Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Culture, Nature

edited by Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe (Routledge 2016) (hardcover ISBN 9781138804586, paperback ISBN 9781138062498)

Winner of the 2018 Ellen Koskoff Edited Volume Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology

This volume is the first sustained examination of the complex perspectives that comprise ecomusicology—the study of the intersections of music/sound, culture/society, and nature/environment. Twenty-two authors provide a range of theoretical, methodological, and empirical chapters representing disciplines such as anthropology, biology, ecology, environmental studies, ethnomusicology, history, literature, musicology, performance studies, and psychology. They bring their specialized training to bear on interdisciplinary topics, both individually and in collaboration. Emerging from the whole is a view of ecomusicology as a field, a place where many disciplines come together. The topics addressed in this volume—contemporary composers and traditional musics, acoustic ecology and politicized soundscapes, material sustainability and environmental crisis, familiar and unfamiliar sounds, local places and global warming, birds and mice, hearing and listening, biomusic and soundscape ecology, and more—engage with conversations in the various realms of music study as well as in environmental studies and cultural studies. As with any healthy ecosystem, the field of ecomusicology is dynamic, but this edited collection provides a snapshot of it in a formative period. Each chapter is short, designed to be accessible to the nonspecialist, and includes extensive bibliographies; some chapters also provide further materials on [this] companion website. An introduction and interspersed editorial summaries help guide readers through four current directions—ecological, fieldwork, critical, and textual—in the field of ecomusicology.

Aaron S. Allen is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA, where he is also director of the Environment and Sustainability Program. A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he earned a Ph.D. in music from Harvard after earning a B.A. in music and B.S. in environmental studies from Tulane. He has published on campus environmental issues, Beethoven, and ecomusicology.

Kevin Dawe is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the School of Music and Fine Art at the University of Kent, UK. He has degrees in music, biology, and anthropology. His publications include the single-authored books The New Guitarscape (2010) and Music and Musicians in Crete (2007) as well as edited collections.

Published Reviews:


Online Supplement

In the table of contents that follows, titles with a hyperlink provide further materials or complete text. Click on the “[+show]” / “[-hide]” to show/hide the abstract for each chapter, or click here to show all abstracts.


Chapter 1
Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe
pages 1-15 [+ show]


Ecological Directions
Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe
pages 17-23

Chapter 2
The Ecology of Musical Performance: Towards a Robust Methodology
W. Alice Boyle and Ellen Waterman
pages 25-39 [+ show]


Chapter 3
Ecomusicology, Ethnomusicology, and Soundscape Ecology: Scientific and Musical Responses to Sound Study
Margaret Q. Guyette and Jennifer C. Post
pages 40-56 [+ show]


Chapter 4
“No Tree—No Leaf”: Applying Resilience Theory to Eucalypt-Derived Musical Traditions
Robin Ryan
pages 57-68 [+ show]


Chapter 5
Why Thoreau?
Jeff Todd Titon
pages 69-79 [+ show]



Fieldwork Directions
Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe
pages 81-88


Chapter 6
Natural Species, Sounds, and Humans in Lowland South America: The Kĩsêdjê/Suyá, Their World, and the Nature of Their Musical Experience
Anthony Seeger
pages 89-98 [+ show]


Chapter 7
Of Human and Non-human Birds: Indigenous Music Making and Sentient Ecology in Northwestern Mexico
Helena Simonett
pages 99-108 [+ show]


Chapter 8
Materials Matter: Towards a Political Ecology of Musical Instrument Making
Kevin Dawe
pages 109-121 [+ show]


Chapter 9
“Keepin’ It Real”: Musicking and Solidarity, the Hornby Island Vibe
Andrew Mark
pages 122-134 [+ show]


Chapter 10
Late Soviet Discourses of Nature and the Natural: Musical Avtentyka, Native Faith, and “Cultural Ecology” after Chornobyl
Maria Sonevytsky and Adrian Ivakhiv
pages 135-146 [+ show]



Critical Directions
Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe
pages 147-152


Chapter 11
Critical Theory in Ecomusicology
James Rhys Edwards
pages 153-164 [+ show]


Chapter 12
Nature and Culture, Noise and Music: Perception and Action
W. Luke Windsor
pages 165-175 [+ show]


Chapter 13
Aural Rights and Early Environmental Ethics: Negotiating the Post-War Soundscape
Alexandra Hui
pages 176-187 [+ show]


Chapter 14
Music, Television Advertising, and the Green Positioning of the Global Energy Industry
Travis D. Stimeling
pages 188-199 [+ show]


Chapter 15
Pop Ecology: Lessons from Mexico
Mark Pedelty
pages 200-211 [+ show]



Textual Directions
Aaron S. Allen and Kevin Dawe
pages 213-219


Chapter 16
Ecocriticism and Traditional English Folk Music
David Ingram
pages 221-232 [+ show]


Chapter 17
The Peasant’s Voice and the Tourist’s Gaze: Listening to Landscape in Luc Ferrari’s Petite symphonie intuitive pour un paysage de printemps
Eric Drott
pages 233-244 [+ show]


Chapter 18
Negotiating Nature and Music through Technology: Ecological Reflections in the Works of Maggi Payne and Laurie Spiegel
Sabine Feisst
pages 245-257 [+ show]


Chapter 19
Musical Actions, Political Sounds: Libby Larsen and Composerly Consciousness
Denise Von Glahn
pages 258-272 [+ show]


Chapter 20
New Directions: Ecological Imaginations, Soundscapes, and Italian Opera
Aaron S. Allen
pages 273-285 [+ show]



Glossary of Keywords
pages 287-292

pages 293-298

pages 299-313