Dr John McGrath is a guitarist, sound-artist, PhD and author from Ireland.

He has collaborated, performed, and recorded as an electric guitarist with numerous experimental, improv, folk, scratch, and avantrock musicians from Rhys Chatham to Dustin Wong and the aPAtT Orchestra. His solo fingerstyle compositions have been featured in The Wire magazine and on numerous international radio stations. He has a monograph with Routledge entitled, "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music". John is a lecturer at ICMP and Goldsmiths, having previously taught at University of Liverpool and LIPA. 


Lecturer in Popular Music at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance

Module Leader:

  • MMus Performance Research Project
  • MMus Cultural and Philosophical Studies
  • BACM Final Performance Project
  • BACM Making Music II
  • BACM Music, New Media and the Arts
  • BACM Music, Culture, Context and Criticism II


University of Liverpool - PhD in Music (2009-2013)

Trinity College Dublin - MPhil (2007-2008)

University College Dublin - BMus (Hons) Music (2005-2006)

University College Dublin - BA (Hons) English, Music and Philosophy



McGrath, John, "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music", (New York and London:  Routledge, 2018).

McGrath, John, “Musical Repetition in Samuel Beckett’s Ill Seen Ill Said”, in Time and Space in Words and Music, ed. Mario Dunkel, Emily Petermann and Burkhard Sauerwald (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2012), pp.31-42.

Book Reviews

McGrath, John, “Beckett and Musicality. Ed. by Sara Jane Bailes and Nicholas Till” in  Music and Letters 2015 96 (4): 681-683, doi: 10.1093/ml/gcv097

McGrath, John, “Mervyn Cooke (ed.), The Hollywood Film Music Reader and Tom Hoover, Keeping Score: Interviews with Today’s Top Film, Television, and Game Music Composers”, in Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 6:2 (2012), pp.245-251.

Conference Review

McGrath, John, “RMA Students’ Conference: Hull, 5-7 January 2012”, in RMA Newsletter XV: 1 (April 2012).

Concert Review

McGrath, John, “Beckett in Music at Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive Conference”; York University, June 2011), Conference Website.


Doctoral Award - Arts and Humanities Research Council (2009-2013)

Travel Grant - Arts and Humanities Research Council (2012)

Student Research Award - Society for Musicology in Ireland (2012)

Helen Mitchell Award for Research - University of Liverpool (2012)

Graduate School Research Travel Bursary - University of Liverpool (2012)

Helen Mitchell Award for Research - University of Liverpool (2010)


Conference Papers

“Conservative purism and the aesthetics of popular music in folk horror”

RMA Annual Conference, Sep 2017, Liverpool. 

Not 1 – Group Improvisation and the loss of self

IASPM UK & Ireland, Sep8-10 2016, BIMM and University of Sussex, Brighton

Chaired Session:  Video-game music"

Music and Screen Media Conference, 25-26 June 2014, University of Liverpool

 “Scott Fields’ Beckettian Jazz

Postgraduate Colloquium: University of Liverpool, March 2012.

Roundtable speaker: “Research Outputs and Impacts: The Value of Our Research

Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference: Hull University, January 2012.

Sounding Beckett: Musical Approaches to Text

Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference: Hull University, January 2012.

Hearing Literature: Musical Translations of Samuel Beckett’s Writing

Society for Musicology in Ireland (SMI) Student Conference: Dublin Institute of Technology, January 2012.

Rhythm and Repetition: Semantic Fluidity in Beckett's Late Prose

Postgraduate Colloquium: University of Liverpool, March 2011.

Musico-literary Studies Today

Institute of Musical Research Study Day: London, February 2011.

Music and Irish Modernist Narratives

Royal Musical Association Research Students’ Conference: Manchester, January 2011.

Silent Music in Irish Literary Modernism

International Association of Word and Music Studies Forum (WMAF): Dortmund, November 2010.

