Welcome to the official website of Sasha Valeri Millwood




Millwood performing at Madingley Hall -- photograph courtesy of Gregor Forbes

Millwood is a doctoral researcher working under the joint auspices of the University of Glasgow and the British Library, investigating the music of Thea Musgrave, in respect of whom the largest known institutional archival holding is at the latter institution. Drawing on the wealth of documentation available in this archive whilst also reflecting on its limitations, the project interrogates Musgrave’s praxis as a composer, analysing her compositional processes and the influences exerted thereon. In particular, the project proposes a critical framework for some of the diverse working relationships cultivated between Musgrave and the performers with whom she collaborates.

The methodology combines a number of approaches in the framing and situating of Musgrave’s oeuvre. A selection of close readings analysing the structure and notation of her music, as well as associated text (where applicable), elucidates and clarifies the practical manifestations of Musgrave’s ideas. Concepts from genetic criticism are brought to bear on discussions and comparisons involving some of the sketches, drafts, and revisions. These close readings inform, are informed by, and sometimes challenge the narratives advanced in biographies, interviews, programme notes, and other documentation within and outwith the archive at the British Library. In addition to musicological perspectives, the research is informed by critical approaches from theatre studies, in order to examine Musgrave’s manifold theatrical and/or dramatic propensities, and reflections on the nature and distribution of her archival materials.

As part of the research, a catalogue of the Musgrave archive at the British Library is being prepared, and certain facets are being indexed. Meanwhile, interviews with Musgrave and her associates will give rise to a major new primary source.

Millwood has presented on facets of the research in various fora and various formats, including international conferences (for details, see this list of conferences). An engaging and confident speaker, he is open to invitations to lecture or present on his research (or on more general topics), whether in specialist or non‑specialist contexts.

Millwood’s doctoral supervisors are Dr Martin Parker Dixon, Dr Simon Murray, and Richard Chesser.

Background and pre‑doctoral experience

Millwood possesses a wide range of scholarly interests encompassing both the theoretical and practical facets of music, musicology, music theory, and related disciplines (and some unrelated ones!). He possesses a particular expertise in fugue and pitch‑class set theory (or set‑class theory), and — in additon to pursuing his own research and compositional endeavours in those fields — is regularly in demand to answer enquiries from researchers and students. He has considerable professional experience as a music typesetter and editor, including work with manuscripts and with recordings. In the course of his doctoral studies, he is developing further specialist skills in response to the demands of the Musgrave archive.

Millwood’s undergraduate education was undertaken at Girton College, University of Cambridge, where he read the Music Tripos, attaining upper‑second‑class honours in each part. His primary motivation in choosing Cambridge was the opportunity to learn how to write fugues, so it is probably unsurprising that his strongest performance was in that facet: in Part IB of the Tripos (sat in 2012), his coursework fugue scored the highest in the cohort, an achivement repeated with the four‐hour Fugue paper in Part II of the Tripos (sat in 2013). His supervisor for harmony and counterpoint was his Director of Studies, Dr Martin Ennis.

Besides harmony and counterpoint, a major specialisation for Millwood comprises the quantitative methodologies of music theory, particularly serial analysis and pitch‑class set theory (or set‑class theory). His undergraduate analysis portfolio, supervised by Dr Paul Wingfield, compared and contrasted the approaches to pitch‑class set genera by Forte and Parks, appraising their strengths and weaknesses in application to Ligeti’s ‘Arc‑en‑ciel’ étude. In the process, Millwood discovered some mathematically suspect rounding practices in Forte’s measurement of status quotient (squo). Meanwhile, his Master’s dissertation, supervised by Dr Claire Taylor‑Jay, appraised how pitch‑class set analysis can be utilised in conjunction with serial analysis in Schoenberg’s Phantasy for violin with piano accompaniment, whilst broadening the discourse to consider the structuralist dialectic of the fantastical in literature and the relation between violin and pianoforte.

