Dr John Matthias

Dr John Matthias

Associate Professor (Reader) in Sonic Arts

School of Art and Media (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)


John Matthiasis a musician, composer and academic. He is a Co-Investigator and leader of the Creative Arts theme in the 2014 £4.1 Million Euro EU Marie Curie ITN Grant ‘CogNovo’ which explores creativity and novelty in cognition and was Principal Investigator in the 2009 Wellcome Trust Grant ’24 Fragments’. He has also had funding from the Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK. He has contributed several book chapters co-authoring with Jane Grant and also written articles for several major Journals including Leonardo, the Leonardo Music Journal and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA (PNAS). In 2008, he won the UK PRS Foundation New Music Award (The 'Turner Prize' for music) with Jane Grant and Nick Ryan for the development of a huge sonic installation entitled 'The Fragmented Orchestra' which won an honorary mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 2009. He has released four music albums; ‘Smalltown, Shining’(2001), ‘Stories from the Watercooler’ (2008), ‘Cortical Songs’ (2009) (with Nick Ryan), which includes remixes by Thom Yorke, Simon Tong and Jem Finer and ‘Geisterfahrer’ (2014). ‘Cortical Songs’ was voted one of the top ten classical albums of 2009 by Time Out (Chicago). John has also won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the Prix Italia. He has collaborated with many recording artists including Radiohead and Coldcut and has performed extensively internationally including at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York, The Pompidou Centre in Paris and at the Royal Opera House in London. He has recently been involved in collaborations with the Rambert Dance Company in London, artist, Stanley Donwood in San Francisco and artist, Jane Grant in their large scale sound work, ‘Fathom’. He is Associate Professor in Sonic Arts at Plymouth University, has a Ph.D in Theoretical Physics from Exeter University and is Co-Director of the Art and Sound Research Group at Plymouth University.




Ph.D (Physics) Exeter University UK 1998
BS.c Theoretical Physics (Class 1) Exeter University 1990

Professional membership


Research interests

Composition, Performance (as a practitioner), Neuronal Music Technology

Research groups

  • art + sound
  • AZTEC (Art, Science, Technology Research Consortium)
  • Centre for Media, Art & Design Research (MADr)
  • i-DAT (Institute of Digital Art & Technology)


‘Stories from the Watercooler’ John Matthias 2008 Counter Records (Ninja Tune) COUNTCD014

‘Cortical Songs’ John Matthias and Nick Ryan (Solo Violin, John Matthias) with remixes by Thom Yorke, Jem Finer, Simon Tong and others, Nonclassical Records, London 2008

‘Three degrees Colder’ Film Soundtrack Corker/ Conboy feat. John Matthias (solo violin) with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra (Blue Eyes Music) March 2006

'Smalltown, Shining' John Matthias 2001 Accidental Records (Lifelike LL12)

E.Ps and SIngles

‘Blind’ e.p John Matthias Counter/ Ninja Tune 5th April 2008 COUNTCD013

‘Man in a garage’ Coldcut (feat. John Matthias) single (Ninja Tune) Jan 2006 Ninja Tune

'John Matthias is the Insurance Man' John Matthias, November 2002 (12" ep) Accidental Records (Lifelike LL13)

‘All the time in the world’ John Matthias, August 2001, Accidental Records Ltd.

'Fake Plastic Trees' Radiohead 1995 (all violins and viola parts) Parlophone –number 2 in UK singles charts.

Tracks on albums

‘Stockwell Road’ John Matthias on ‘Strike’ (Counter Records Compilation) October 2009

‘Evermore’ John Matthias on ‘You don’t know’ Ninja Tune Compilation ZENCD150 Feb 2008

‘Man in a garage’ Coldcut (feat. John Matthias) from ‘Sound Mirrors’ (Ninja Tune) Jan 2006

‘Colours the Soul’ Coldcut from ‘Sound Mirrors’ (violin/ string arrangement) (Ninja tune) Jan 2006

‘You’re unknown to me’ Herbert, from 'Bodily Functions' July 2002 Studio K7! (Violin)

