Dr. James Else - Northern School of Contemporary Dance


Head of Postgraduate Studies

PhD in Music (Composition), University of York, 2008
Master of Music (Composition) with Merit, Kings College, University of London, 2003
Bachelor of Music (Honours) 1st Class, University of Glasgow, 2002
DipABRSM (Performance, Piano) with Distinction, 2002

Role and responsibilities:

James is responsible for the postgraduate curriculum and development. He teaches Film, Music, Creative and Contextual work.

Career History

James Else is a composer, filmmaker and lecturer.  He studied music at the University of Glasgow and King’s College London, before completing a PhD in composition at the University of York with Nicola LeFanu.  He is active as a freelance composer including recent performances by the BBC Philharmonic (as part of their Red Brick Sessions), Cuatro Puntos, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Ligeti String Quartet, Jeremy Huw Williams and Ian Pace.  James has had his music performed across the UK and Ireland, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and he also regularly composes television music for BBC Scotland.

James has been heavily involved in contemporary dance since 2005, specialising in its relationships to other art practices both in creative and theoretical fields. Alongside his teaching at NSCD he works as a TV producer primarily for BBC broadcast, including the BAFTA Scotland winning programme ‘The Great Climb’ and the Scottish Adventure Award-winning series ‘The Adventure Show’ currently in its 13th series.

Website: http://www.jameselse.co.uk/

Professional Scholarly Activity and Interests

James composes both traditional concert repertoire and music for television.  He is interested in developing harmonic and structural languages that respond to the history and hierarchies of western music.  James has also worked extensively as a producer, composer and in post-production.

Outside of his practice-based research in music composition and filmmaking, James is particularly interested in the abstract connections that can be made between different artforms, artworks and ideas.  As such his research profile covers a wide range of subjects including movement research, and visual, conceptual and performance art.

Most recently James has been exploring the possibilities that Virtual Reality offers movement based artists and looking at the paradox of art in a research context.

The Adventure Show (BBC2 Scotland) Scottish Adventure Awards Winner 2014; 2007-present (producer)

The Great Climb (BBC2 Scotland/BBC2 HD) BAFTA Scotland Winner 2011; 2010 (producer)

Elgar: Sonata for Organ No. 1 featuring James Lancelot, Commercial CD & DVD, 2007 (producer)

To Hell and Back (BBC2 Scotland) Finalist Celtic Film Festival 2008; 2007 (producer)

Key Publications, Papers and Conferences

Else, J (2019) Drenched (Tenor and Piano) – First performance: Christopher O’Gorman & Kate Ledger, 2019.

Else, J (2018) Climbing the Virtual Stepladder: Exploring the Reality of Virtual Worlds in Performance . Body, Space & Technology . 17 ( 1 ) , pp . 34–50 . https://www.bstjournal.com/articles/10.16995/bst.295/ 

Else, J (2016) falling, unseen (String Sextet) – First performance: Cuatro Puntos, 2016. Also performed by: BBC Phil (The Red Brick Sessions), 2017.

Else, J (2016) Art vs Research, Dance HE conference, NSCD, Leeds. 28th October 2016

Else, J (2015) Peer Observation of Teaching, CDD conference, The Place, London. 9th April 2015

Else, J (2014) Light Shadows (Saxophone Quartet) – First performance: Delta Saxophone Quartet, 2014

Else, J (2013) On the Wind (String Quartet) – First performance: Ligeti String Quartet, 2013

Else, J (2012) One Hour (Baritone & Piano) – First performance: Jeremy Huw Williams & Nigel Foster, 2012

Else, J (2012) Forgotten Notes (Flute & Horn) – First performance: Souza Winds, 2012

Else, J (2011) A Stolen Moment (Piano) – First performance: Ian Pace, 2011