Dr Milton Mermikides

Lecturer in Music, MMus Programme Director and Head of Composition

Qualifications: BMus (Hons) BSc (Econ) PhD

Phone: Work: 01483 68 6519
Room no: 43 PA 01

Office hours

Academic tutorials are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are may be booked by email.

Further information


Milton Mermikides PhD (University of Surrey) BSc is a composer, performer and producer in a wide range of styles and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Pat Martino, John Williams, Tod Machover, Steve Winwood, Tim Minchin and Brian Eno. In addition to Lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey, Milton is Professor of Jazz Guitar at the Royal College of Music and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and London School of Economics. Milton has given seminars and lectures at the Royal Academy of Music (London), Royal Musical Association (Guildford), Smithsonian Institute (New York), Art Researches Science Conference (Belgium), Oulu Music Festival (Finland) and The British Library and Science Museum (London). He has performed guitar for HM the Queen and has received awards for his writing, education and charity work. Milton's compositions, production and guitar-playing appears on BBC1, BBC2, BBC4, Channel 4, Discovery Channel, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, Computer Music, Total Guitar and Guitar Techniques Magazine as well as galleries, planetaria and concert halls internationally, and his theme tunes for various podcasts are heard by over 10,000 listeners a week. Milton composed the soundtrack and appears in Martino: Unstrung (2008 Sixteen Films) and - in conversation with Paul Morley - on BBC's How To Be A Composer (2009 Diverse) and his work appears in the Oxford Handbook of Computer Music (OUP 2009).

Research Interests

Jazz, contemporary, electronic performance, improvisation, composition, creativity and analysis.
Music/Science cross-disciplinary composition, installation and sonification projects.
Electro-acoustic composition and performance blending traditional virtuosity with digital technologies.
Time-feel, micro-timing and micro-rhythm. (Elements of groove that feel good but escape easy standard notation).
Guitar performance and composition in a wide range of styles.

Research Collaborations

Wellcome Trust
UCL Neuroscience
British Library
Science Museum
Aldeburgh Music
Smithsonian Institute


Journal articles

  • Mermikides M. 'Rondo All Turca'. Future Publishing: Total Guitar,
  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) 'Parallel Worlds'. Guitar Techniques, (248)


    An analysis of borrowed minor and major tonlaities in a range of popular music styles.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) '5 Decades of the Jam Band'. Guitar Techniques, (245)


    A stylistic overview of prominent jam band guitaristic approaches from the Greatfeul Dead to Les Claypool

  • Mermikides MJ, Mermikides A, Tanczos A, Weitkamp E . (2015) 'Devised performance as a tool for public en- gagement in acute haematological cancers.'. 30th General Meeting of the Belgian Haematological Society,


    Dramatic representations of cancer patients play an important role in engaging the public. However, mainstream formats such as Hollywood film, risk sentimentalising the subjective experience of the patient and ‘dumbing down’ the science. This research tests how an ‘alternative’ form of live performance engages audiences.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) 'Extreme Guitar Concepts'. Guitar Techniques, (230)


    AN overview of non-standard guitarist techniques and musical approaches (in pitch, timbre and rhythm) in the rock-centred styles.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) '4 Levels of the Blues'. Guitar Techniques, (240)


    An analytical and pedagogical approach to blues improvisation involving four categories of harmonic engagement (1. Minor Pentatonic superimposition 2. Parallel pentatonic substitution 3. Mixolydian transposition 4. Scale variation with essential guide-tone preservation, and superimposition techniques

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) 'Bossa Appreciation'. GUitar Techniques (237)


    A survey of key Bossa Nova guitar techniques

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) 'Guitar Soloing'.


    Survey, analysis and pedagogy of key electric guitar soloists.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) 'Experiencing ‘Flow’ in Jazz Performance by Elina Hytönen-Ng (review)'. Music and Notes, 95 (No.. 3), pp. 452-454.
  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) 'Experiencing ‘Flow’ in Jazz Performance by Elina Hytönen-Ng (review)'. Music & Letters, 95 (3), pp. 495-497.


    Research into ‘flow’ in music performance is surprisingly limited in comparison to, say, the sports sciences. Furthermore, jazz—which it may be argued has attributes particularly relevant to flow experience (such as ascetic practice regimes and emphasis not only on instrumental proficiency but also on a hard-earned spontaneous creativity)—is notably underrepresented in comparison with other musical practices. Experiencing ‘Flow’ in Jazz Performance by Elina Hytönen-Ng is a welcome attempt to address this deficiency in performance research.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'All at Sea'. Total Guitar, TG230
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Perfect 5th'. Total Guitar, TG229
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'God save the Queen'. Total Guitar, TG228


    Thomas Arne (1710-1778) seemed to have had a knack of penning a memorable and stirring British song, composing //Rule, Brittania!//, //A-hunting We Will Go// and - as arranged here - the (then-titled) //God Save The King// which has been the unofficial English national anthem for a quarter of a millennium. In fact, there is no prescribed ‘official’ anthem for England or the UK, it is only determined by custom or popular use, but //God Save The King// (renamed when needed to //God Save The Queen//) has been selected repeatedly by the British people over the years with only //Jerusalem//, //Rule, Brittania!// and //Land of Hope and Glory// coming in to any contention. In fact, although it is Arne who is usually credited as the composer and it is his version that we would be familiar today, he may not be the original writer of the melody: a much older keyboard piece from 1619 exists by one Dr. John Bull which shares many of its melodic characteristics. In addition much of the lyrical content was well known by the time Arne published the work in 1744, and some of the words may be traced as far back as the Bible. Since the 18th century verses have been added and removed (including some incendiary remarks about the Scots), so teasing out where credit should be given in such cases is virtually impossible. These difficulties of historical tracing aside, //God Save the Queen/King// has been indelibly embedded in culture of the British public heard over the years in countless state ceremonies, sporting events and public broadcasts...

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Sorcery'. Total Guitar, T226
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Greensleeves'. Total Guitar, TG227
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Greensleeves'. Total Guitar, TG227
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Wild Rover'. Total Guitar, TG225
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'Hall of the Mountain King'. Total Guitar, TG225


    A 19th Century Norwegian masterpiece conjuring visions of goblins and trolls is given the TG shred guitar treatment.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'A Clean Grave'. Total Guitar, TG224
  • Mermikides MJ. (2012) 'Strings of Life'. Total Guitar,


    TG Investigates the invisible inhabitants on your guitar strings

  • Mermikides MJ. (2011) 'Spangled'. Total Guitar,
  • Mermikides MJ. (2011) 'Rondo All Turca'. Total Guitar,
  • Mermikides MJ. (2011) 'Korobeiniki'. Total Guitar,


    For much of history - before the advent of recording or widespread use of notation - music was passed from person to person aurally, and most people in their lifetimes would only hear the music of their local area in whatever the contemporary style happened to be. However, with the advent of world travel, music literacy, recording and digital media, we have now arrived in an age where a vast resource of music from all countries, cultures and ages is available to all of us. A piece of music can become widely popular no matter when, where and for what purpose it was created.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2010) 'On Composing. How To Be A Successful Computer-based Composer'. Computer Music Magazine Special: Making it, (179)


    The countless hours that you've spent at your machine lovingly creating and tweaking your electronic compositions have been enormous fun. Perhaps, though, you've found yourself with the nagging feeling that it might be more rewarding, challenging and exciting to have your compositions out there in the big, wide world, not just languishing on a dusty MySpace page, but bursting into life in films, video games, TV, on the stage- and actually earning money. If this sounds like you, keep reading. Here I’ve put together a collection of practical tips to get you on the road to becoming a professional composer- and the first piece of good news is, you won't even need a white wig ...

Conference papers

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) 'Hidden Music of Sleep Patterns'. Sage Gateshead: British Sleep Society


    Data sonification – the translation of ‘non-musical’ data into sound and music – is a discipline with a long and diverse history, inspiring many works over centuries, and with recent developments in music technology, a vibrant field for compositional research and interdisciplinary collaboration. Led by composer Milton Mermikides the Sound Asleep project is a collaboration between sleep scientists Professor Debra Skene (University of Surrey), Dr. Renata Rhia (University of Edinburgh), Professor Vladyslav Vyazovskiy (University of Oxford), Professor of Computing Paul Krause (University of Surrey) and video and computer programmers. The project focuses on the translation of sleep data into sound and music, with a number of practical and artistic aims, including engagement with the visually impaired, sleep disorder and sleep science communities. A background and audio and video outputs from the project will be presented.