'Fake Plastic Trees' Radiohead The Bends 1995 (all violin and viola parts) Parlophone
(number 2 in UK album charts, sold 3 million copies worldwide (voted number 22 in UK Channel 4 poll 2002 100 best albums of all time)

‘(nice dream)’ Radiohead The Bends 1995 (all violin and viola parts) Parlophone
(number 2 in UK album charts, sold 3 million copies worldwide (voted number 22 in UK Channel 4 poll 2002 100 best albums of all time)

‘Three Chord Trick' John Matthias, Uncut Magazine Gatefold CD (Europe) March 2002

'All the time in the world' John Matthias, from ‘Disco Pogo for Punks in Pumps’ Jockey Slut Magazine Gatefold CD (Europe) December 2003

‘All the time in the World’ John Matthias on ‘You Are Here’ Accidental Records Compilation 2003

Film Scores

‘Pelican Blood’ (Feature Film) Directed by Karl Golden, soundtrack includes ‘Blind Lead the Blind’ and ‘Spinnaker’ by John Matthias. Released December 2009

‘Out of Time’ (Straight 8 film) Directed by Duncan Wellaway, Music by Adrian Corker and John Matthias –premiered at Cannes International Film Festival 2009, also shown at ‘Rushes Soho Shorts’ Curzon Cinema, London 2009

'The Hamburg Cell' Inner Circle Pictures August 2004 (Dir. Antonia Bird) Premiered at Edinburgh International Film festival 2004 (Co-composer/Performer/Orchestrator) with Adrian Corker and Paul Conboy (Shortlisted for an International EMMY 2005)

‘Three degrees Colder’ (Dir. Florian Hoffmeister) Corker/Conboy June 2005 Premiered at Locarno International Film Festival (Winner of Silver Leopard Medal) John Matthias (improvised solo violin) with the Nuremberg symphony orchestra

‘Stuck’ Dir. Harmony Korine –Music by John Matthias and David Prior (TV Advertisement) 2007-2008


24 Fragments: 24 distributed performances (music and science) on the 24 sites of The Fragmented Orchestra, 21st February 2009 including distributed performances from Prof Mark d’inverno, SARC Research Centre Belfast, Ralph Hoyte (Bristol), Simon Tong, Adem, John Matthias and Nick Ryan, Jane Grant, Dr Magnus Richardson, Paul Broks and others.

‘The Fragmented Orchestra’ Jane Grant, John Matthias and Nick Ryan, FACT, Liverpool and 24 sites across the UK (including National Portrait Gallery, London, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Verbal Arts Centre, Derry, The Roundhouse, London, University of Birmingham, Barber Institute, Hidden Gardens at Tramway Gallery, Glasgow) December 11th 2008-February 22nd 2009

‘The Boisterous Sea’ David Prior and John Matthias +Small Designs, Thomas Jefferson Museum, Virginia, USA Spring 2009-

‘Untitled (Room)’ Jane Grant and John Matthias, Sonic Arts Network Expo 2007, Plymouth UK

‘Oxford/Universe’ John Matthias and Andrew Prior – ‘O-maps’ exhibition invited/selected by Jem Finer at Modern Art, Oxford June 2005

'Bud' Anna Lucas, John Matthias Music/Sound Design, commissioned by artist Anna Lucas, March 2003-Spike Island Bristol (funded by Picture This/Spike Island)

Chapters in Books

The Fragmented Orchestra, Jane Grant, John Matthias and Nick Ryan in Human Futures Ed. Andy Miah FACT 2008

Papers (Journals)

‘Music Neurotechnology for Sound Synthesis: Sound Synthesis with spiking neuronal networks’ Eduardo Miranda and John Matthias Leonardo 42 No5 pp 439-442 2009

‘Cortical Songs –Sonic events from spiking neurons’ John Matthias and Nick Ryan Body, Space and Technology Journal –Perspectives  Vol 8 2007 (Brunel University) ISSN 1470 9120

'Roton Backflow and Quasiparticle Scattering at superfluid helium surfaces'
MB Sobnack, JR Matthias, CHD Williams, JCH Fung and JC Inkson, Physical Review B65 184521 (2002)

