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I joined Music at Edinburgh in September 2007 after postgraduate research at Open University and University of Cambridge, and a teaching post at the University of East London. During my BMus degree at City University, London, I studied classical viola performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and took weekly classes in North Indian classical music performance with Prof. Gerry Farrell. I subsequently studied as a sitar student of Pandit Arvind Parikh in Mumbai, India. From 2002 to 2007, I busked regularly and led workshops in North Indian music for schools and community music projects. I enjoy everyday music making with local ensembles and friends. I play viola with ensembles in Edinburgh and Glasgow including Edimpro, Grey Area and Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and occasional concerts with ensembles including Orchestra of the Canongait.

My teaching and research reflect my fascination with the relationship between musical performance and everyday social interaction. I specialise in the study of musicians’ communicative behaviour and have published theoretical and original empirical research in this area. My work combines fieldwork and ethnography, with controlled experimental design, and has included projects involving expert classical North Indian duos, jazz and free improvisers, and western classical ensembles and conductors.

At Edinburgh, I have developed courses and curricula that reflect issues that I’ve come to understand through my research - to do with the role of conventional music literacy in HE and music scholarship, access and opportunity in music education; and concerning critical approaches to scientific and public discourse around music. I teach various core and elective courses, and supervise a number of postgraduate students. 

I am a scientific committee member of the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD), and a Visiting Researcher at Durham University for the AHRC-funded Interpersonal Entrainment In Musical Performance Project (2016-18). 

I have taken two periods of maternity leave from 2010-11 and 2014-15. 

Research Interests

  • Music as social interaction
  • Musical performance and the cognitive sciences
  • Musicians’ communicative behaviour
  • Psychology of music/embodied music cognition
  • Oral/improvised music performance

Current interests include scientific discourse around music, and the ways in which core conceptualisations of practice and listening in this domain come to interact with ideas (and values) about music in policy and educational settings.

Previously, my doctoral research with North Indian musicians combined methods of ethnography and video analysis. This work is published as a chapter in the edited book, Experience and Meaning in Music Performance (OUP, 2013), and in the journal Psychology of Music, ‘Music, bodies and relationships: An ethnographic contribution to embodied cognition studies’ (2013).

The subsequent ‘Improvising Duos’ project was funded through awards from British Academy and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, and facilitated by resources of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, in collaboration with Prof. Peter Keller. We used motion capture to record duo improvisations by jazz and free improvising musician duos. Findings from our original experiment are reported in PLoSONE, ‘Perception of 'back-channeling' nonverbal feedback in musical duo improvisation’ (Moran et al. 2015).

This project also generated an original dataset of kinematic and audio recordings, published in DataShare (Moran & Keller, 2016). Recently, this corpus and related research have been developed as part of my Visiting Fellowship on the AHRC project, Interpersonal Entrainment in Musical Performance (2016-18) at Durham University, UK.

Past doctoral student projects include research into the kinematics of ensemble conducting (Yu-Fen Huang), cross-cultural perception of symbolic representation of musical sounds (Athanasopoulos), and social experiences in sitar/tabla co-performance (Cooper).

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Measuring Musical Meaning: analysing communication in embodied musical behaviour, Open University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Master of Music, Interaction in and as North Indian classical music, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2002

Bachelor of Music, City University London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001


  • M Music
  • Performance
  • Improvisation
  • BF Psychology
  • Social interaction
  • Nonverbal behaviour
  • Communication

College Research Themes

  • Data and Digital
  • Health and Wellbeing


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