Alex Hills is a composer who teaches theory, harmony, analysis and a range of areas in the practice of contemporary music

Alex has been working at the Academy since 2005, and for most of that time has been the co-ordinator of the theory and analysis programme. He also teaches classes in the performance of experimental music, and a postgraduate analysis and aesthetics elective. As a composer, 2 portrait discs of his music have been released on Carrier Records – The Music of Making Strange (2013) and OutsideIn (2020).

Alex’s music has been played by many leading contemporary music groups, including Plus-Minus, EXAUDI, 12 Ensemble and Mosaik in Europe and EitherOr and Earplay in the US. He has a particularly strong interest in conceptual and collaborative projects. After and Before, a work for Ensemble Plus-Minus with Academy colleague Roderick Chadwick as solo pianist, was the result of a collaboration between the two of them into the possibilities of the piano as a spectral instrument. OutsideIn, a violin concerto from 2016, also explores spectral harmony, but from the perspective of middle-out symmetry rather than overtone series built from the bass.

Another strand of his work has been the connection between music and literature, and the capacity of fictional worlds to generate unusual musical languages. His 2014 piece for EXAUDI, Flatland, explores the two-dimensional world of E.A. Abbott’s Victorian science-fiction novel of the same name. In 2022 and 2023, he organised an interdisciplinary project with UCL philosopher Tom Stern on music in Marcel Proust’s À La Recherche du Temps Perdu. As well as research events at both the Academy and UCL, this led to two extended works: a violin and piano piece for Philippe Honoré and Roderick Chadwick, and a large ensemble Septet for 11 Instruments. Both these pieces respond to ideas about music, as well as art, time and memory, in the novel, without trying to re-create the music by Proust’s imaginary composer Vinteuil (see his website for more details). He has also given papers on the connections between both his own music and music in general and the Russian literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky.

‘A composer of interesting and considerable gifts’ — Tim Rutherford-Johnson, reviewing ‘The Music of Making Strange’, in Tempo, January 2014.

‘This is music of extraordinary wit and power, as delicate as it is titanic, equal part waterfall and dewdrop and all inbetween’ – Mark Medwin, reviewing ‘OutsideIn’ in Dusted Magazine, March 2020.


Alex regularly acts as second supervisor for composition PhDs at the Academy, with a particular emphasis on working with students on the commentary component of their work. Topics have included the incorporation of sample-based beat making in contemporary music, the role of the socio-political in a composer’s motivation, and new approaches to rhythmic notation.

Recent Publications

Septet For 11 Instruments – Music History According to Marcel Proust (composition). Premiered at the Academy in October 2023

Misremembrances (composition). Premiered at UCL in June 2022, Phillipe Honoré and Roderick Chadwick.

OutsideIn (portrait CD – OutsideIn, Flatland, Short Long Shrink Stretch), released on Carrier Records 2020.

The Music of Making Strange (portrait CD – After and Before, Knight’s Move, Some States Can Be Resolved Rhythmically, -Verse, Alles, Ostranenie), released on Carrier Records 2013.