  • Mermikides MJ, Skene D, Riha R, Vyazovskiy V. (2014) 'Sound Asleep: The translation of sleep patterns into music'. 22nd Congress of the European Sleep Research Society


    A video presentation outlining the Sound Asleep Project: Hidden music: the history and art of data sonification, translating physical and biological phenomena into sound M. Mermikides (Guildfort, GB) Making sleep visible to the blind D. Skene (Guildford, GB) PSG nocturne: converting PSG data into multi-layered musical compositions R. Riha (Edinburgh, GB) The inner sound of sleep: converting EEG waves into the audio spectrum V. Vyazovskiy (Surrey, GB)

  • Mermikides M. (2013) 'Hidden Music'. Splice Symposium
  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) 'The Myth of the Muse'. The British Library and University College London (UCL) London: Inspiring Science 2013: Your Creative Brain


    The Myth of the Muse is a presentation at the British Library as part of the Neuroscience of Imagination event. Presenting alongside Blind Summit Theatre, Pulitzer-nominated author Arthur I. Miller, Professor of neuroscience Vincent Walsh and Chiara Ambrosio, this performance-presentation discussed the tools, techniques and implications of neuroscientific research on music compositional and improvisational creativity. Video available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7ts7yppM2wk

  • Mermikides MJ. (2012) 'The Performing Brain'. The British Library and University College London (UCL) The British Library: The Performing Brain -- A moving Story


    Funded by UCL and the British Library Role: Lecturer, composer, performer Collaborators: Dr. Joern Diedrichsen and Professor Vincent Walsh (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience), Dr. Mark Edwards (Institute of Neurology), Matthias Sperling (Royal Opera House), British Library. A lecture-recital at the British Library, investigating the neuroscience of music and creativity. For this project, I underwent MRI scanning while mimicking gestures made during performance, a film was made of a live performance to show brain activity during jazz performance. The lecture-recital also included a paper on virtuosity and musical learning all delivered to a sold-out audience at the British Library conference centre on March 16th 2012. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event128992.html A video of the event is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMSwZMqGnww&feature=player_embedded and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMSwZMqGnww&feature=player_embedded

  • Mermikides MJ. (2009) 'Eclipse Masterclass'. Trinity Church, Boston MA to Berklee College of Music: Presentation on the practice of live interactive electronics
  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) 'Sacred Geometry: An analysis of Pat Martino’s guitar improvisations on Welcome To A Prayer'. University of Surrey: The Royal Musical Association Conference


    Pat Martino commands high status in the world of jazz, for his prodigious talents as a teenage jazz phenomenon, numerous awards, recording output and his remarkable recovery from extreme amnesia following a life-saving brain operation in 1980.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) 'Improvisations on Welcome to A Prayer'.

Book chapters

  • Mermikides MJ, Feygelson E. (2014) 'Shape in Improvisation'. in (ed.) Music and Shape Article number 8


  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) Minimalist Works. Luton Library Theatre:


    A laptop and guitar performance of Minimalist works by Reich, Riley, Bryars and Einaudi with cellist Peter Gregson, viola Ian Anderson and Piano Richard Sisson at the Luton Music Society.

  • Mermikides MJ, Faja G, Curran AM, Ryskov N, Ryan S. (2010) Retrato de Piazzolla. Reworkings of the music of Astor Piazzolla. St James, Picadilly, London, UK:


    Amor Quintet: Gabriele Faja, piano. Anne-Marie Curran, violin. Nikolai Ryskov, accordion. Sam Ryan, double bass. Milton Mermikides, guitar.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2010) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Western Alliance of Planetariums (WAC) 2010 conference, Omaha, Nebraska, USA:
  • Mermikides MJ, Faja G, Curran AM, Ryskov N, Ryan S. (2010) Retrato de Piazzolla. Reworkings of the music of Astor Piazzolla. Hoxton Jazz Festival, London, UK.:


    (Amor Quintet: Gabriele Faja, piano. Anne-Marie Curran, violin. Nikolai Ryskov, accordion. Sam Ryan, double bass. Milton Mermikides, guitar).

  • Mermikides MJ, Faja G, Curran AM, Ryskov N, Ryan S. (2010) Retrato de Piazzolla. Reworkings of the music of Astor Piazzolla. London International Guitar Festival, South Bank, London, UK:


    Recital. Amor Quintet: Gabriele Faja, piano. Anne-Marie Curran, violin. Nikolai Ryskov, accordion. Sam Ryan, double bass. Milton Mermikides, guitar. Performed at different venues: May 16, 2010- London International Guitar Festival, South bank, London, UK. May 22, 2010- Hoxton Jazz Festival, London, UK. September 22, 2010- St, James Picadilly, London, UK.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2010) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. British Association of Planetaria (BAP) 2010 conference, Winchester, UK:
  • Mermikides M, GRegson P. (2010) Terminal. The Hospital Club, London, UK:


    Live performance of works by Peter Gregson and Milton Mermikides. (Peter Gregson, cello. Milton Mermikides, electronics).

