Hi Simon, congratulations on passing your viva! How does it feel?!
A real mixture of emotions: happiness and elation of course, but also a strange mix of anti-climax, sadness and “what on earth do I do now?”
What was your PhD title?
Cloud Triptych: an exploration of stochastic movement between discrete musical behaviours.
Can you explain in a couple of sentences what your PhD was about?
I’ve been exploring and developing ways to use algorithmic processes to compose musical material, in such a way as to create large-scale musical transformations.
Can you sum up your PhD experience in three words?
Challenging, frustrating, illuminating.
What was the viva like?
Extremely enjoyable, the most pleasant exam I’ve ever experienced!
What are your top tips to someone preparing for their viva?
You cannot over-prepare! Re-read your thesis and re-read all of the articles you’ve cited in the thesis. For composers, listen again to every composition in the portfolio and go through every score bar by bar. Make a note of any previously missed errors or details that might get pointed out in the viva. Think of the questions you’re likely to be asked, particularly to do with the areas you (for perfectly good reasons) take for granted in your work, even really basic things, all of which could be challenged in the viva. And above all remember that no-one knows your work better than you do – it really is a bit like going into an exam knowing all the answers.
Any advice you’d tell your earlier PhD self now you’ve made it to the other side?
It’s going to be a lot harder than you realise, but you’re a lot more able than you think you are, and it ultimately feels a whole lot better than you ever imagined!
What are you up to now and any exciting plans for the future?
Various composition and writing projects lined up for the rest of 2017. Beyond that, who knows…
Thanks so much for your time Simon, we wish you all the best for the future!