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Richard Seaton

Visiting Honorary Associate

I retired from the University at the end of September 2014. Since then I have been continuing with my research towards a PhD studying the occurrence of pitch drift when singing 'a cappella' Western choral music. As well as being a research student I hold a position of 'Visiting Honorary Associate' with the University. 

I joined the Open University as a full-time lecturer in 1999 having been an associate lecturer for eight years prior to that. I spent twenty years in the telecommunications and computer industries working for companies as varied as GEC Telecommunications Ltd in Coventry and at the second start-up computer company on Aston University's Science park in Birmingham. I joined Coventry Technical College (now Coventry College) in 1987 and headed the Communications Technology group at Coventry prior to moving to the OU.

I attended Warwick School and have studied at Coventry Technical College, Lanchester Polytechnic, Open University, Coventry University, Wolverhampton University and Manchester University. Currently, I am studying for a part-time PhD with the Open University.  

I chaired several modules, was formerly Associate Dean for Curriculum, Programme Director for Undergraduate Technologies and latterly Qualification Lead for the Foundation Degree in Computing and IT Practice plus all vendor and work-based modules in the Undergraduate Computing and IT Programme.

My interests include astronomy, choral singing, cooking, listening to music, photography and travel.

Current Research:

I am studying towards a PhD (commenced MPhil in October 2012) with The Open University. My topic is researching possible reasons for variation in pitch by choirs singing unaccompanied either in complete works or extended sections of accompanied works. I am part of the Acoustics Research Group with my supervisors, Dr Dennis Pim (Lead) and Dr David Sharp. I am also collaborating with Prof David Howard at The University of York.

PhD title: Pitch drift in a cappella choral singing

Abstract: Speak to any choir member about singing music unaccompanied, i.e. a cappella, and they will come up with suggestions as to why their choir drifts in pitch at times. The problem doesn’t occur all the time, but it does happen. My research will attempt to find out if there are particular reasons why pitch drift occurs and suggest possible strategies to solve the problem. I plan to start with a questionnaire to survey choral directors and conductors to try to elicit their suggestions. The results will result in experimentation with choirs to establish which factors may cause pitch drift.

Further details of my research including a link to my Survey of choral practitioners may be found on the Pitch Drift website here. Please do visit my research site and complete the survey if you have any interests in choral singing.

Conference papers:

Seaton R.K., Pim D.N., Sharp D., May 2013, 'Pitch Drift in a cappella choral singing - work in progress', Annual Spring Conference, ACOUSTICS 2013, Institute of Acoustics, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 6 pages, ISBN 978-1-906913-15-1.

Seaton R.K., May 2011 'Practising problem solving using mobile technologies', ICNS 2011, IARIA Conference, Venice, Italy, 6 pages.

Seaton, R.K., and Harvey, M.E., June 2009, ‘Recognising achievement through experiential learning’, 14th Annual Conference of the Learning Styles Information Network, Les Roches-Gruyère University of Applied Sciences, Bulle-en-Gruyère, Switzerland, 6 pages, ISBN 978-80-7399-782-3.

Seaton, R.K., March 2009, ‘Practising computer networking problem solving using learning objects on mobile phones’, Frontiers in Science Educational Research Conference, Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, North Cyprus, 10 pages, ISBN 978-975-8401-67-3.


Winning entry in OU Poster Competition 2013, 12th June 2013 may be viewed here.


During a recent visit to Perth, Western Australia, I was able to make contact with Voice Moves WA and the WASO Chorus. I am grateful for the interest shown by both these organisations.

ABCD Convention at Oxford Brookes University 23-25th August 2013. I am very grateful to the organisers who kindly gave me a stand in the exhibition hall to publicise my research on 24th August. This was an extremely useful day and a deal of interest in my research was expressed by the delegates.

Acoustics Challenges in Quires and places where they sing was a one-day conference held by the Musical Acoustics Group of the Institute of Acoustics in London on 2nd July, 2013. Amongst a most interesting set of presentations was Intonation drift in a cappella SATB quartet singing from Prof David Howard of York University. His research  compliments my work in that he is looking at the musical aspects that affect pitch whilst I am concentrating on the environmental influences.

Qualification Lead for the Foundation Degree in Computing and IT Practice (X15) or Diploma (W15) and the Foundation Degree in Combined Professional Studies (X13) plus all vendor and work-based modules in the Undergraduate Computing and IT Programme. 

I have involvement with the following modules:

  • MT127 Accreditation of certificated practitioners 1 - Presentation Chair
  • TM128 Microsoft server technologies - Author and member of the module team
  • TM129 Technologies in practice - Author and member of the module team 
  • T216 Cisco Networking (CCNA) -  Author and member of module team
  • T122 Career development and employment - Member of the module team
  • T227 Change strategy and projects at work - Member of the module team
  • TA212 The technology of music - Author and member of the module team
  • TM227 Accreditation of certificated practitioners 2 - Presentation Chair
  • U122 Make your experience count - Member of the module team


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 
  • Member of Institute of Engineering Technology

Academic Interests:

Technology of music; accreditation of (prior) experiential and certificated learning; work-based learning; negotiated learning; vendor training; higher apprenticeship programmes.

Email Address: 
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Visiting Honorary Associate

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