity

Music Since 1900 conference,


Liverpool Hope University

Keynote: Creative Practice and Technology

National Association for Music in Higher Education



Keynote: ‘Music – Learning – Technologies’

Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference


Lisbon, Portugal

Performer as Sound Source: interactions and mediations in the recording studio and in the field’ (with Alok Nayak, Milapfest)

Tape to Typedef Symposium



Illustration and the compositional process: an update on pedagogical and creative uses

INTER/actions Symposium



Improvisation, Dynamic Form and the Acousmatic Music Composer: Perspectives on Triple Retort

Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference


New York, USA

'Importing the Sonic Souvenir: Issues of cross-cultural composition


AHRC Translating Cultures closing conference

April 2019

Senate House, London

Intercultural Creativity in Electroacoustic Music: reflections

AHRC Translating cultures


Senate House, London

Intercultural Creativity in Electroacoustic Music: collaborative working

Common Cause network


Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre

Milapfest and Liverpool Hope University: A partnership story (With Alok Nayak, Milapfest)

Common Cause report launch


British Film Institute, London

Invited participant for the Common Cause report launch with Alison Wall (ESPRC) and Andrew Thompson (AHRC, executive chair)

Invited Lectures




May 2019

Staffordshire University

Social engagement and REF2021 (talk and panel discussion).

April 2019

University of Sheffield

Composer portrait concert (concert of my music)

March 2019

University of Manchester

Intercultural Creativity: working in partnerships

March 2019

Bath Spa University

‘Composing with short sounds’ research talk

February 2019

City University

‘The Terminology of Borrowing’ (part of my role as visiting SPARC Fellow for 2019) and concert: Domestic Bliss (concert of my music).


December 2018

Edith Cowan University

Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music): The Music of Manuella Blackburn



Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD)

Keynote address for National Association for Music in Higher Education (NAMHE)


Theatre Marni, Brussels: L’Espace du son festival

Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music)



Greenwich University, London

Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music)


University of Birmingham

Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music)


Bangor University

Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music)


Rensselaer Polytechnic University, Troy, USA

Artist in residence and Composer Portrait Concert (concert of my music)


Arnolfini Arts Centre, Bristol

Intercultural activity and foreign sounds within the field of sonic arts’


Research FUNDING


AHRC Early Career Fellowship



Intercultural Creativity in electroacoustic music: Integrating Indian music cultural sound emblems into new works


AHRC doctoral funding scheme



Composing from Denis Smalley’s spectromorphology

Complete list international prizes awarded:

First Prize Musicworks Electronic Music Competition, Toronto, Canada (2019) for Landline (2018)

First Prize, Computer Space Awards, Bulgaria, Electronic Music Category (2017) for Snap Happy (2017)

Mention in the Prize PRESQUE RIEN for Presque mon son (2015)

2nd Prize, SIME Electroacoustic Music Competition (2016) for Ice Breaker (2015)

Finalist in the XI International Composition Competition "Città di Udine", Italy,  (2016) for Ice Breaker (2015)

First Prize Musica Nova award, Czech Republic, PIARS Sonic Arts Award 2014 for Time will tell (2013)

European Regional Award, International Computer Music Association (ICMA, 2013), Perth, Australia, 2013 for Javaari (2013)

Finalist - Gaudeamus Music Prize, Utrecht, Netherlands, for Switched on (2011)

First Prize METAMORPHOSIS composition competition, Brussels, Belguim, 2012 for Switched on, (2011)

First Prize, Musica Viva, Lisbon, Portugal, 2010 for Vista Points, (2009)

3rd prize, Diffusion Prize, Centre for Computational Musicology and Computer Music), University of Limerick, Ireland, 2008 for Cajón! (2008)

Honorary Mention, Visiones Sonoras, CMMAS, Morelia, Mexico, 2008 for Cajón! (2008)

Grand Prize, Digital Arts Awards, Digital Music Category, Tokyo, Japan, 2007 for Kitchen Alchemy, (2007)

Honorary Mention and Finalist, Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica de São Paulo (CIMESP), São Paolo, Brazil, 2007 for Kitchen Alchemy, (2007)

Finalist, Kraft Media Award, Washington Project for the Arts, 2011 for Kitchen Alchemy, (2007)

First Prize, 10th Musica Viva Electroacoustic Music Competition, Lisbon, Portugal, 2009 Causal Impacts, (2006)

Selection, Bourges International Electroacoustic Music and Sonic Arts Competition, residence category, France, 2006 for Causal Impacts, (2006)

Finalist, Confluencias, V Electro-Acoustic Miniatures International Contest, Spain, 2008 for Sonidos Bailables, (2006)

Public Prize, CEMJKO, 1st International Electroacoustic Composition Contest, Brazil, 2006 for Sonidos Bailables, (2006)




Manuella Blackburn, ‘The Terminology of Borrowing’, Organised Sound, Vol.24(2), 2019.

