Professor Nicola Dibben

BSc(Hons), MA, MEd, PhD, FHEA

Department of Music

Professor of Music


Faculty Director of Research and Innovation, Arts and Humanities

Portrait photo in front of white wall
Profile picture of Portrait photo in front of white wall

Full contact details

Professor Nicola Dibben
Department of Music
Jessop Building
Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

My academic experience combines teaching, research and knowledge exchange in the science and psychology of music, alongside leadership roles supporting collaborative and interdisciplinary research. 

I am particularly interested in music listening and what that engagement means for individuals' self-perception and understanding of the world.  I work in three overlapping areas: music cognition, popular music studies and music digitalisation. My teaching is informed by my empirical research into how people perceive and understand musical structures and meanings. My research has used listening studies, interviews, surveys, music analysis and theory to understand the meanings and emotions that individuals experience with music. I use these to show how important constructs, such as our gender and our relationship to the natural world are encountered and shaped through music.

Much of this work focuses on popular music, and in 2011, after publishing a book on Björk’s music, I collaborated with Björk on her multimedia album-app Biophilia - the first album for tablet computer. More recently my interest in digital transformations has been focused on synthetic media and co-developing assistive AI music generation technologies with computer scientists (MIMA) and professional musicians. We’re doing this not just to create inspiring and ethical tools for musicians, but as a ‘live lab’ to better understand the impacts of these emerging technologies. Social justice has been a recurring theme in my work, most explicitly through my investigation of social and environmental action through music in Colombia and the UK.

In 2022 I received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo for my contributions to music studies. I hold degrees from City University of London and the University of Sheffield and have had visiting appointments at several international institutions.

Research interests

My research focuses on the experience and production of (popular) music in contemporary culture. My current research projects include:

  • Investigating music-making, ethics and IP in AI music generation. Projects include: participatory design of assistive AI music generation software for sonic-branding, commercial and popular music, AI voice conversion for trans singers  using music creation to teach; computer coding, and anAHRC funded network Datasounds, datasets and datasense;
  • Identifying how new musical multimedia and X-reality technologies are impacting recorded popular music making and experience. 
  • Investigating the ways music engagement may contribute to our environmental values and beliefs through a collaboration with musician Erland Cooper.
  • Working to decolonise music cognition through a British Academy funded Writing Workshop.

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

  • Hughes C, Brown G, Ma N & Dibben N () Acoustic effects of facial feminisation surgery on speech and singing: A case study. Processings of Interspeech 2024. Kos island, Greece, 1 September 2024 - 1 September 2024. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download


  • Antonelli P, Galloway P & Burckhardt A (2022, September 10) Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design. The Museum of Modern Art. RIS download Bibtex download


Research group

I am a member of the Music, Mind, Machine research centre and regularly collaborate with MiMA: Machine Intelligence for Music and Audio.

I have extensive supervisory experience and am happy to support highly qualified doctoral and postdoctoral candidates who wish to work with psychologically-informed approaches  to answer important research questions in music and AI, the experience of new musical multimedia, or music in science communication and environmentalism. See the information on applying for a PhD.

Current PhDs

  • Cliodnha Hughes, Voice conversion for singers, 2022-
  • Edmondo Cicchetti, Musical summarisation for sonic branding, 2023-
  • Jaytee Tang, Cultural influences on emotional responses to music, 2021-
  • Kate Wareham, Musical sociabilities of young adults in temporary homes, 2018-
  • Persefoni Tzanaki, Rhythmic synchronisation and empathy, 2020-
Professional activities and memberships

I am on the editorial board of the open access White Rose University Press and former editor of the journals Popular Music and Empirical Musicology Review and was a subpanel member for the Research Excellence Framework in 2014 and 2021 (Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies).