Professor Ronald Woodley

Research Professor of Music

Birmingham Conservatoire
c/o +44 (0)121 331 5925

After graduating with first-class honours from the University of Manchester, specializing in Musical Palaeography and Performance, and with Distinction in clarinet from the Royal Northern College of Music, Professor Ronald Woodley completed his DPhil in 15th-century music theory from Keble College, Oxford.

After holding academic lecturing appointments at Christ Church, Oxford, followed by the Universities of Liverpool, Newcastle and Lancaster, he moved into the conservatoire sector as Head of Postgraduate Studies & Research at the RNCM in 2001. He joined the Research Department of Birmingham Conservatoire in 2004 and served as Director of Research from 2010 to 2015. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Professor Woodley enjoys a wide-ranging career as musicologist and performer. As academic researcher, his main focus remains on the life and theoretical writings of the 15th-century musician and lawyer, Johannes Tinctoris; his ongoing internet resource devoted to Tinctoris, curated with his Conservatoire colleagues Dr Jeffrey J. Dean and David Lewis, is available at Professor Woodley’s pioneering Early Music Theory website.

He also has active research interests in areas of music in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially relating to performance, and has published on Ravel, Prokofiev, and Steve Reich. More recently he has been developing research projects centred on the pianist Ilona Eibenschütz and issues of pianistic style in the circles of Brahms and Clara Schumann in the late 19th century, and on the music of George Antheil, especially the violin sonatas of the 1920s and Antheil’s collaboration with the violinist Olga Rudge.

Beyond the academic realm, but still informed by it, Professor Woodley maintains an active role as performer, as both clarinettist and chamber pianist. He has commissioned or premiered many new works, including compositions by Roger Marsh, Christopher Fox, James Wishart, Steve Ingham, Stephen Pratt and Liz Johnson, and as pianist focuses especially on two-piano repertory, with both Andrew West and Roy Howat as partners, and on song repertories e.g. of Britten, Duparc and Schubert, especially with the tenor James Geer. He has recently recorded the York Bowen Phantasy-Quintet for bass clarinet and strings, and the premiere recording of the Josef Holbrooke Ballade for bass clarinet and piano, with John Thwaites and the Primrose Quartet, for release in 2016 on Meridian. He is at present collaborating with Liz Johnson on a new clarinet quintet Scintilla, for multiple clarinets (contrabass through to E flat) and string quartet, to be recorded for Divine Arts in 2016 with the Fitzwilliam Quartet.

  • DPhil (University of Oxford), 1982
  • MusB (University of Manchester), 1975
  • GRNCM (Royal Northern College of Music), 1975
  • ARNCM (Royal Northern College of Music), 1974
  • FRHistS
  • FSA
  • Fellow, Royal Historical Society (2007)
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London (2007)
  • Freeman, Worshipful Company of Musicians (2003)
  • Freeman, City of London (2009: formal admission pending)
  • Editorial Committee member, Plainsong and Medieval Music (Cambridge University Press)
  • Advisory Board member, The Computerised Mensural Music Editing Project (University of Utrecht)
  • Board member, Texts on Music in English (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).
  • Member, Royal Musical Association; American Musicological Society; Renaissance Society of America.
  • Member of AHRC Peer Review College, 2004–8
  • Member of AHRC Postgraduate Panel for Music and the Performing Arts, 2006–9.

Ron teaches on MUS7098 Historical Performance Practice and has examined externally since 1994 at the following:

  • PhD: Universities of Edinburgh, Lancaster, Bangor, Royal Academy of Music.
  • MPhil: Universities of Liverpool and Hull.
  • Undergraduate and taught postgraduate: Universities of Manchester, Cardiff, Bangor, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Ron's research interests include late medieval and early Renaissance music theory, notation, and manuscript studies, especially the writings of Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435–1511); 19th- and 20th-century music performance studies, especially repertories for clarinet, piano, voice, and chamber media, and currently centred on the pianist Ilona Eibenschütz and performing style in the circles of Brahms and Clara Schumann; early recordings, including Lieder; the work of George Antheil, especially his violin sonatas of the 1920s and collaboration with Olga Rudge; contemporary music performance (clarinet and piano).


