Alan  Taylor Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Alan Taylor


After years as a composer and community musician, I now do research on the musical imagination and musical meaning making. My work consists primarily of digesting a wide range of research and writing summaries aimed at lay audiences and syntheses of research aimed at academic audiences. The main subjects I have investigated are how the musical imagination works, how imaginative work can be shared in collaborative projects, and audience story-perception in music.

Subjects: Music


After a career as a geography academic, civil servant, local government officer, political activist, and marathon runner, I began to play instruments, compose, and organise musical activities when I ceased to be employed in 1996. I studied composition with Michael Finnissy and John Woolrich and in 2010 gained a composition MMus at Trinity-Laban, where I studied with Andrew Poppy, Errollyn Wallen, Gwyn Pritchard, and Paul Newland. During that time I completed an Erasmus Fellowship at ESMUC in Barcelona.

In 2018 I completed a PhD on the subject of shared artistic creation as a musical composer, and since then I’ve continued to study the theoretical background to imaginative work and collaborative practice in music, publishing academic papers and speaking at conferences. This has culminated in the publication of my first book.

I conduct the London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra and one of the ensembles of the London Consorts of Winds, and perform in other groups. I founded the Herne Hill Music Festival in 2011, and we are currently planning the 10th Festival. I travel extensively in France and Spain, helped by speaking the languages. I go for long country walks and extended cycling trips, having crossed France and Spain by bike six times on different routes.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    The musical imagination
    Collaboration in imaginative work
    Meaning making from music
    Story perception in music

Personal Interests

    French language and culture
    Spanish language and culture
    County walking
    Long-distance cycling
    Community music making



Featured Title
 Featured Title - The Imagination and Musical Experiences - 1st Edition book cover


Music & Practice

Death of the composer? Making meanings from musical performance

Published: Apr 05, 2020 by Music & Practice
Authors: Alan Taylor
Subjects: Music

Composers are often seen as the makers of musical meaning, but this does not fit with what we know of the compositional process. I examine evidence on the working of the imagination, review debates on artists as the source of meaning, and summarise a study of meaning making by audiences from my own pieces. I propose a model of meaning making from music in which meaning arises from listener perceptions of music as analogous to human experience.

Contemporary Music Review

‘Collaboration’ in Contemporary Music: A Theoretical View

Published: Dec 12, 2016 by Contemporary Music Review
Authors: Alan Taylor
Subjects: Music

Contemporary composers often work with other artists. The paper presents an analysis of the factors which affect these working relationships. Four different types of relationship are defined. This typology can help in understanding of the relationships which composers establish and a stimulate the further development of compositional practice. The relationship between the language of an art form and that of communication between partners is a key factor.


Targeting the academic audience

By: Alan Taylor
Subjects: Applied Arts & Music, Music

One section of the potential readership for my book, The Imagination of Experiences, consists of music academics and their students. My target is to ensure that the book is a standard entry in higher education music libraries where English is spoken or understood. 

I began to send details of the book to UK academics in mid February, and received many positicve replies promising to order the book. I then targetted academics in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Aftrica. 

Other European countries where English is widely understood come next, and then the big task - emailing US universities.