  • Mermikides MJ. (2010) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Thinktank: Birmingham Planetarium, UK.:


    Available for viewing since 1 May 2010

  • Mermikides MJ. (2009) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. Intech Planetarium, Winchester, UK:


    launch week, and available for viewing since 1 October 2009.

  • Mermikides MJ, Gregson P. (2009) Factory.. New Media Scotland, Glasgow, UK:


    Live performance of works by Peter Gregson and Milton Mermikides. (Peter Gregson, cello. Milton Mermikides, electronics).

  • Mermikides M, Gregson P. (2009) SPEM. Trinity Church, Boston, USA:


    Live performance of works by Tallis, John Metcalfe, Martin Suckling, Philip Sheppard, Thomas Hewitt-Jones and Milton Mermikides (Peter Gregson, cello. Milton Mermikides, electronics).

  • Mermikides MJ, Gregson P. (2009) The Words on the Wall.. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, UK:


    Live performance of works by John Metcalfe, Martin Suckling, Max Richter, Philip Sheppard, Thomas Hewitt-Jones and Milton Mermikides Peter Gregson, cello. Milton Mermikides, electronics)

  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Microcosmos. Infective Art event. Dana Centre, Science Museum, London, UK:
  • Mermikides MJ, Truin P. (2008) La Vita Non Fa Rumore. Conservatoire of Alghero, Sardinia:


    Book reading by Gian Luca Favetto and live improvised performance of works by Coltrane, Ronell, Pete Truin and Milton Mermikides (Pete Truin,saxophones, Milton Mermikides, guitar and electronics).

  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Microcosmos. Art Researches Science exhibition. Antwerp, Belgium:
  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Music of the Body. Science Circus, Guildford, Surrey, UK:
  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Microcosmos. Digiville Forms of Life exhibition. Lighthouse, Brighton, UK:
  • Mermikides M, Gregson P. (2008) SPEM.. Greyfriar’s Kirk, Edinburgh, UK:


    Live performance of works by Tallis, John Metcalfe, Martin Suckling, Philip Sheppard, Thomas Hewitt-Jones and Milton Mermikides

  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Microcosmos. York Gate Museum, Royal Academy of Music, London, UK.:
  • Mermikides MJ, Montague C. (2008) Torus. Studio One, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK:


    Royal Musical Association. Guitar duo improvised recital. (Chris Montague and Milton Mermikides, guitars).


  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Distant Harmony.


    3 electronic works derived from the transposition of orbital frequencies (of the sun, 55 Cancri and HD10180) to the rhythm and pitch spectrum.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Outbreak.


    Electronic data sonification work. Translation into musical motifs of the daily number of ebola cases in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea 
(24th March 2014 to 5th January 2015)

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Wave.


    Electronic work employing translation of contour and feature in 
Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa 
into pitch and timbre

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Crystals.


    Data sonification of the crystallisation of salt crystals into arpeggiated structures.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Seed Pods.


    Electronic data sonification work. Translation of stem and pod patterns into pitch and timbre.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Irrational Music.


    Simultaneous translation of the digits of e, φ and π into 
10 musical objects, creating a provably non-repetitive 'repetitive' work.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Geometudes Nos.1-5.


    5 geometrical etudes with rhythms, motif and harmony derived from the intersections of geometric shapes.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Another Day.


    Data sonification work displaying a translation of traffic movement over a 24 hour period into sound.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) ACTG.


    Electronic work revealing all possible 3 group combinations of the DNA codes ACTG 
translated from ASCII to MIDI

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Circles.


    Data sonification of Kandinsky's Several Circles. A musical composition created through the translation of colour and position into pitch and timbre.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Birth and Death.


    Piano and Electronics work translating the rate of population birth and death into a musical composition.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Starstuff.


    Electronic work derived from frequency of stellar formations.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Dark Shards.


    Electronic work demonstrating translation of crystal shard growth into harmony and arpeggio patterns.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Sound Asleep (video installation).


    7 electronic works derived form the translation of sleep patterns intro sonic and musical components

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Sound Asleep (2014).


    A series of 7 electronic works derived from the translation of sleep data into music. In collaboration with Skene, Rihe & Vyazovskiy, with visual animations but Dr. Tanczos. Presented at the 2014 European Sleep Research Society 22nd Congress, Estonia.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Frees.


