Dr Chanan Hanspal

Lecturer, Popular Music

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Cambridge School of Creative Industries

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Music

Courses taught: Popular Music

Chanan specialises in music theory and performance, improvisation, composition and jazz fusion guitar techniques.

Hear Chanan's music on Bandcamp



Chanan is a composer and guitarist and has worked in the music industry since 1993. He has performed and recorded with a variety of artists including John Medeski, Roots Manuva, Jazz Jamaica, Kylie Minogue, Jeff Lorber, Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Valerie Etienne (Galliano), The Roots, Quest Love, Adam F, Imanni (Incognito) and Summer. His compositions and guitar playing have aroused interest of notable luminaries including, Nigel Kennedy, Michael Torke, Mark King and Bill Evans (ex-Miles Davis).

His TV, film and radio credits include music composed for BBC 2 The Big Trip, appearances on Top of the Pops and The National Lottery. Chanan also appeared as the character Jon in Gary Oldman's film, Nil by Mouth released by Sony Pictures. Both original jazz compositions 'It's only just a garden' and 'Jazz Scuffle' received extended radio play in Japan, Holland, New York and the UK, including Jazz FM and the Gilles Peterson Show on BBC radio 1. In addition, he has toured and performed worldwide playing some of the most prestigious venues and events including, Jazzhaus, Freiburg Germany, Olympia, Paris, Jazz Café and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, Glastonbury Festival, Velfarre in Tokyo and WOMAD Festival.

At the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music in Perth, Chanan studied jazz and then went on to study for his MMus at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. While studying for his Masters, he prepared various papers on several topics including Mozart's Singspiel, Veer towards serialism, Identity crisis in Australian music and Is there such a thing as Australian jazz? For a two year tenure, he was a columnist for Future Publishing's Guitarist Magazine, preparing a series of columns on the playing styles of Frank Gambale, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Billy Gibbons and other rock, jazz, blues and metal guitarists. Chanan has recorded for Virgin, Sony, Dorado and Instinct Records, and has independently released two solo albums, Mad Jazz Guitar (2003) and Ephemeral Morph (2013).

Research interests

  • Music Analysis
  • The orchestral music of Frank Zappa
  • The chronological development of jazz improvisation
  • Identity issues in Australian music


  • MMus, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  • PGCE, University of Greenwich, London
  • Associate Diploma in Performing Arts (Jazz), Western Australian Conservatorium of Music, Perth

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of PRS/MCPS, UK

Recent presentations and conferences

Frank Zappa the Isomelicist and Intervallic Manipulator. Paper delivered at the IASPM: Popular Music Futures conference. Cardiff University, 10-11 September 2015.