Translating Improvisation | Team

The AHRC-funded project, Into the Key of Law: Transposing Musical Improvisation. The Case of Child Protection in Northern Ireland, was led by:
Dr. Sara Ramshaw, University of Victoria, Faculty of Law
Dr. Paul Stapleton, Queen’s University Belfast, Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC)

Dr. Sara Ramshaw
joined the University of Exeter, School of Law as a Senior Lecturer in 2014 after several years at Queen’s University Belfast. After receiving her B.A. (Honours) (With Distinction) from the University of Toronto, with majors in Women’s Studies and Ethics, Society and the Law, Sara obtained both a LLB and a LLM from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She then clerked at the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2000. Sara worked as a Research Lawyer at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in Toronto, Ontario before commencing postgraduate studies at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, England, where she was also employed as a Sessional Lecturer of the Law of Obligations I (Contract Law). Sara’s doctoral thesis, completed in 2007, examined the legal regulation of jazz musicians in New York City (1940-1967) through the lens of poststructural theory informed by feminism, critical race theory and musicology.

Dr. Paul Stapleton is an improviser, sound artist and writer originally from Southern California. Paul joined SARC in 2007, where he has been teaching and supervising MA & PhD research in performance technologies, interaction design and site-specific art. Paul also designs and performs with a variety of modular metallic sound sculptures, custom made electronics, found objects and electric guitars in locations ranging from experimental music clubs in Berlin to remote beaches on Vancouver Island. He is involved in a diverse range of artistic collaborations including: improvisation duos with saxophonist Simon Rose & double-bassist Adam Pultz Melbye, networked installation design and performance with Tom Davis, and the co-direction of QUBe experimental music ensemble with Steve Davis.

Research Fellow:

Dr. Adnan Marquez-Borbon
Saxophonist, improviser, computer musician, composer, and sound artist. He received his PhD at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast. His research mainly focuses on the development of skill with digital musical interactions and how this process informs the design of new musical devices. His music involves improvisation and electronic manipulation of sounds in real-time. Influenced by jazz, free improvisation, western European concert music, electronic and ethnic musics, his improvisations and compositions attempt to synthesize these diverse elements into a very personal style. His first recording, “The Paradox of Continuity”, was released in 2007 under the Californian label, Circumvention Music. As a producer under the alias Duplex Helix, he released the “Bonds EP” in 2011. He has participated in numerous projects with musicians from California, Mexico and Northern Ireland. He is a founder of the Mexican improvisation collective Generacion Espontanea and the multimedia collective N0R73 (now OpenL4B.Norte_Hackerspace). As an educator, he has been an instructor of saxophone for almost ten years and has additionally taught digital audio, musical acoustics, music perception and cognition courses. Currently, he is a professor at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) where he teaches a number of subjects involving the use of computers and technological tools for musical and artistic applications.

Research Assistants:

Dr. Kathryn McNeilly is a Lecturer at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. Her research interests intersect the areas of critical legal studies, human rights and feminist philosophy. She is particularly interested in critiques of human rights and gendered/queer engagements with the theoretical underpinnings, politics and practice of human rights. To date her work has been published in journals such as Feminist Legal Studies, the Australian Feminist Law Journal and the International Journal of Human Rights. Kathryn’s work has been presented widely including as a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies at the University of British Columbia, funded by the County Antrim Grand Jury Bursary, and in conversation with Professor Judith Butler at LSE School of Law in February 2015.

Seamus Mulholland read law at the Queen’s University of Belfast during the years 2008 through 2011, and from there he graduated with first class honours. During Michaelmas of 2012 he was admitted to the Honorable Society of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland and called to the Bar of Northern Ireland, and having thereafter completed pupillage, he commenced a varied criminal and civil private practice as a barrister-at-law in 2013. At university and latterly in legal practice he has been involved in researching child protection law for the purposes of academic essays, legal opinions and in-court oral and written advocacy. It is hoped that his continuing to straddle law in both academia and practice might bring to the project an appreciation of their pre-existing shared language and knowledge exchanges.

Research Assistant and Archivist:


Matilde Meireles is a sound artist whose work explores the conceptual and creative crossover between visual arts and sound encompassing areas such as site-specificity, soundscape and design. Her works have been exhibited in Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and Brazil. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sound Art at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, under the supervision of Pedro Rebelo and Paul Stapleton. She is part of the QUB research group Recomposing the City. Also she collaborates with Aidan Deery to form the field-recording duo bunú.