Manuella Blackburn, Editorial on ‘Borrowing, Quotation, Plundering and Sampling’ Organised Sound Journal, Vol.24 (2), 2019.

Manuella Blackburn, ‘Working with brevity: short soundfiles in electroacoustic music’, proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) New York, June 2019.

Manuella Blackburn,

‘Other people’s sounds’, Conference paper, Electronic Music Studies Network Conference, September 2017.

Manuella Blackburn Petites étincelles. (Single composer album) (Javaari, 2013Ice breaker, 2014; Time will tell 2013Snap Happy 2017New Shruti, 2013). Single-composer CD-audio disc, published October 2017, by Empreintes DIGITALes (Montreal).

Manuella Blackburn, ‘Analysing the identifiable: cultural reference and causality within Diana Salazar’s La voz del fuelle’, in Expanding the Horizon of Electroacoustic Music Analysis, Simon Emmerson and Leigh Landy Ed, Cambridge University Press, pp. 288-309, (Cambridge, 2016).

Manuella Blackburn, ‘Editorial on the Sound of Cultures’ Organised Sound Journal, Vol.19 (2), 2014, pp107-109.

Manuella Blackburn, ‘Instruments INDIA: creating a sound archive for educational and compositional use’, Organised Sound Journal, Vol.19 (2) 2014, pp146-153.

Manuella Blackburn, Formes Audibles, (single composer album), (Vista Points, 2009; Kitchen Alchemy, 2008; Cajon! 2008; Switched on, 2011; Spectral Spaces, 2008; and Karita oto, 2009. Single-composer CD-audio disc, published June 2012, by Empreintes DIGITALes (Montreal, Canada), 60 mins total.

Manuella Blackburn, 'The Visual Sound-Shapes of Spectromorphology: An illustrative guide to composition', Organised Sound, Cambridge Journals, Vol.16(1) 2011, 5-13.

Music outputs:

Landline (2018) fixed media composition.

Eyes of the Stars (2018) for toy piano and electronics

Two sides of Delia (2017) electronics and live painting. Delia Derbyshire Day Commission (Heritage Lottery Commission)

Snap Happy (2017) fixed media composition. 

Presque mon son (2015) fixed media composition

Ice Breaker (2015) Fixed media composition.

Time will Tell (2013) Fixed media composition.

New Shruti (2013) for Sarod and electronics.(AHRC Funded)

Javaari (2013) fixed media composition.

(AHRC funded).

Come Closer (2012) for cello and electronics.

Switched on (2011) Fixed media composition.

Triple Retort (2011) for mezzo soprano, cello flute and electronics.

Published Compositions on CD/DVD

  • Landline (2018) on Musicworks#133, CD, Spring 2019 issue.
  • Petites étincelles, Manuella Blackburn. (Javaari, 2013Ice breaker, 2014; Time will tell 2013Snap Happy 2017New Shruti, 2013). Single-composer CD-audio disc, published October 2017, by Empreintes DIGITALes (Montreal).
  • Formes Audibles, Manuella Blackburn. (Vista Points, 2009; Kitchen Alchemy, 2008; Cajon! 2008; Switched on, 2011; Spectral Spaces, 2008; and Karita oto, 2009. Single-composer CD-audio disc, published June 2012, by Empreintes DIGITALes (Montreal, Canada), 60 mins total.
  • Switched on (Stereo, acousmatic) International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) proceedings CD, 2012.
  • Switched on (Stereo, acousmatic) METAMORPHOSIS prizewinner’s CD.
  • Switched on (Stereo, acousmatic) The Wire Tapper 30 CD, September 2012 issue.
  • Vista Points, (stereo, acousmatic) Musica Viva Prizewinner’s CD, Miso Music records, 2010.