Our research in commercial music involves the systematic investigation of ideas and questions. In popular music, it can be about books and journal articles, but might involve soldering irons, song writing, effects racks or modular synthesisers.
The work of our researchers is groundbreaking; it has led to new approaches to making and recording music; the creation of new instruments; the development of novel ways of promoting and performing music; and the development of new understandings about what goes on when people play and listen to the sounds they love.
Composition and songwriting
Our faculty includes electro-acoustic composers, electronic music producers and song writers. As recipients of numerous national and international awards our faculty engage in practice-based research that explores new contexts for composition and song-writing, including film soundtracks, installation and white box performance spaces, and live settings.
Our researchers have curated record company catalogues, festivals and events around New Zealand and internationally. With a particular focus on indie and underground music, they work to raise the profile of New Zealand’s emerging and established performers across both domestic and global stages.
New Zealand’s unique culture and geographic setting means its music industry faces unique challenges. Our researchers engage in and publish critiques and investigations of music industry issues in New Zealand and the Pacific, via both mainstream media and peer reviewed academic publications.
Our researchers include ethnomusicologists, cultural theorists and musicologists. Their scholarship considers scenes in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea, and genres including heavy metal, indie and commercial music, jazz, and New Zealand art music.
Our performers innovate across a broad range of styles, including electronic, experimental, reggae, and indie genres. We perform all around the world via installations, festivals, concerts, and tours and seek out new ways of connecting music with live audiences using new technologies and via collaborations with other artists.
Sound engineering and audio production
Our researchers in sound engineering and audio production have recorded and engineered albums that are celebrated in New Zealand and around the world. They investigate novel ways to deploy the studio for making music for the 21st century. We have expertise in film audio, voice overs, ADR and foley.
Find programmes with a research element, including the PhD.
Search for an expert
Search our staff database for an expert or area of expertise.
Australian Heavy Metal
Dr Catherine Hoad is currently editing a scholarly collection on Australian heavy metal, which engages with the regional nuances of metal music communities, cultures and practices. Her research analyses constructions of gender and race in metal scenes, with a particular focus on the ethnonational politics of belonging as they emerge in metal.
Patō - An electronic, tunable and portable drum for the modern musician
Rachael Hall's Patō brings the sounds of the South Pacific into the modern digital environment. This new concept of drumming brings indigenous knowledge and performance into a contemporary musical experience, allowing sampling and remixing for musicians looking for a Pasifika inflection.
Re-Visioning Guqin Performance
The art of guqin music is multi-dimensional, with its distinct fluid modulation of pitch, dynamics, and timbre in the tones created by the combination of the left and right hand finger techniques. These techniques are choreographic, kinaesthetic, and synesthetic. Dr Jon He has developed g.qin, a customised gestural musical interface, to investigate these elements of guqin performance and explore their performative potential with new mechatronic musical instruments, evoking new amalgams of electro-instrumental music.
Re-connecting popular music to the Natural World (Whanaungatanga ki te taiao)
Warren Maxwell’s practice is focused on the natural environment, a kaupapa (objective) central to Aotearoa's indigenous music, through collaborations with with globally active multi-media artists, Māori philosophers, academics and scientists who are also concerned with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
speaker.motion: A new rotatable loudspeaker system
speaker.motion is a mechatronic loudspeaker interface for dynamic manipulation of sound directionality in music. Designed and developed by Dr Bridget Johnson, the speaker.motion system is the first of its kind and allows a new framework for spatial interaction in music composition and performance. The system is actively used by performers within New Zealand and internationally.
Students can access highly spec’d facilities, including a dubbing theatre equipped with an Avid S6 48ch digital console, with 7.1 Dynaudio Acoustics Block monitoring. There is also a 5.1 dubbing studio using a 16ch Avid Icon console.
Electronics technology laboratory
Students can access a dedicated Technology Lab, that has specialist equipment for hardware development, software development, electronics, prototyping and 3D printing.
Designed by Munro Acoustics (London) and Athfield Architects (WGTN), Massey University has recently constructed world-class recording facilities at the Wellington Campus. The flagship studio features 300m2 of live-rooms controlled by two of the world’s most sought-after desks; a 72ch Neve, and a 48ch SSL Duality analogue console. Both control rooms have an impressive selection of outboard and monitoring is with Dynaudio Acoustics soffit mounted speakers in 5.1.
Students can access five acoustically treated rehearsal rooms with backline and vocal PA systems suitable for modern music. The production rehearsal room, which also doubles as a live venue, is equipped with PA and full professional lighting rig.