While studying at Glasgow University, Lyall’s abilities in composition and piano playing were recognized with the award of the Goudie Prize for Composition. He also explored the field of electronic composition, arising from which was his project, ‘Tilting Ground’, broadcast by the BBC in 1993, and the formation of an electro-acoustic trio, Green Room. Much of his work after leaving university, however, found him concentrating on playing the piano. His musical interests are wide and his repertoire ranges over classical forms and contemporary jazz, including free improvisation. He was soon in demand as one of Scotland’s leading accompanists, working with many artists from the UK, Scandinavia and the USA. These include Tony Scott, Arild Andersen, Steven Osborne, Tom Bancroft and Jon Christensen, Joe Maneri, Laura MacDonald, Martin Kershaw, Rick Margitza, Petter Wettre, Tore Brunborg, and Joakim Milder. In 2003, Lyall was pianist and assistant conductor for the Garlton Singers and the same year was pianist with East Lothian Concert Opera. Among many television and radio broadcasts Lyall has made are ‘Threads’, a 1988 work for bass clarinet and computer generated sound that was commissioned by Musica Nova, and ‘Suite For Jazz Quintet’ (1991).
In the early 00s, Lyall divided his time between composing, performing and teaching, having been active in this last area from the mid-80s. Among several academic posts Lyall has held are Director of Music at Drumley House School, Ayrshire (1986/7), part-time member of faculty at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (1996-98), and in 2000 he was artist-in-residence at Govan High School in Glasgow. Also in the early 00s, he has held posts as part-time lecturer at James Watt College, Greenock, and visiting lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Among Lyall’s other commissioned works are ‘Voiceover’, for the 1988 Glasgow International Jazz Festival, ‘Suite For Quintet’, for the 1990 GIJF, ‘Rites For Orchestra’ (1993) for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, ‘Eyes Of Fire’ (1994) for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, ‘John Muir Suite’ (1999) and ‘The North Bridge’ (2001), both for the Scottish Jazz Composers Orchestra, ‘Short Suite’ (2001) for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, and ‘Duologue’ (2004) for the Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust.