Professor Sue Miller
Sue Miller is a Professor of Music, teaching on the undergraduate and postgraduate courses in music performance and production. She specialises in Cuban/Latin music, improvisation, music analysis and music history within the fields of performance, (ethno)musicology and popular music studies.
Professor Miller's books 'Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation' (Scarecrow Press, 2014) and 'Improvising Sabor: Cuban Dance Music in New York' (University Press of Mississippi, 2021) combine the fields of performance, music analysis and ethnographic fieldwork to document and re-evaluate the history of Cuban music performance practice and history in both Cuba and the USA. Additionally her recent British Academy funded practice research project employed experimental archaeology approaches to live studio performance of Latin music. She is also a professional flute player and musical director of the band Charanga del Norte, which she founded in 1998. Recent recordings include 'Pachanga Time' (2020) 'Charanga Time' (2017), and 'Atilana' (2015), the latter of which forms part of a collaborative music, dance and animation research project outlined in a journal article for a special issue on practice research for the journal Ethnomusicology Forum.
Sue completed her PhD on 'Flute Improvisation in Cuban Charanga Performance' at the University of Leeds in 2011 having previously studied charanga flute improvisation with the renowned improviser Richard Egües from Orquesta Aragón in Havana in 2000 and 2001. In addition to performing with her own group and other UK salsa bands she has performed with veteran charanga musicians in Havana and New York including Estrellas Cubanas, Charanga de Oro, Orquesta Sublime, Orquesta Barbarito Díez and Orquesta Broadway. Her research is therefore informed by her experiences as a professional musician as well as by her academic research into improvisation and Cuban music. In addition to her academic work Sue maintains her professional practice and has recently collaborated with Lin Manuel Miranda’s arranger Alex Lacamoire on the Sony Entertainments animation production Vivo (2021).
As a linguist with degrees in languages (French, Hindi and Linguistics) and translation (at the Universities of York and Leeds respectively) Sue is committed to the teaching and research of popular music with a broad international reach. She has written a book chapter in Spanish on Cuban danzón (‘¿El danzón inglés? La improvisación de la flauta en el danzón’ in 'Diálogos del Danzón con la Identidad Nacional' edited by musicologist Dr Alicia Valdés and her work has been translated into Spanish and published in the Cuban music journal 'Clave'. She has also collaborated with international scholars on the music of Serge Gainsbourg with a forthcoming chapter ‘Latin Gainsbourg and the Parisian Nightclub Scene’ published in 'Serge G.: An International Perspective on Serge Gainsbourg' edited by Olivier Julien & Olivier Bourderionnet, London & New York: Bloomsbury, 2022.
A qualified teacher (PGCE) and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Sue has also published in the field of music education contributing book chapters on the teaching of improvisation and on the creative combination of performance and production in higher education, informed by both her professional practice and her extensive experience as a music educator.
- Selected recordings
- Sue Miller and her Charanga del Norte, Atilana, CDN00CD11, 2015
- The Essential Guide to Salsa Union Square Records, ESGCD303, 2005 and re-issued 2012.
- Sue Miller and her Charanga del Norte, Look Back in Charanga CDN00CD10, 2010.
- Charanga del Norte, Our Mam in Havana CDN00CD09, 2008.
- Everybody Salsa Volume 2 Avid Records, BMG, AVC 677, 1999.
- Everybody Salsa Volume 1 Avid Records, BMG, AVC 636, 1998.
- Selected Performances
- 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 Arts Council of England funded UK tours, Charanga del Norte. Various Venues.
- 2003 Performance with Charanga del Norte at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester supporting Buena Vista Social Club’s Eliades Ochoa (2 July).
- 2007 Performance in New York as guest flautist with Orquesta Broadway at the Mamoncillo Festival, New Jersey.
- 2009 Charanga del Norte in Victoria Park, London with Orquesta Aragón & Changüi de Guantánamo (Barbican booking).
- 2009 Performances in Havana as guest flautist with Orquesta Sublime in the Cabaret Nacional and with Estrellas Cubanas at the Union Fraternal and Teatro América.
- 2013 Charanga del Norte, Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.
- 2014 Charanga del Norte, Senate House, London.
- 2015 Charanga del Norte, University of Reading
- 2016 Cambridge Big Weekend and Cambridge Jazz Festival
- Selected Compositions
Dance Theatre Productions (Arts Council commissioned)
- 2004 Cusan Dance Theatre show “Valentino” (toured).
- 2004 Cusan Dance Theatre show “La Carmela” (toured).
Lecturing on the BA (Hons) Performance and Production course and the MA in Popular Music and Culture, Sue is Course Leader for the MA in Popular Music and Culture and teaches the performance and analysis modules at Undergraduate level. MA teaching includes modules on popular music analysis and popular music history. PhD supervisions focus on practice research, music performance, music analysis and other areas within the fields of performance, ethnomusicology and popular music studies.
Professor Miller's research interests include Cuban Music (history, analysis and performance), Latin music in the USA, performance aesthetics, improvisation studies and the creative process in improvisation, music, gesture and dance relationships, practice research and artistic practice, French popular music and culture and the history and analysis of African American music.
Her research raises awareness of alternative historical narratives on Latin music through ethnography, live performance, recording and music analysis. The combination of both written (books and journal articles) and practice research (a British Academy funded project) has created new knowledge and insights communicated to the public through written publications, live performances, the production of research-led commercial recordings, film documentary, public-facing publications, international radio features, interviews and online engagement.
Ask Me About
- African American music
- Artistic practice
- Gesture and dance relationships
- Improvisation studies
- Latin music in the USA
- Cuban music
- Performance aesthetics
- Practice research
- French popular music
Miller SM (2021) Improvising Sabor: Cuban Dance Music in New York. University Press of Mississippi.
Miller SM (2014) Cuban Flute Style: Interpretation and Improvisation. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
Miller SM (2023) ‘Latin’ Gainsbourg and the Parisian Nightclub Scene. In: Julien O; Bourderionnet O ed. Serge G. An International Perspective on Serge Gainsbourg.
Miller SM (2022) ‘El Danzón Ingles?’ - La improvisación de la flauta en el danzón. In: Valdes A ed. Diálogos del Danzón con la Identidad Nacional.. Havana, Cuba: Nuevo Milenio de la Editorial Ciencias Sociales,
Miller SM (2015) Activating Improvisational Creativity in the Performance of 'World' and 'Popular' Music. In: Burnard P; Haddon E ed. Activating Diverse Musical Creativities: Teaching and Learning in Higher Music Education. Bloomsbury Academic,
Miller SM (2014) ‘Música Guajira’. In: Horn D ed. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (EPMOW): Part 3 Genres (Caribbean and Latin American Genres).. Bloomsbury,
Miller SM (2014) Cuban Son. In: The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (EPMOW): Part 3 Genres (Caribbean and Latin American Genres). Bloomsbury,
Miller S; Bowen SL; Davis G (2022) A Musico-Choreographic Analysis of a Cuban Dance Routine – A Performance-Informed Approach. Ethnomusicology Forum
Miller SM (2020) Pacheco and Charanga: imitation, innovation and cultural appropriation in the típico tradition of New York City. Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamerica, 41 (1),
Miller SM (2013) Perceptions of Authenticity in the Performance of Cuban Popular Music in the UK: ‘globalised incuriosity’ in the promotion and reception of UK-based Charanga del Norte's music since 1998. Journal of European Popular Culture, 4 (1), pp. 99-116.
Miller SM (2011) 'Flute Improvisation In Cuban Charanga Performance: with a specific focus on the work of Richard Egües and Orquesta Aragón'. [PhD Thesis]. University of Leeds.