‘The Proportionale musices of Iohannes Tinctoris: a critical edition, translation and study’, DPhil, University of Oxford, 1982.

Current research projects
  1. Johannes Tinctoris: Complete Theoretical Works: ongoing open-access internet resource on 15th-century music theory.
  2. Ilona Eibenschütz and pianism in the circles of Brahms and Clara Schumann.
  3. George Antheil’s Violin Sonatas and collaboration with Olga Rudge in the 1920s.
  4. Melography, Stenography, Tachygraphy: Musical Shorthands from Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century France.
  5. Collaboration with composer Liz Johnson in creation of new Clarinet Quintet Scintilla, for multiple clarinets and string quartet, with the Fitzwilliam Quartet (CD recording, Divine Art, July 2016). Also Liz Johnson songs, with Loré Lixenberg (mezzo-soprano), CD recording, Divine Art, May 2016; for release 2016–17. 
Grants and funding
  1. Arts & Humanities Research Council: Research Grant ‘The Complete Theoretical Works of Johannes Tinctoris: A New Digital Edition’, 2011–14 (£400K); Worshipful Company of Musicians, John Clementi Collard Fellowship, 2000–1 (£30K); Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, 2000–1 (£12K); Arts & Humanities Research Board, Research Leave, 2002 (£12K).

Also various commission funding for composers and first performances: see Activities above.

Postgraduate Supervision

Recent PhD completions (2011­– ):

  • Christian Goursaud - The Neapolitan Presentation Manuscripts of Tinctoris’s Music Theory: Valencia 835 and Bologna 2573’ (submitted 2015)
  • Adam Whittaker - ‘Musical Exemplarity in the Notational Treatises of Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435–1511)’ (submitted 2015)
  • Joanna Szalewska-Pineau - ‘Performing Szymanowski: A Pianist’s Perspective’ (2015)
  • David Baltuch - ‘Orchestral Conducting since 1950: A Comparative Analysis of Conducting Manuals, Practitioners’ Testimonies and Two Orchestral Performances’ (2014)
  • Andrew Thomas - ‘Journeys to Recover the Future: A Study of History, Ahistory and Narrative in an Original Portfolio of Musical Compositions’ (2014)
  • Gabrielle Kaufman - ‘Gaspar Cassadó: A Study of Catalan Cello Arrangements and Cello Performance Style’ (2013)
  • Roberto Alonso Trillo - ‘The Music of Tomás Marco: A Holistic Approach, with Particular Regard to Selected Works for Violin’ (2011)

Current PhD students

  • Simon Brown (Musicology: Benjamin Britten)
  • Paul Nevins (Musicology: The Trumpet in Elgar)
  • Andy Ingamells (Composition)
  • Paul Norman (Composition)
  • Tatiana Papageorgiou (Musicology: Mikis Theodorakis).

Johannes Tinctoris: Complete Theoretical Works: ongoing open-access internet resource (Latin texts, English translations, source transcriptions, facsimile images, commentary materials, etc.; project team includes Jeffrey J. Dean (Senior Researcher) and David Lewis (Researcher); Early Music Theory (EMT) website at; legacy version hosted by the Stoa Consortium, University of Kentucky ( Currently available texts include: (i) Tractatus de notis et pausis; (ii) Liber imperfectionum notarum musicalium; (iii) Scriptum super punctis musicalibus; (iv) Tractatus alterationum; (v) De regulari valore notarum (vi) Liber de arte contrapuncti, Book I; (vii) De inventione et usu musices; legacy site includes (viii) Expositio manus; (ix) earlier edition of Tractatus alterationum. Also available on EMT and/or Stoa sites: Biographical outline; Work-list; other related articles and papers, including most recently: ‘Syncopated Imperfection and Alteration in Tinctoris’s Theoretical Writings’ (2012); and ‘The Dating and Provenance of Valencia 835: A Suggested Revision’ (2013); plus archive of earlier authored journal publications.

Monograph: John Tucke: A Case Study in Early Tudor Music Theory, Oxford Monographs in Music (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).

Peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on Tinctoris and 15th-century musicology

‘Tinctoris’s Family Origins: Some New Clues, Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 5/1 (2013), 69–94  (Turnhout: Brepols). (This issue guest-edited by Ronald Woodley).

‘Tinctoris and Nivelles: The Obit Evidence’, Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 1 (2009), 110–21 (Turnhout: Brepols).

‘Sharp Practice in the Late Middle Ages: Exploring the Chromatic Semitone and its Implications’, Music Theory Online, 12/2 (2006), downloadable PDF: 50 pp. plus sound files. Also available online and subsequent links to ‘Related Articles and Papers’.

‘Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS II 4147: The Cultivation of Johannes Tinctoris as Music Theorist in the Nineteenth Century’, in Ars musica septentrionalis: De l’interprétation du patrimoine musical à l’historiographie, ed. Barbara Haggh and Frédéric Billiet, with Claire Chamiyé and Sandrine Dumont (Paris: Presses de l’université Paris-Sorbonne, 2011), 121–58. Updated version also available as open-access internet publication (Stoa Consortium, University of Kentucky: and subsequent links to ‘Related Articles and Papers’) [Paper delivered at international conference, Douai and Cambrai, Association Ad Fugam with University of Paris IV–Sorbonne, November 2005].

‘Minor Coloration Revisited: Okeghem’s Ma bouche rit and Beyond’, Théorie et analyse musicales 1450–1650: Actes du colloque international (Louvain-la-Neuve, 23–25 septembre 1999), ed. Anne-Emmanuelle Ceulemans and Bonnie J. Blackburn, Musicologica Neolovaniensia. Studia 9 (Louvain-la-Neuve, 2001), 39–63. Also available online and subsequent links to ‘Related Articles and Papers’.

‘Tinctoris’s Italian Translation of the Golden Fleece Statutes: A Text and (Possible) Context’, Early Music History, 8 (1988), 173–244. Also available online and subsequent links to ‘Archive’.

‘Renaissance Music as Literature: On Reading Tinctoris’s Proportionale musices’, Renaissance Studies, 1 (1987), 209–20; reprinted in Music Theory in the Renaissance, ed. Cristle Collins Judd (Farnham and Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2013), 259–70.

‘The Printing and Scope of Tinctoris’s Fragmentary Treatise De inuentione et usu musice’, Early Music History, 5 (1985), 239–68. Also available online and subsequent links to ‘Archive’.

‘Iohannes Tinctoris: A Review of the Documentary Biographical Evidence’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 34 (1981), 217–48.

Forthcoming edited volume of essays: Johannes Tinctoris and Music Theory in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, volume of essays deriving from international conference, University of London 2014, edited Ronald Woodley and Christian Goursaud, scheduled for publication in the series Épitome musical (General Editor: Philippe Vendrix), Brepols (c. 2017): in preparation.

Journal articles and book chapters in other areas of musicology

‘Steve Reich’s Proverb, Canon, and a little Wittgenstein’, in Canon and Canonic Techniques, 14th to 16th Centuries, ed. Katelijne Schiltz and Bonnie J. Blackburn, Analysis in Context: Leuven Studies in Musicology (Leuven and Dudley MA: Peeters, 2007), 457–81. [Paper delivered at international conference, Catholic University of Leuven, October 2005].

‘Performing Ravel: Style and Practice in the Early Recordings’, in The Cambridge Companion to Ravel, ed. Deborah Mawer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 213–39. Spanish translation as: ‘Interpretando a Ravel: estilo y práctica en las grabaciones tempranas’, Quodlibet, 45 (December 2009), 94–128; corrigenda list in Quodlibet, 46 (April 2010), 118.

‘Strategies of Irony in Prokofiev’s F minor Violin Sonata’, in The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation, ed. John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 170–93.

‘Steve Reich’, in Contemporary Composers, ed. Brian Morton (London & Chicago, 1991).

