Music, Law, and Society

It was a great pleasure this week to give an invited lecture entitled “Language and Cultural Policy: Rethinking Music’s Significance,” for the International Law Summit in Bergen on The Language and Law. The law professors there, many of whom were from China, showed great interest in the topic and had excellent suggestions.

Law has been of increasing interest to me across recent years, and during the past few summers I have taught Cultural Policy courses for international PhD students at Bergen Summer Research School as well as law students at the China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing.

I am now developing a book with contributors from several countries that addresses how government policies can effectively support the sustainability of music traditions through various public institutions. This will most likely become part of the Deep Soundings book series with Rowman & Littlefield (Lexington), but I also mentioned it in my discussion with Routledge editors who had arranged a recent meeting with me in Bergen. Although the book is still under development, we have likely contributions from China, Vietnam, Sweden, Poland, Guyana, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and other countries.

Public institutions, such as schools, universities, concert halls, museums, and galleries - as well as memorials and protected heritage sites - play an important role in ensuring that the arts and cultural heritage can remain viable for future generations. This is not only a local or national concern, but a global one, as recognized by UNESCO and other organizations. However, some kinds of laws and programs certainly function better than others, and there is a need for more robust, critical and comparative studies in this field.   

Below is a photo from my speech at the International Law Summit: 

Click HERE for a law-related article that I developed with Finnish scholar Marja Heimonen in an earlier phase of my career, and HERE for a later article we developed.

Some of the earliest laws in Northern Europe were written in runes on stone surfaces such as this one, which I photographed last week as part of some research on Viking Age and early Medieval times: 


Book on Ancient Musicians

The scholarly journal World of Music will soon be publishing my review of a unique book entitled The Mystery of Music: An Exploration Centered on the Lives of Thirty Ancient Musicians (by Lewis Holmes, CEK Publishing, 2018).

Author Lewis Holmes, an interdisciplinary scientist, participated in the Historical Ethnomusicology section of the Society for Ethnomusicology, during the period in which I led this group with Jonathan McCollum, and in his book develops some important extensions on theories in this specialized field. Holmes spent many years drawing on knowledge from an array of academic fields (archaeology, history, musicology, etc.) to produce the material in this book, which I think is written with unusual clarity and is likely to be of interest to musicians and music teachers working in all kinds of settings, from primary school through university.

Below are links for more information, and I will soon include a link here to the review when it is published in The World of Music toward the end of 2019:


Nordic/Baltic Music Education Master Course

The Nordic Network for Music Education (NNME) will soon offer its 2019 joint intensive Master course, held in Sweden this year at the Malmo Academy of Music (Lund University). Professors and students will participate from the postgraduate music education programs in all eight Nordic and Baltic countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, with financial support from Nordplus. The theme for this year is Digital Competence and Music Beyond Europe.

This year the keynote speakers include Anna Houmann, Markus Tullberg, Alex Ruthmann, Eva Saether, David Johnson, Adam Switala, and others. There will be a special presentation by Chinese musicians from the Music Confucius Institute, Royal Academy of Music, Copenhagen. There will also be several performances of traditional music from Scandinavia and an array of Middle Eastern cultures.

Students will also present their ongoing thesis research projects, which cover a vast array of topics, and receive European university credits (ECTS). We are confident that by the end of the course, the participating postgraduate students will have a better understanding of the state of music education across Northern Europe, a more fully developed plan for their own research, and a stronger sense of how digital competence and diverse world music cultures may be meaningfully introduced to their own students.

Click HERE to access the program for the NNME 2019 course in Malmo, Sweden.

Displayed here is a poster designed by Eva Saether and the other conference hosts in Malmo.

Link to Malmo Academy of Music, Lund University: https://en-mhm.prodwebb.lu.se/


Review of Routledge International Handbook of the Arts and Education

My review of the Routledge International Handbook of the Arts and Education is now published in International Journal of Education & the Arts.


Fieldwork Research on Music in Vietnam

East Asia has long been one of my geographic areas of specialization, but recently personal interests have extended to the southern parts of China (Quanzhou: Nanyin music and the maritime Silk Road) and even into the southernmost part of this region: Vietnam

It has been a great experience to visit Saigon for the second time this year for an additional period of fieldwork research on both local Mekong Delta traditional music and intercultural experimental music (combining Vietnamese and avant garde western electronic music techniques).

Vietnam is experiencing rapid social and economic changes across recent years and is a nation with rich and unique cultural heritage, including a fascinating array of musical instruments. I have also been learning much from serving as a reviewer for the new PhD dissertation “The Choreography of Gender in Traditional Vietnamese Music” by Nguyễn, Thanh Thủy, a master performer of the dan tranh who later studied artistic research in music at Lund University, Sweden.

The outstanding Swedish research team that I am working with in Vietnam is making high-quality sound recordings and will be releasing a full professional album and producing various publications from this project.

Relevant links: http://www.thesixtones.net/

P.S. Pictured above is an idyllic image of the Vietnamese countryside, but most of this project is spent in a recording studio in the densely populated, noisy, and rapidly-growing Ho Chi Minh City.


Reviews of Music Glocalization Book

There have already been some positive reviews of our book from 2018, Music Glocalization: Heritage and Innovation in a Digital Age, and it is cited in recent publications by scholars in Cyprus, Poland, Norway, and the Czech Republic. Additionally, my co-editor Mikolaj Rykowski has been favorably reviewed for a promotion, with this book as a significant part of his portfolio. 

Below are some excerpts from the recent reviews of our book:

According to leading glocalization theorist Victor Roudometof, “The volume displays remarkable thematic coherence, which allows the editors to use the material presented within individual chapters in order to build broader theoretical arguments. In its conception and execution, this volume is a noteworthy effort to insert the problematic of glocalization into the disciplines of musicology and ethnomusicology … The author advances the notion of being ‘glocalimbodied’ (2018:6), a neologism that combines ‘glocal’ with ‘limbo’ in order to make sense of an unbalanced condition attributed to glocal forces as well as the necessity of situating the body within the newfound condition of personalized branding strategies … The editors’ synthesis of the volume’s research is highly original and represents a good point of departure for thinking further about the uses of glocalization in musicology” (Victor Roudometof, Ethnomusicology Review, 2019).

According to Professor Wai-Chung Ho (Hong Kong), “This book offers a critical study of the undertheorized concept of glocalization, intertwining the global and the ‘local’ forces between music and society, both past and present … the book provides a fresh amalgam of perspectives that address music-related subjects. It also covers diverse topics from theoretical perspectives on local and global identities of music, art music composition in the digital age, glocalized music beyond Europe, and glocalized music professions… This book is the first comprehensive account of how the notion of ‘glocalization’ may be useful in rethinking nationality in music and the use of local musical traditions that serve as a means for global strategies. It reconstructs the emergence of music in the global context and provides an innovative framework for studying how glocalization transforms aesthetic hierarchies and cultural transmissions, thus breaking new ground for musicology and the sociology of music” (Wai-Chung Ho, Cambridge Scholars blog, 2018). 

Here is a link for reviews of my other books:


Honorary Professorship in Hong Kong

It was a great pleasure to officially learn today that I have been appointed Honorary Professor with the Department of Culture and Creative Arts at The Education University of Hong Kong.

This university has become one of the world's leading institutions in the field of education, and it is especially making important contributions in East Asia, where education has long been highly valued.

Here is a link to the university’s website: https://www.eduhk.hk/main/

I eagerly look forward to further collaborations with the outstanding colleagues in Hong Kong.