Millwood is an avid reader with a wont for questioning all manner of issues, from performance practice to music analysis, from aesthetics to data interpretation, encompassing both his own areas of specialist knowledge and more general issues, including ethics and politics. He comments on all manner of fora (usually anonymously or pseudonymously). The importance Millwood places upon independent reading and original research was manifest in his undergraduate years, whether undertaking an individual project or studying for a paper in music history. Not content to take secondary literature at its word, he frequently consulted primary sources and the music itself, and liked nothing better than to discover expections, contradictions, and elucidatory examples that had not been cited in lectures. A profuse user of physical books and journals, he was (and remains) liberal in allowing himself to stray off the list to pursue a serendipitously discovered chapter or article of interest.

Typesetter and editor

Millwood is an expert user of Sibelius 6 software, having learned, from many years of experience, how to manage the content and appearence of a score, from general matters of house style to intricate details, such as controlling where a hairpin ends and hiding sections of barline that clash with text. As a professional composer (who is familiar with severe shortages of rehearsal time) and performer (who has suffered his fair share of atrocious parts) himself, he appreciates the immense importance of rendering the engraving as clear and tidy as possible, with sensible spacing and — so far as is practicable — convenient page‑turns.

Millwood can work off many types of source material, including handwritten manuscripts, facsimiles, printed music, and even recordings. Where ambiguities exist (which they often do, especially in handwritten media!), he can make editorial suggestions or decisions, which can be discussed or assembled into commentaries. He can also write idiomatic realisations and completions, especially for passages where the composer had started to make a major alteration but had not written it out in full. He is also capable of working at speed, particularly for straightforward assignments such as transposing or "clef‑modernising".

Probably the most thrilling facet of this work is the discovery of music that was never published, whether due to obscurity or to being truncated, and Millwood has been instrumental in enabling such music to be analysed, performed, and/or heard, sometimes for the first time in decades. His diverse experience in this facet ranges from transcribing the actual opening of Sweeney Todd (as opposed to the one found in the official score) for a colleague’s dissertation to typesetting and editing manuscripts by Frederick Septimus Kelly and his contemporaries for the "Fateful Voyage" project, a City of London Festival concert curated by the academic Dr Kate Kennedy, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

In the course of his doctoral research, meanwhile, Millwood’s focus is upon furnishing scholarly elucidation the musical output of a published composer, Thea Musgrave, through detailed scrutiny of her manuscripts and papers.

See also: fees for typesetting.


Millwood is well known for his pedantry in respect of grammar, syntax, and punctuation. He is an experienced proof‐reader of dissertations, programme notes, correspondence, and notated music. His clients include researchers, students (both undergraduate and postgraduate), composers, performers, orchestras, festivals, publishers, societies, and institutions.

Work is usually carried out by physical or electronic correspondence, although site visits may be possible (especially where the assignment involves proof‐reading music typescripts against a physical manuscript in the possession of the composer/publisher/archive).

Proof‐reading of text

Proof‐reading of text usually takes the form of comments and suggested amendments, which may be made either as annotations or as a separate list. Where the subject of your work intersects with my expertise, I may, at my discretion, offer feedback above and beyond the remit of proof‐reader.

I will work within the house style you have chosen (or to which you are required to adhere), although I would advise you if I thought it were inappropriate. In many cases, there may be more than one acceptable solution, but consistency is vital. Whilst it is possible to infer most parameters of the house style from reading the text, it is preferable for information thereon, where it is to hand, to be provided (e.g.: policy on the serial comma; permissibility of contractions; British or American spelling; character for decimal point; utilisation of abbreviations; criteria for italicisation and representation of diegetic italics; policy on quotation marks; and plural forms for foreign words commonly used in English, such as concerto, prima donna, Lied, Terzverwandschaft, haute‐contre, and cor anglais).

See also: fees for proof‑reading of text.

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