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Dr Paul Fretwell

Senior Lecturer in Music


Paul Fretwell is a composer of instrumental and electronic music.  He researches and teaches on both these topics.

Paul Fretwell is a composer of instrumental and electronic music.  He began his compositional career at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, where he was awarded a full scholarship, and composed a range of pieces for small ensembles to full orchestra.  He also took a strong interest in the performance of contemporary music and played many concerts of twentieth-century piano repertoire, including Stockhausen, Cage, and Takemitsu.  He later attended the University of Birmingham, where he first encountered electroacoustic music, and composed a series of works which were performed on the BEAST system (Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre) in concerts across the UK.   He completed his Masters and Doctorate in Composition at City University, London, with Denis Smalley. 

His first major acousmatic work, Asklepion (1999), was awarded an honourable mention in the final of the III Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica, São Paulo, Brazil, a work which went on to receive other international performances and broadcasts. Subsequently, he has received many commissions and performances of his work nationally and internationally. His collaborative work with Dr Ambrose Field (York University) has been heard at the ICMC2006 (New Orleans) and ICMC2007 (Copenhagen), as well as around the UK. This project culminated in Northern Loop (2013), which has recently been released on the Sargasso label.  His most recent work, King’s Cross (2014), has quickly gained international acclaim, and has been awarded a final place in two international, peer-reviewed competitions: the KLANG! électroacoustique competition (France) and the "Città di Udine" composition competition (Italy).

He has a wide range of teaching experience, and has worked at the Royal Academy of Music, City University, the University of Hertfordshire and Bath Spa University.  During 2009-2013 he was Head of Music and Audio Arts at the University of Kent, and was central to the development of new undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in music.  He has worked as an external examiner at many other institutions, including the University of York, Middlesex University, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of East London.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Fretwell, P. and Field, A. Northern Loop. [CD recording].
Fretwell, P. (2013). Étune No. 1. [audio recording].
Fretwell, P. Ghosts of King's Cross (2008) female voice and electroacoustic sound. [score and recording of performance].
Fretwell, P. from the cold (2008) female voice and electroacoustic sound. [score and recording of performance].
Fretwell, P. Wall of Stone (2007) Female voice and four percussionists with megaphones. [score and recording of performance].
Total publications in KAR: 5 [See all in KAR]
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Water Music(2010), for orchestra and school children, PRS Foundation commission for the St Albans Rehearsal Orchestra and the children of Skyswood School, conduction by William Carslake.

  • Performed: Sandpit Theatre, St Albans, 30 June 2010
  • Broadcast: BBC Radio 3 (14 Oct 2010)

Entrance / Exit Music (2010). Electroacoustic, solo laptop performance

  • Handel House Museum, London, 22 April 2010

Recast (2009). Collaboration with Dr Colin Riley, Brunel University. For Piano Circus and live electronics

  • First Performance: King’s Place, London, 9 June 2009

King’s Cross Loop (2008). Electroacoustic / solo laptop performance

  • First Performance: King’s Place, London , 11 Nov 2008.

Ghosts of King’s Cross (2008). Female voice and electroacoustic sound: Society for the Promotion of New Music commission

  • First performance: King’s Place, London, with Loré Lixenberg, 5 Oct 2008.  

from the cold (2008). Female voice and electroacoustic sound: Society for the Promotion of New Music commission

  • First performance: Soundwaves Festival, Brighton, with Loré Lixenberg, 28 June 2008.

Wall of Stone(2007). for female voice, four percussionists and megaphones, SPNM commission

  • Performed: London and Manchester (9-10 Feb 2007)
  • Broadcast:  BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3 (8 Feb, 7 April 2007).

Jack Chorale / Northern Loop / Southern Loop (2004-2007) an evolving collaborative project with Ambrose Field. Live electroacoustic performance using laptops with real-time video. 


  • Sound Junction III, Sheffield, in February 2005,
  • Sonic Arts Network Expo 966 conference, June 2005
  • York SightSonic Festival, October 2006
  • New Orleans, International Computer Music Conference, Nov 2006
  • Copenhagen, International Computer Music Conference, August 2007

Asklepion (1999) electroacoustic work

Many international performances; awarded an honourable mention in the final of the III Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica, São Paul, Brazil, 1999; IV International Festival of Electroacoustic Music, Santiago, Chile, 2004 This piece was also performed and used as a teaching model at the Darmstadt International Summer School 2001. Broadcast on French Radio in September and October 2002

Two of my works are available on CD (Doors Close and A Fragmented History, on Audio Research Editions, HOPE: ARECD101 and TRACE: ARECD102).

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Paul Fretwell currently contributes to the following core modules: Music and Composition 1; Music and Composition 2; Sound Design 1; final-year Dissertation and Project.  He also teaches the specialist options: Music Arrangement and Music and Society.

Throughout all of his modules he encourages students to engage with a wide variety of music, demonstrating that all music (whether popular or art music, Western or non-Western) has something important to teach us.  He also explores the impact of sound technology on how we create and experience music, using examples from throughout the twentieth century to the present day.

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Paul Fretwell’s research focuses on music composition.  His current work explores the tensions and oppositions between the instrumental and electronic approaches to composition and performance.  These divisions are often cultural, rather than specifically musical (for example, performance venue, audience, etiquette).  Historical styles and previous musical traditions are also an important factor.  He enjoys creating works that play with musical references from different musical eras, as well as works that blur the boundaries between formal concert, club environment and background music.

During 2006-2009, he was a shortlisted composer for the Society for the Promotion of New Music.  Shortlisted composers are chosen through a process of application and interview by a panel of independent experts, practitioners and academics.  During this period, his music was publicised and promoted by the SPNM / Sound and Music. 

In 2009 he was selected for the Performing Rights Society Foundation Adopt-a-Composer Scheme.  ‘Adopt-a-Composer’ is one of the PRS Foundation’s flagship schemes, which pairs composers with amateur music-making groups.  Projects run over the course of a year, during which a substantial work is developed with a performance and broadcast on Radio 3.

He is also an executive member and event curator for Music Orbit, which organizes concerts, events and workshops across the UK.  Funded by the PRS Foundation and Brunel University, this group is a network for innovative musicians.

His research also encompasses matters that focus on contemporary sound technology.  During 2007-2009, he was an executive member of the Spatial Audio Creative Engineering Network, an EPSRC-funded group in connection with the Universities of York and Surrey.  SpACE-Net was set up to bring together a community of spatial audio researchers, practitioners and artists, drawn from the fields of science, audio engineering and the arts.

In June 2009 he organized a one-day symposium at the University of Kent entitled Interactivity and the Audio Arts, with Francois Pachet (Sony Computer Science Laboratory, Paris) as the keynote speaker.

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I am interested in supervising research students in areas relating to music composition.  I specialize in both instrumental and electronic composition, and have a particular interest in how we appreciate or understand our experience of music.

My current research student is Fabio Paolizzo, who is developing an interactive music system that uses data from video images to process sound.

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Last Updated: 21/07/2015