    Work for Classical Guitar and Live Electronics. Built on a 3-note motif, this piece is inspired by a slow motion video of water freezing. The guitar enters into a conversation with the electronics (the acoustic and electronic world representing liquid and solid states respectively), its melody leaving trails of crystals behind it. A contrasting section slices guitar chords into fragments and rearranges them according to randomly permutated algorithms, which seem to have a knack of reproducing Latin rhythms.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) I(c)escape.


    Work for Classical Guitar and Live Electronics. Inspired by glaciers (and the rivers that run through them), this piece is built entirely on a tone row subject to conventional transformations. The electronics have the ability to stop, slow and reverse time of the guitar’s output and so can run through the tone rows independently, and can freeze and morph them into a backdrop of cluster chords. The middle section is reminiscent of a jazz walking bass (but still entirely serial), which transform into an ensemble interplay of guitar and electronics.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Spirals.


    Work for classical guitar and electronics. This piece explores the concept of spirals and also uses electronics to melt the conventional ‘envelope’ of the classical guitar. The outer sections are built around constantly ascending 5ths (or descending 4ths) aided by the electronics, which use the slightly wider pure 5th which do not ‘wrap around’ conveniently. The main central section follows diatonic and melodic cycles, which phase against each other in a hypnotic manner. The electronics are able to obliterate entirely the acoustic sound of the guitar, the tremolo effect becoming more akin to tone generation than recognisably guitaristic.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Asini.


    Work for Classical Guitar and Live Electronics. Plaka Asini is a beach in the Peloponnesian region of Greece. It overlooks the Mediterranean sea, has a little known acropolis, and is even mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. This piece is a homage to this magical place I have visited my entire life, which has the paradoxical quality of both seeming timeless and being a unique vantage point to witness the passage of time. The piece is based on the concept of cycles (of day and night, seasons, lunar phases, tides and waves) and follows the cycle of a day from twilight to dusk (the found sound is from a 24 hour recording I made in 2013). The outer movements mimic relaxed evening guitar playing while the middle section emulates the daytime waves, in particular the phenomenon of cross-winds creating transverse waves against the waves coming into shore, which is echoed in the constant 3/4 6/8 ambiguity.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) The Broken Music Box.
  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Limnos.


    Work for Classical Guitar and Live Electronics. Λήμνος (Lemnos in common translation) is an island in the northern Aegean sea, which was famed for its decorative ribbons, and so lends it name to the lemniscate, the infinity symbol (see the front of the programme). Limnos employs ‘just intonation’ in that each string is in a rational frequency relationship with every other (from the lowest string up: 1/1 5/4 15/8 /2 3/1 4/1). In this way chords ring with a harmonic ‘purity’, but with the added property that different ‘dimensions’ of tuning exist along each string. For example two types of B are heard in the opening motif where the 2nd string ‘B’ is around 14 cents (≈7th of a semitone) sharper than the ‘B’ on the 3rd string. The concept of infinity is also echoed in the structure of the work, as well as the electronics which process sound in time units based on the open string relationships.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) 2 Blue Circles.


    Work for classical guitar and electronics. Two Blue Circles uses a very simple melody and pentatonicism supported by jazz harmonies, a Satie-esque rhythm and electronic textures. This piece was written for our daughter Chloe before her arrival and yet seems even more apt now we’ve met her.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) BloodLines.


    Role: Composer and sound-design. The BloodLines project is a development of a similarly named composition from my Hidden Music album (2011) – a set of works that employ digital technologies to convert biological processes into musical compositions. In BloodLines (2011), daily blood results during my treatment for leukaemia are translated into an electronic composition with each second of music representing a day of treatment. In this way the blood cells (and their progress through various states of health) are delegated compositional responsibility to form an autobiological work, and the complex and hidden progression of the disease made audible. The 2013 BloodLines project uses this as a foundation on which to build a lecture-performance work exploring the dramaturgy of bone marrow transplant. Through collaboration with my sister (and bone-marrow donor) writer Dr. Alex Mermikides, haemotologists Dr. Van De Velde (Belgium) and Dr. MacDonald (UK) and digital animator/artist Dr. Tanczos - a lecture presentation/performance is created which aims to: i) Explain to a wider audience the biological mechanism of leukaemia, treatment, bone marrow matching and transplant. ii) Adopts these biological mechanisms in script-devising, composition, visualisation and choreography. iii) Reflect upon on the Mermikides’ personal experience, and provide a voice for other people’s experience of leukaemia and bone marrow transplant by using interviews with doctors, donors and recipients. BloodLines is supported by the AHRC-funded Science Through Art (STA) international research network (established by my sister and I in January 2013) which aims to disseminate the project by providing a forum for knowledge exchange and discussion among a multi-disciplinary network of academics, arts/science practitioners, doctors, patients and the wider public. BloodLines has scheduled performances at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, Antwerp University (Belgium), the European Bone Marrow Conference and the Dana Centre, Science Museum. A video of the Dana Centre premiere can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmQRrs3UsS4&feature=player_embedded

  • Mermikides MJ. (2012) The Escher Café..


