Recent Research

Following the successful completion of my doctorate (see below), I pursued a number of areas of practice-based research related to my developing practice as a composer/performer.

Collaboration with Dance

Some questions I have been addressing (which also apply to my practice as a musician):

1) How can music work best in conjunction with dance?

2) What can music add to dance, and vice versa?

3) What can these performing arts express that words alone cannot?

4) Can music (and/or dance) express a narrative?

My work in these areas has been pursued through continued collaboration with a range of dancers in different projects.

Throughout 2014 I established, with three dancers, the performing group Avid for Ovid, which was born of a University of Oxford investigation into the expression of narrative in Ancient Roman dance.

I have also worked with Butoh dancers to establish a Butoh dance group, When My Grandfather Was a Fish. With a roster including dancers Flavia Coube, Paola Esposito, and Ana Barbour, the group’s inaugural performance took place at the Bath Festival, in 2014. Since then, we have focused on an ongoing collaboration interpreting the poetry of Mohan Rana (see below).

In 2013 I was a key participant in a project organised by Jennifer Jackson of Surrey University. Called Dancing the Invisible, the project explored how the older dancer moves.

Collaboration with Other Art Forms

The DEC project extended the idea of collaboration between dancer and musician to include visual artists, attempting to explore techniques inherent in each art form that could be dynamically shared among all three.

The Relation of Text and Music

I am interested in the effect of music on words and, more specifically, what it adds to the delivery of poetry and other literary genres. This derives partly from my interest in ancient literature, and partly from my belief that the European world (from the invention of printing,) has become obsessed with seeing literature on the page and losing, in this development, the power of communication through the use of movement and sound accompanying the delivery of text.

I have explored this idea through Avid for Ovid and the DEC project, as well as in earlier work on Greek Tragedy, but also used it as the basis of collaborations with poets. Most recently I have been setting to music the work of Mohan Rana, exploring the resonance of his poems through musical commentary (often in conjunction with dance through the group When my Grandfather was a Fish).

Poem settings are accessible through my Soundcloud area Words and Music.

A more extended discussion of this subject will be available soon on the page Words and Music.

Research into Experimental Music Traditions

‘Cage is Dead,’ a talk on John Cage, was part of “Silencing the Silence,” a symposium organised by CARU (Contemporary Arts Research Unit). My talk was subsequently published at Vibrations Art Journal.

In February 2014, I spoke and performed at another symposium organised by CARU, “Nothing in Art.” For my presentation, ‘Why Morton Feldman is good for nothing,’ I showed a film of unfolding texts by Morton Feldman and played a piano accompaniment of music either by Feldman or dedicated to him. There was a very positive review given by art critic Sarah Mayhew Craddock. A film derived from this is planned for next year.


I successfully completed a doctorate, researching the boundaries of improvisation and composition, in 2010.

The first volume of that research can be found at Malcolm Atkins – Exploring the boundaries of Improvisation and Composition Volume 1.

The second volume was a listing of supporting material. That listing is included below, combined with the detailed listing given at the start of Volume 1 above. Web locations of this material will be added as it is made available on the internet:

Core Submissions

Sound Recordings:

Core CD 01
Core Audio Submission 01 Accession Part 1

Track Section Name
No No
01 1 Fanfares, Warnings, Promises 5.28 mins
02 2 Estonia (or Threshold) 7.45
03 3 Torture Chamber 6.48
04 4 A Fantastic edifice 3.49
05 5 A moment of doubt 2.50
06 6 Armoury 7.33
07 7 Between War and Wealth (or Got anything nice ?) 4.27
08 8 Treasury 7.09
09 9 Entrance to the Garden 5.00
09 10 (Garden from 2.06 s)
10 11 Death of Europe 7.42
11 12 Requiem 3.33
12 13 The Extent of my Domains 6.18
Total 68.22 mins
Core CD 02 (CD as released by Oxford Improvisers)
Core Audio Submission 02 Accession Part 2

Track Section Name
No No
01 14 Bulgaria (or Do I recall that melody?)
02 15 Lake of Tears
03 16 Springtime behind the Slaughterhouse
04 17 Accession
05 18 Doubt
06 19 Summit
07 20 On Parting
Total 36.44

Core CD 03
Core Audio Submissions 03 and 04
Track Name
01 Do Geese See God 17.41
02 Paradise Purgatory and Pandemonium 9.45
Total 27.26

Total core audio time 132.32 ms

Other referenced recordings are included in the example submissions

Video Recordings

Core DVD 01

Core Video Submission 01 October in Oxford 7.28
Core Video Submission 02 Reconstruction 3 7.26
Core Video Submission 03 Because I Love You 7.23

Core DVD 02

Core Video Submission 04 A Moonbeam Locked Up (Pierrot) film from performance at Chipping Norton theatre 41.28

Total video time: 63.45 ms

Example video recordings are listed in the appendices


Core Scores 01 Accession Scores
Core Scores 02 Do Geese See God
Core Scores 03 Paradise, Purgatory and Pandemonium

Other referenced scores are included in the example submissions

Example Submissions

(Timings are not included for these submissions as they are not for assessment.)

Sound Recordings

Example CD 01 – extracts and alternative versions of core works

01 ‘Treasury’ from Accession June 2005
02 Opening of ‘Estonia’ showing use of fragment conducted in and played by Bruno Guastalla.
03 Pat Thomas playing the opening of the ‘Bulgaria’ arranged
04 ‘Death of Europe’ from June performance of Accession
05 Disintegration of the Garden melody
06 first two minutes of ‘The Extent of my domains’
07 Do Geese See God opening
08 Do Geese See God ending
09 Do Geese See God start of middle section
10 Do Geese See God middle section showing improvising choir
11 ‘Mondestrunken’ studio recording
12 ‘Bohemian Crystal’ studio recording
13 ‘Red Mass’ from Pierrot performance May 2009
14 ‘Red Mass’ studio recording
15 ‘Night’ – Studio recording

Example CD 02 – other referenced performances

01 Theremin Concerto
02 AMV ‘Pange Lingua’
03 Oxford Improvisers quintet in concert
04 Oxford Improvisers plus Vahni Capildeo
05 Nonstop Tango ‘Sneer’
06 Malcolm Atkins improvisation with Smith Quartet 01 07 Malcolm Atkins improvisation with Smith Quartet 02
08 Malcolm Atkins improvisation with Smith Quartet 03
09 Malcolm Atkins, Pete McPhail, Miles Doubleday at Cohesion Festival

Example CD 03 – other referenced performances

01 Winterlight
02 ‘The Horse’
03 Nonstop Tango ‘ The Alphabet Song’

Video Recordings

Example DVD 01

01 Identity (extracts from performance at OVADA gallery)
02 ‘Night’ (recorded for Dispatx web site)
03 ‘Rousham’ (improvisation in a cave in Rousham Gardens)
04 Winterlight (Café Reason street performance)

Example DVD 02

01 Onomatomania last performance


Example Scores

01 Autumn Thoughts
02 Do Geese See God (original short score- full score submission is in Core Scores)