Dr David Prior

Job title
Associate Professor, Music
01326 255924

I am a musician, an artist and an academic. Through these roles I write music, both for other people to play, and in the studio, as well as collaboratively and alone. I sometimes record, produce, mix and remix music for others too. I make radio programmes, create sound installations and design sound environments for exhibition spaces. After my first degree in Music and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Bangor, I completed a PhD in music at the University of Birmingham, studying with the composer Jonty Harrison. From 1996-01, I completed residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada, Les Ateliers UPIC, Paris and the Technisches Universität, Berlin where I was a guest of the DAAD, before becoming a lecturer at Dartington College of Arts in 2001.

In 2009 I wrote the BA(Hons) Creative Music Technology award and took up an associate professorship in September 2010. In this role, I lead the SONVA research group, supervise nine PhD students and lead undergraduate courses in Sound Design and Phonographies, while contributing to a range of other courses. I have taught widely across the UK, as well as in Germany, Finland, Portugal, Iceland and the USA. I am a partner in Liminal, a studio established in 2003 with architect Frances Crow, which explores the relationship between sound, environment and listening. Liminal's recent work has included site-specific sound walks and gallery installations. We have also been lead artists on masterplanning projects in both urban environments such as the Warwick Bar Project Birmingham, and rural contexts such as the Cotswold Water Park 20 year strategic plan. From 2008-10 Liminal led a multi-disciplinary research project in partnership with Sustrans, funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project investigated notions of tranquility with a team comprising a clinical audiologist, a computational neuroscientist, an acoustician specialising in road traffic noise and Arup Acoustics SoundLab. A proposal based on the research from that project lead to Liminal winning the PRS Foundation New Music Award in September 2010 with our piece, Organ of Corti. This piece went on to win the John Connell Innovation Award (2011) and an honorary mention at Prix Ars Electronica (2012).

I was head sound designer for the multi-award winning Imperial War Museum's Churchill Museum and have created sound environments for the British Library (UK), The Thomas Jefferson Museum (USA), The New York Historical Society (USA), The National Maritime Museum (UK), Heartlands, Cornwall (UK) and the Guinness Storehouse (IRL), to name a few. In the past year I have also mixed the music for films including The Way of The Morris (dir Tim Plester) and The Domino Effect (dir Paula van der Oest, 2012), both with music by Adrian Corker. My own music spans commissions for solo performers and ensembles, as well as studio pieces with our without acoustic instruments. 

My musical output is released under my own name, as well as through two collaborative music projects: Derailer (with John Matthias) and Arcades (with Dugal McKinnon). Recent musical projects include the Arcades album Who's Most Lost?, released on Rattle Music in November 2011 and Hemlock, a commission from the Dutch ensemble Lunapark, which was premiered at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam in January 2012. My music has been performed and broadcast around Europe and North America and has won a number of international competitions including Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition, Cornelius Cardew Prize, E.A.R (Hungarian Radio), and the George Butterworth prize.


YearQualificationAwarding body
University of Birmingham
University of Wales, Bangor

Honours and awards


Phonurgia Nova, France
Organ of Corti (Frances Crow and David Prior) - Runner Up


Prix Ars Electronica, Ars Electronica, Linz
Organ of Corti (Frances Crow and David Prior) - Honorary Mention, Digital Music and Sound Art category


John Connell Innovation Award, Noise Abatement Society, UK
Organ of Corti (Frances Crow and David Prior) - Winner


PRS Foundation New Music Award, UK
Organ of Corti (Frances Crow and David Prior) - Winner


Stipendienurkende, DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), Berlin
Stipend to study for one year at the Technisches Universitat, Berlin


Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition,
Bourges IMEB (Institute International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges)

an die Materie - Finalist


George Butteworth Prize, George Butterworth Foundation Dense - Winner

The George Butterworth prize was awarded annually by the artistic director of the SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music) for a piece programmed that artistic season. 'Dense' had been performed as part of the State of the Nation festival at the South Bank Centre, London that year and the award was nominated by Howard Skempton, artistic director for 1997-98.


EAR, Hungarian Radio International Electroacoustic Music Competition
Hungarian Radio Awards
an die Materie - Second Prize


Bourges International Electroacoustic Composition Competition,
Bourges IMEB (Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges)

Somewhere Submarine (for Piano and Tape) - Honorary Mention in the Instrument and Tape category


Cornelius Cardew Composition Competition,
Cornelius Cardew Trust

Somewhere Submarine (For Piano and Tape) - Joint Winner


Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition,
Bourges IMEB (Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges)

Dense - Prix de Residence Winner

Research interests

Research interests and expertise

My research is focused on the relationship between sound and space. My background as an electroacoustic composer strongly informs this theme, and I continue to create pieces for instruments, fixed media and live electronics, which explore the use of space as a fundamental parameter of the composition. Recent work in this area has concentrated on binaural, headphone-based pieces as well as multi-channel performances and installations for a variety of formats including ambisonics. Current work also includes the exploration of the direct manipulation of acoustics as a means of composition.

Research centre and group affiliations


Research topics

Sound Installation
Sound Design
Site Specific Sound
Exhibition Sound Design
Electroacoustic Music

Research outputs

Publications and research outputs

Conference or Workshop Item

Prior, David (2013) Art from the Archive. In: Sensuous Knowledge, 23 - 25 January 2013, Bergen, Norway. Item not available from this repository.


Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2013) Chroma: Interactions of Noise. [Exhibition]

Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2013) Of This Parish. [Exhibition] Item not available from this repository.

Prior, David (2013) Underground: Sculpting with Voices. [Exhibition]

Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2011) Organ of Corti. [Exhibition]

Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2006) Warwick Bar Masterplan: lead artist. [Exhibition]

Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2005) The Churchill Museum: Sound Design. [Exhibition]

Prior, David and Crow, Frances (2003) Swash. [Exhibition]


Prior, David and McKinnon, Dugal (2007) Arcades - Who's Most Lost? [Composition]


Prior, David (2009) Black Water Brown Water. [Media]

Research students

Current research students

I am currently supervising eight research students

Previous student supervision

I have supervised five PhD students to completion

Research degrees examined

I have examined five research degrees