    The Escher Café is a composition for quintet and electronics and is based on a series of M.C. Escher engravings. In this work I aim to employ compositional techniques (including instrumental and timbral polymeter, metric and scale illusion, motif tesselation and apart-playing) to create musical analogues to the visual illusions in the Escher works. Commissioned by the Living Room in London ensemble, it has been performed by them internationally. The piece has been performeances across Europe with performances in Kings Place (London), Exeter (UK), Manchester (UK) Zwetti (Austria), Innsbruck (Austria), Seekirchen (Austria), Ziri (Austria), Wein (Austria), Passau (Germany), Liepzig (Germany) and Berlin (Germany). http://livingroominlondon.com/

  • Mermikides MJ. (2011) Hidden Music: Sonic Translations of the Biological World.


    As composer and producer of this 7-track digital album (2011), I am exploring the field of data sonification in that digital audio technology is employed in the systemized translation of biological processes to sound design. As an example, Primal Sound (Track 1) - inspired by Rilke’s 1919 Ur-Geräusch – converts the contour of a coronal suture into musical data thereby “tricking the phonographic needle”. Other data sources include MRI brain scans, blood cell populations during my treatment for leukaemia, microbacterial DNA and tree-ring cycles. Each track involved collaboration with experts and institutions in the relevant field, in order to inform the compositional process, as documented in the accompanying 6,000 word liner notes. The field of data sonification has found resurgence with recent developments in digital audio technology, compositional models and in its theoretical paradigms (e.g. Fernstrom 2009 and Walker & Nees 2011), and this project aims to explore this newly-found potential. Key questions: i) How can traditional and electronic composition, data sonification and collaboration with non-musician scientists most effectively interact? ii) How can one fulfill Hermann’s 4 criteria for sonification (Hermann 2008) and produce work that is engaging to a range of listeners, reflective of the biological process and informative to ‘standard’ compositional practice? iii) Can a work resulting from data sonification be useful beyond its philosophical underpinning, i.e. work as music, disassociated from its origin, and requiring no explanation? Compositional insights and developments include: i) Isologos – the large-scale composition derived from heterogenous translation of a single contour). ii) A complex colour/DNA ‘synaesthetic’ mapping system. iii) A ‘trajectory’ technique of deriving multiple data curves from 3-dimensional structures. iv) The creation of works which engage a range of audiences internationally in sound installations, music and science conferences, and as autonomous pieces (used in TV, radio and film) divorced from an explanatory context. Key questions: i) How can traditional and electronic composition, data sonification and collaboration with non-musician scientists most effectively interact? ii) How can one fulfill Hermann’s 4 criteria for sonification (Hermann 2008) and produce work that is engaging to a range of listeners, reflective of the biological process and informative to ‘standard’ compositional practice? iii) Can

  • Mermikides MJ, Gregson P. (2010) Terminal.


    Funded by Bowes & Wilkins and Real World Studios: CD and concert programme of new works for electric and acoustic solo cello performed by international artist Peter Gregson, and a new production of Cello Counterpoint, endorsed by its composer Steve Reich. Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. Role: Co-composer, Co-producer and Live Electronics Performer. Collaborator: Cellist Peter Gregson (Co-composer and co-producer) Release Society of Sound April 2010. Performances: Bowes & Wilkins/Real World Records album launch The Hospital, Club, London. Subsequent concerts in Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh and King’s Place, London. Subsequent release on Cabin Baggage records (2009) and iTunes (2010) http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/terminal/id386287881

  • Mermikides MJ. (2009) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Soundtrack (22mins).