'A Beliaev Theory Incorporating a Semi-Phenomenological Roton Backflow Effect'
JR Matthias, MB Sobnack, JC Inkson,and JCH Fung, Journal of Low Temperature Physics  121(5/6) 345 (2000)

'The Effect of Backflow on Atom Emission by Rotons from the Free Surface of Superfluid He4' MB Sobnack, JR Matthias and JCH Fung, Physica B  284 156 (2000)

'Roton Backflow and Quantum Evaporation From
 Superfluid He-4' MB Sobnack, JR Matthias and JCH Fung, Journal of Low Temperature Physics 121(5/6) 339 (2000)

Papers (Conferences)

‘The Fragmented Orchestra’ Daniel Jones, Jane Grant, John Matthias, Tim Hodgson, Nick Ryan, Nicholas Outram NIME 2009 Pittsburgh (long paper)

‘Hearing Thinking’ Jane Grant, John Matthias, Tim Hodgson and Eduardo Miranda in ‘Applications of Evolutionary Computing’) Springer Lectures in Computer Science April 2009

‘Coritcal Songs’ John Matthias, Nick Ryan, Eduardo Miranda and Kevin McCracken
SEMPRE conference on computer assisted composition, Birmingham Conservatoire May 2007.

‘Granular Sampling using a pulse-coupled network of Spiking Neurons’
ER Miranda and JR Matthias in ‘Applications of Evolutionary Computing’ LNCS 3449 Ed. Rothlauf et al. p539-544 (2005) Springer Lectures in Computer Science ISSN 0302 9743

‘An Idiomatic Plucked String Player’
Leandro L. Costalonga, Eduardo R. Miranda, John Matthias, Rosa M. Vicari


John Richards/ Genia Suite for Piano and Electronics (Derailer remix) Nonclassical Records Jan 2007

Corker/Conboy ‘Radiant Idiot’ (Derailer Remix) on ‘Six for five’ e.p Vertical Form records 2005

Selected Live Performances

Mar 2009           ‘Cortical Songs’ The Tap Room, Austin, Texas at SXSW Festival.
Mar 2009           ‘Cortical Songs’ Le Poisson Rouge, New York City  (Wordless Music Series)
Mar 2009           Solo performance, The Living Room, New York City
Nov 2008           ‘Cortical Songs’ St. Martin-In-the-fields, London
Oct 2008           ‘Watercooler’ –John Matthias (band) and Cortical Songs, Bush Hall, London
Feb 2007    ‘Cortical Songs’ (John Matthias and Nick Ryan) Solo violin with Ten-Tors Orchestra, St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth, Voices II Festival.
Feb 2006     Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London (with Coldcut)
Dec 2005     Transmusicalles Festival, Rennes, France (with Coldcut)
Sept 2004         John Matthias, Union Chapel, London (Accidental Powercut)
Feb  2002          John Matthias La Scene, Paris
Mar 2002      John Matthias Grande Salle, Pompidou Center, Paris (supporting Matthew Herbert)

Selected Radio and television Performances, Interviews and Broadcasts

BBC6 Music Nemone Show, Interview, John Matthias -24 Fragments
BBC Radio 3 Music Matters ‘Brain Music’ –Feature/ Interview ‘The Fragmented Orchestra’
BBC Radio 1 Gilles Peterson Live in session, BBC Maida Vale, John Matthias August 2008
BBC Radio 4 ‘Loose Ends’ John Matthias live performance May 2008
BBC Radio 4 ‘The Today Programme’ April 22nd 2008 The Fragmented Orchestra
BBC Radio 2 ‘Janice Long’ Live session with Coldcut Feb 21st 2006
BBC6music (Gideon Coe show) Coldcut ‘Man in a Garage’ Live Session with Coldcut (Jan 2006)
Canal Plus TV (France) ‘Album de la Semaine’ with Coldcut Jan 2006
'Oui Fm' (Paris) Live Recording and Broadcast of Concert at La Scéne, Paris (John Matthias +full band) November 2001
BBC Radio 1 Ross Allen (Broadcast of 'Moneybox' March 2003)
BBC Radio 3 'Mixing It' Broadcast of 'The Fire Engine' March 2002
Live session on 'The Selector' (British Council Worldwide radio station) September 2001