Other recent musicological work

‘Ilona Eibenschütz’s Solo Piano Arrangements of Brahms and Schumann Lieder: Issues of Performance Style and Genre’, Performing Brahms in the Twenty-First Century: A Symposium on Performing Practice, University of Leeds, June–July 2015: online Proceedings article in preparation (2016).

‘Pianism, Performing Style and Instinct in Newly Recovered Recordings by Ilona Eibenschütz’, Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 9 November 2006: open-access internet resource in preparation (2016–17).

Sample international conference participation

  • ‘Ilona Eibenschütz’s Solo Piano Arrangements of Brahms and Schumann Lieder: Issues of Performance Style and Genre’, Performing Brahms in the Twenty-First Century: A Symposium on Performing Practice, University of Leeds, June–July 2015.
  • Director of international conference ‘Johannes Tinctoris and Music Theory in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance’, in collaboration with the Institute of Musical Research (School of Advanced Study), University of London, October 2014.
  • ‘Tinctoris’s Early Years: A Few New Clues’, Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Music, Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, July 2011.
  • ‘Imperfection and Alteration in Fifteenth-Century Notation: The Intellectual Context’, Renaissance Society of America, Venice, April 2010; developed from ‘At the Limits of Mensural Theory: Tinctoris on Imperfection and Alteration’, 41st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2006.
  • ‘Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS II 4147 and the Cultivation of Johannes Tinctoris as Music Theorist in the Nineteenth Century’, Ars Musica Septentrionalis: De l’historiographie à la valorisation du patrimoine musical, Douai and Cambrai, Association Ad Fugam with University of Paris IV–Sorbonne, November 2005.
  • ‘Steve Reich’s Proverb, Canon, and a little Wittgenstein’, International Conference on Canon and Canonic Techniques, 14th to 16th Centuries, Catholic University of Leuven, October 2005.
  • ‘Did Tinctoris Listen to Okeghem? Questions of Textuality and Authority in the Fifteenth Century’, 40th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2005.

Professional clarinettist and pianist, commissioned or dedicated works 

  • Stephen Pratt, Judgement of Paris (clarinet and or­chestra: 1984).
  • Steve Ingham, Shards (bass clarinet, marimba, piano and tape: 1986; commission funded by Merseyside Arts); and Panama (clarinet, bass clarinet and tape: 1990).
  • James Wishart, Òran Canaigh (two bass clarinets and tape: 1990; commission funded by Northern Arts); and Threnos: Zerrissen: Headsong (oboe/cor anglais, bass clarinet, ensemble & electronics: 2002).
  • Roger Marsh, Holz und Hitze (two bass clarinets: 1992).
  • Christopher Fox, clarinet quintet (1993; commission funded by the Holst Foundation of Great Britain); and straight lines in broken times 4 (two bass clarinets and tape: 1994).
  • Liz Johnson, Narixa for bass clarinet and trombone (2006).
  • Liz Johnson, Wild Man Dances, for two pianos (2015).
  • Liz Johnson, Clarinet Quintet Scintilla for multiple clarinets and string quartet: CD recording for Divine Arts Records, with Fitzwilliam Quartet, scheduled for July 2016.

Extensive experience as clarinettist, bass clarinettist and chamber pianist; founder member of Newcastle Piano Trio (1991–4), re-formed as Camilli Piano Trio (1996–8); ongoing two-piano partnerships with Andrew West and Roy Howat; frequent song recitals with tenor James Geer (2008– ), including complete songs of Duparc (2011–12); earlier pioneering work in 1980s as chalumeau player with Colin Lawson and the Parley of Instruments, including broadcast for BBC Radio 3.

Media Work

Media appearances

1993: Script editor and presenter of BBC Radio 3 documentary (50') on Stravinsky and Dylan Thomas: ‘Dying of the Light’.

1994: Series of five programmes for BBC Radio 3 ‘The Music Machine’ on Steve Reich, Philip Glass and digital sampling technology: ‘The Sampling Sessions’.

Earlier regular appearances (1980s–90s) as contributor to BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’, ‘Early Music Forum’, and BBC Radio 4 ‘Kaleidoscope’.

Work With Industry

Links and Social Media