Music: A Powerful Tool for International Harmony and Peace

Here is a link to an article in The Norwegian American, a publication with a 130-year history connected to the community of Norwegians and their descendants in the US:

I was pleasantly surprised to see this article published on Christmas Day, 2019. How did it happen? While at a music conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan earlier this year I was approached by a Geneva-based author named Marit Fosse who works closely with diplomats. She interviewed me for an article that I understand will appear in a few different publications, including both this one and a magazine for embassy-affiliated personnel. Hopefully the articles will generate broader interest in the social impact of music.  


Deep Soundings in the Future

Across the past year we have received some excellent proposals for our new book series Deep Soundings: The Lexington Series in Historical Ethnomusicology (Rowman & Littlefield). We anticipate the series will soon include some unique books on musical developments in South Africa, India, Syria, and other places. More details will be posted here as the individual book projects near completion and are prepared for publication.

Here is a link for further information on the book series:


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.