Louis Niebur, Ph.D.

Director of Graduate Studies; Professor of Musicology
Louis Niebur


Louis Niebur is a professor of musicology at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research fields include avant-garde and popular music of the post-war era, including music in radio, television and film, and the significance of popular music to LGBTQ communities, particularly as it has shifted between live music, the jukebox and the disc jockey in the context of queer spaces. He has delivered and published papers on such topics as San Francisco's "post-disco" dance music culture of the early 1980s, a history of Camp Records and other gay recording labels of the 1960s, electronic television music in Britain, the role of women in early electronic music studios, the use of sound effects as music in radio drama and the gendered role of electronic sound production, as manifested in gay electronic dance music.

He received his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of California, Los Angeles with a dissertation on the development of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, one of the earliest electronic music studios and his MM from the University of Texas at Austin.

Niebur is also an experienced early music performer and director, having performed extensively over the last 26 years in repertoires from the 8th - 18th centuries. In his career, he has worked under such distinguished early music scholars as Elizabeth Aubrey, Martin Jenni, Rebecca Baltzer and Philip Brett. He was the director of UCLA's early music ensemble, Musica Humana and is currently the music director of Reno Early Music.



  • Ph.D., Musicology, UCLA
  • MM, University of Texas at Austin

Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Special Sound traces the fascinating creation and legacy of the BBC's electronic music studio, the Radiophonic Workshop, in the context of other studios in Europe and America. The BBC built a studio to provide its own avant-garde dramatic productions with experimental sounds "neither music nor sound effect." Quickly, however, a popular kind of electronic music emerged in the form of quirky jingles, signature tunes such as Doctor Who, and incidental music for hundreds of programs. These influential sounds and styles, heard by millions of listeners over decades of operation on television and radio, have served as a primary inspiration for the use of electronic instruments in popular music.

Using in-depth research in the studio's archives and papers, this book tells the history of the many engineers, composers, directors, and producers behind the studio to trace the shifting perception towards electronic music in Britain. Combining historical discussion of the people and instruments in the workshop with analysis of specific works, Louis Niebur creates a new model for understanding how the Radiophonic Workshop fits into the larger history of electronic music.

  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019536841X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195368413
  • Purchase from amazon.com:

Visit the Oxford University Press Companion Site for  Special Sound.