Samuel Beckett and the Condition of Music

Postgraduate Colloquium: University of Liverpool, March 2010.


“IMMIX Ensemble perform new works by John McGrath and Lucy Pankhurst” on Product Records -fingerstyle guitar and ensemble (violin, cello, sax, trumpet, bass clarinet, oboe) (2016)

Black Snow Rodeo session – lapsteel and electric guitar – (rockabilly / country rock) (2015)

Session of original solo guitar pieces for the Roger Hill show on BBC Radio Merseyside (2014)

“Double” on RestRelaxRecords – fingerstyle instrumental (avantfolk) (2014)

“Lanterns” EP on Crooked Stem Recordings (2014)

Solo fingerstyle composition “Four Hills” included on The Wire Magazine’s Tapper 33 CD (2013)       

Solo fingerstyle composition “Lanterns” included in Bido Lito magazine’s 2013 compilation. (2013)

Solo fingerstyle composition “Four Hills” included in Liverpool International Music Festival Fringe compilation (2013)

“Improvisation” with Cavalier Song – electric guitar (avantrock / noise / experimental) (2012)

Specific Ocean trio, vinyl recorded and printed live at Never Records Installation as part of Liverpool Biennial; recording later remixed  by sound-artist Philip Jeck – electric guitar (avantrock) (2011)

History of Harry - electric guitar (blues) (2008)


Solo recording used in installation at Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (June 2015)

Commissioned composition and performance with for Immix Ensemble at Static Gallery (Nov 2014)

Sin-Eater Festival, Shropshire (June 2014)

Supporting Sun Araw and Laraaji at Kazimer, Liverpool (June 2014)


Original track used in "Ben Fogle - New Lives in the Wild" (Nov 2015) 

Original track used on "5* Primetime" documentary (2015) 

Original track used in "Hollyoaks", Channel 4 (June 2014)

The Skinny magazine birthday party, Kazimer, Liverpool (May 2014)

Video for “Four Hills” by filmmaker Adam Scovell selected for FACT exhibition, Liverpool – “Science Fiction: Near Death” (March 2014)

Threshold Festival, Liverpool (March 2014)

Fantasia, Klassikradio, Estonia (Nov 2013)

Sideways Through Sound radio show, Sydney’s SER 107.3FM (Nov 2013)

BBC Radio Lancashire’s “On the Wire” show (Oct 2013)

Music 101 show on Radio New Zealand (Oct 2013)

Utility Fog show on Sydney’s FBi Radio 94.5FM (Oct 2013)

Indy Man Beer Con (hosted by The Skinny magazine), Victoria Baths, Manchester (Oct 2013)

Supporting Richard Dawson at The Cube, Bristol (Sept 2013)

Product Records Launch Party, with Howie Reeve and Matthew Bourne, Static Gallery, Liverpool (Sept 2013)

Summercamp Festival, Camp and Furnace, Liverpool (Aug 2013)

Liverpool International Music Festival, Bluecoat, Liverpool (Aug 2013)

Lydian. For clarinet and max/MSP electronicsperformed by Nicholas Cox, of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (May 2012)

Live quartet improvisation to two episodes of The Twilight Zone at FACT Liverpool, with Audio Visual  Improvisation Collective, Clearspotting (April 2012) 

a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra at Lutyen’s Crypt, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, including world premiere of Howard Skempton’s Hope Street Melodies (Arts Council / PRS funded) (Dec 2011)

Dustin Wong and Infinite Love Orchestra (funded by Mercy) at closing party of Liverpool Music Week Festival at the Contemporary Urban Centre, Liverpool (Nov 2011)

Echoland duo supporting Trouble Books, electric guitar and max/MSP, at Wolstenholme Creative Space (Aug 2011)

Musical Director and Guitarist for a PRS-Fund performance with Rhys Chatham, including UK premiere of Die Donnergotter, at the Bluecoat, Liverpool (March 2011)