Xiaolian Zhang is a Chinese composer and sound artist based in London, UK, who is particularly interested in granular synthesis and modular synthesis technologies, and innovative usage of Chinese instruments to generate new sonic spectrum. He mainly uses studio-based music technologies, sampler and synthesis in composition and sound design for film, video games and sound arts. His music combines elements of acoustic, electronic, synthesised and found sounds to create imaginative and evolving soundscape. His original score and sound design supported the indie game DCDOR for the first place at the 3rd GameShell competition in 2019, and his latest composition for a visual art project Ma Guoquan 2021 was exhibited at the Tabula Rasa Gallery in Beijing in 2022. His theatre work includes a combination of composition and sound design, including The Little Prince (2018), Not in This Land Alone (2021) and several theatrical works that use Virtual Reality as a narrative medium, including Pi Pa Xing that is an artistic recreation and interpretation to the poem "Pipa Xing" written by Chinese poet Juyi Bai (792 - 846 AC); End of Time that is influenced by and celebrates the master piece Quartet for the End of Time composed by Olivier Messiaen.. His sonic art projects include Changing Waves, Reading Room, Disguised in Nature that explore technologies and the implementation of Chinese culture in modern days.
Originally from Shandong province in the east of China, he studied classical and popular music at the University of Liverpool, specialising in music technology, composition and music performance, where he was tutored by renowned contemporary composers Dr Ben Hackbarth and Dr Oliver Carman. He was subsequently awarded a MRes with Distinction in Music Technology and Film Scoring from the University of Liverpool, where he studied under composer and sound artist Professor Matthew Fairclough. He is also a multi-instrumentalist whose main instrument is piano and classical singing, but also plays Chinese Guqin and Guzheng besides cello and synthesisers.
He has taught music technology, creative composition techniques, film scoring, sound design and audio recording at Royal Holloway University of London and was recognised as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is currently finishing his PhD study in Sound Art and Composition at Royal Holloway University of London, exploring the contemporary sonic practices and the personal interpretation on his Chinese cultural heritage. His practice-research project Disguised in Nature: Birdsong in the Late Digital Age and the Electronisation of Nature was presented and performed at the British Forum of Ethnomusicology 2021 Conference. In 2022 he presented his practice-based research titled Reading Room: Sounding Identity Through a Virtual Installation Experience at the MuSA Conference organised by the University of Middlesex; and Changing Waves: Vocalising the Sonic Representation of Chinese Social-Media Weibo at the TaPRA 2022 Conference held at the University of Essex.