    Role: Composer, audio producer and sound-designer.This is the trailer for the planetarium film 'Wake up and Smell the Coffee'........ a 25 minute animation about the journey of caffeine through the human body. Looking at some basic chemistry and then travelling down into the body, through cell membranes, into the blood stream and into the brain. In the brain it travels past neurons and interacts with adenosine receptors, having the effect of making us more alert. Content aimed at AS/A2 biology. Available to see on request at INTECH science centre, Winchester this show could come to a planetarium near you!! contact me for further details. Voice: James Vargus Sound: Milton Mermikides In Association with: University of Surrey SEEDA British Science Association INTECH Science Centre Wake up and Smell the Coffee is a SEEDA and INTECH funded planetarium film with animation and scientific supervision by Dr. Anna Tanczos and Dr. Martin Bellwood. This film uses the planetarium medium as an opportunity to engage creatively with the biological rather than astronomical world, tracking through digital animation the passage of a caffeine molecule from cup to alertness. As composer for this project, I aimed to apply theoretical models founded in jazz and electronic improvisational analysis to film scoring practice. I have been developing the concepts of multi-dimensional musical space (M-Space) and proximity of musical events within it, in the context of jazz analysis, pedagogy and creative practice but they are re-employed here in a reciprocal fashion: the motion and colour of biological entities in the planetarium space are mapped onto a host of consyncronous musical parameters (Mermikides 2010) to form a synaesthetic immersive audio-visual work. The research aims of this project are to: i) Explore data sonification, compositional and sound design techniques based on M-Space - an extension of Pressing’s (Pressing 1987) improvisational model - enabled through digital technology. ii) To explore – through collaboration with Tanczos – compositional techniques informed directly by biological processes (Walker & Nees 2011), rather than adopting a standard anthropocentric film-scoring paradigm. The film and score has been screened in planetaria internationally, and the developed M-Space model disseminated in jazz, musicological and art/science conference, symposia and public event. Subsequent application and development of these scoring techniques, in collaboration with T

  • Mermikides MJ. (2008) Martino Unstrung (Soundtrack, 82 minutes).


    Role: Composer and researcher. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, this full–length film documents the life of internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Pat Martino. The composer role allowed direct collaboration with Martino, research (presented at the Royal Musical Association, UCL, British Library and in an OUP publication) into the rhythmic and motivic aspects of his improvisational style, and an engagement with the field of music neuroscience. Martino, an established jazz guitar pioneer suffered a severe aneurism in 1980, and his resulting amnesia devastated his career. His subsequent return to virtuosity (by “relearning from his own recordings”) is a compelling story and well received (“Perhaps the finest documentary abut a jazz musician ever made” Vic Shermer, All About Jazz, 2008) with the film disseminated widely. Key research questions in this project: i) What can be learned about Martino’s improvisational strategies, micro-timing expression and melodic interpretation concepts - which he feels unable to articulate - through detailed digital audio analyses of multiple takes of one piece? ii) How can Martino’s theoretical concepts (Martino 2004, 2005) be implemented effectively in a film score composition stylistically divorced from the jazz idiom? Key insights include the identification of latency contours, micro-timing iso-placement and melodic shadowing in his improvisational style, described in my paper Temporal Plasticity which has been disseminated at international jazz conferences and events including Smithsonian Jazz Appreciation Month at the Rubin Museum (New York), the Leeds International Jazz Conference, Rhythm Changes (Amsterdam) the British Library and in a chapter in the forthcoming 2013 publication Music and Shape (OUP). The project gathers the diverse disciplines of jazz improvisation, electronic composition, data sonification, jazz history and neuroscience into an accessible and engaging commercial output. The screenings at film festivals, and at jazz and neuroscience conferences has engaged a wide, otherwise disparate, audience. Movie website: http://www.martinounstrung.com

Other publications

  • Mermikides MJ. (2014) Texas Blues.


    Survey, analysis and pedagogy of key Texas Blues guitarists.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) Chicago Blues. Future Publishing


    Survey, analysis and pedagogy of key Chicago Blues guitarists.

  • Mermikides MJ. (2013) Classic Jazz. Future Publishing


    Survey, analysis and pedagogy of key Classic Jazz Guitar styles.


  • Mermikides MJ. (2015) Hidden Music. Lewis Elton Gallery:


    Hidden Music is an exhibition of works by Milton Mermikides in the field of data sonification: the translation of data into musical compositions. Listen to the inherent musical patterns in sleep cycles, blood cell populations, microbacterial DNA, tree-ring cycles, the shape of the human skull, MRI scans, tidal waves, planetary orbits and many other biological and physical phenomena. These works (dating from 2004-2014) have been exhibited internationally (including the Science Museum and Royal College of Surgeons), featured in the Times Higher Education Supplement and are the result of collaborations in a wide range of disciplines. The introductory talk will include an update on the Sound Asleep project, an ongoing collaboratio (supported by the X-faculty award) with eminent sleep scientists Prof Debra Skene(Surrey), Dr Renata Rhia (Edinburgh) and Dr. Vlad Vyazovskiy (Oxford) exploring the artistic and practical applications of the conversion of sleep patterns into sound, which will also be presented as a keynote in the upcoming British Sleep Society conference at the Sage, Gateshead in October 215 Surrey Collaborators include Professor Debra Skene (FHMS) Dr Simon Park (Department of Microbial and Cellular Sciences) Yurubi Rosales Suarez & Professor Paul Krause (Department of Computing) Vince Emery (Immunology) Rob Scott (Astrophysics)

Theses and dissertations

  • Lewis K. (2018) Mothers and sisters : instrument and idiom in the music of Maybelle Carter, Memphis Minnie and sister Rosetta Tharpe..
    [ Status: Approved ]


    This thesis contains a set of studies analysing the idiotechne, or individual playing style, of three pioneering female popular guitar players: Maybelle Carter (1909-1978); Memphis Minnie (1897-1973); and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973). The main aim of the thesis is to identify and examine how these seminal artists operated within, and contributed to, their respective genres and in so doing, expand the current field of idiotechne studies of guitarists in American popular music. An examination of these particular players will also contribute to a more comprehensive and gender-inclusive history of the instrument. The study begins with a critical review of the relevant scholarly literature surrounding the popular guitar, an introduction to the main subjects, and a discussion of the analytical methods used within the study. The thesis offers a framework for popular guitar idiotechne analysis, based on Moore’s theories of idiolect identification (2005; 2012), in particular the assessment of a player’s interaction within, and beyond, their stylistic context. As such, the study of each player in this thesis is supported by relevant historical sources (Boyer 1979; Evans 1982; 2001; Heilbut 2002; Malone 2010), in order to demonstrate how these players operated within their styles, as well as introduced approaches that were later adopted within general guitaristic and musical practice. The three main chapters of the thesis contain extensive technical analyses supported by original transcriptions. Key attributes for each player are identified and examined, including 1) Maybelle Carter’s modular comping patterns, integrated thumb-lead style, and melodic shadowing, 2) Memphis Minnie’s melodic mapping, master and seed riffs, and creative engagement with call-and-response, and 3) Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s active comping, master chords and riffs, and musical and performative gestures. The final section of the thesis reviews the main findings of the project, and offers suggestions for further research.

  • Williams T. (2017) Strategy in contemporary jazz improvisation : theory and practice..
    [ Status: Approved ]


    The ability to improvise is one of the most demanding for a jazz musician, and “one of the most complex forms of creative behaviour” (Beaty, 2015). Jazz musician accounts attest to this, describing how improvisation is fraught by “limitless challenges under tremendous pressure” (Berliner 1994:239). In mastering such a skill, a musician must be able to navigate musical space efficiently, carving out novel pathways through harmonic, melodic, timbral, and structural units of organisation, whilst simultaneously responding to interaction within the ensemble, gestural cues, and constructing a dynamic arc to the improvisation. While the importance of improvisation to a contemporary jazz musician cannot be understated, its inception and development as a cognitive skill is not completely understood. How does a musician learn to improvise? How does a musician form a vocabulary or style of improvising? To what extent is an improviser relying on pre-learned patterns, vocabulary, and schema? Why is it that the majority of expert level improvisers are unable to explain the development of their improvisations? What then are musicians really thinking about when they improvise? The research conducted draws focus on these issues, providing a new model of the generative mechanisms involved in improvising. Through an in-depth theoretical modelling and analysis of improvisational strategies, and a heuristically led practical study, this thesis addresses how concept based improvisational strategies might be adopted and assimilated. The focus of this study lies in the post-bebop contemporary jazz landscape and aims to demonstrate how strategy based generative mechanisms are developed and used in improvisatory practice. The theoretical underpinning of this thesis amalgamates recent research in improvisation cognition (including research by Martin Norgaard, Philip Johnson-Laird and Aaron Berkowitz), existing musical treatise,psychological studies and seminal jazz scholarship accounts of improvisatory practice. The second half of this thesis is a practice led inquiry, framed around contemporary jazz fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz and the assimilation of his use of strategy based generative mechanisms.


Composition (acoustic and computer-based)
Digital Improvisation
Studio Techniques
Advanced Popular Music Harmony
World Music

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