Dr Eliot Bates PhD

Department of Music
Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies

Contact details

Arts Building 421
Music Department
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I specialize in the ethnography of digital audio production, and have done extensive field research in recordings studios in Turkey (since 2004) and California (since 1999). Besides my research interests I am also a performer and recording artist of the Anatolian oud (`ud).


PhD University of California, Berkeley (ethnomusicology, under the supervision of Prof. Benjamin Brinner), MA Wesleyan University (ethnomusicology and interactive computer media, under the supervision of Prof. Mark Slobin), BM University of California, Santa Barbara (music composition with an electroacoustic focus). Prior to joining the faculty at Birmingham, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an ACLS New Faculty Fellow at Cornell University.


I teach modules and give lectures on ethnomusicology, sound studies, popular music studies, expressive arts and culture in the contemporary Middle East, and the musicology of record production.

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss potential supervision with postgraduate candidates pursuing research on topics relating to sound studies, the art and practice of recording production (including all forms of music), contemporary and historical music practices in the Middle East, ethnographic projects relating to the music of Birmingham, and ethnographies of online music communities.


I am an ethnomusicologist by training, and my research focuses on ethnographic approaches to the study of digital recording production, including the studio performance of Anatolian folk and Ottoman art musics and experimental electroacoustic genres (ambient/EDM). I also research acoustic musical instruments in contemporary society, with a key focus on instrument agency, makers, and changes in the performance practice of acoustic instruments due to their amplification and use in digital recordings.

My first book, Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010 as part of the Global Music Series. Music in Turkey focuses on the contemporary musical life of Istanbul, and its overarching theme is that music in twentieth-century Turkey had a primary role in forming a national consciousness about Anatolian local and regional cultural differences. I explore this theme by analyzing musical nationalisms in Turkey, instrument builders, folkloric dances, pedagogies, rhythms, recording arrangement styles and musical aesthetics.

I am in the final stages of a ten-year project focused on studio musicianship, song arrangement and audio engineering in the music and film industries of Istanbul. In Digital Tradition: Arranging and Engineering Traditional Music in Turkey, I explore the (digital) mode of production and musical aesthetics used for products marketed and consumed as traditional and folkloric. To make sense of studio work, I adapt and refine theories and methods from Science & Technology Studies and interdisciplinary studies of sensoriums and bodily pedagogies; I then use this case study into the micropractices of work and cultural production to suggest new approaches to the study of tradition, nationalism and music in Turkey. This book is one of the first ethnographies on studio musicianship or film/TV music production, and the first extensive account of the emergence of a transnational market for music in Anatolian minority languages (e.g. Kurdish, Armenian, Lazuri).

Other activities

I am the Editor-in-Chief of Ethnomusicology Source, a collaborative bibliography project of the Society for Ethnomusicology. I have also served the society with terms on the Council (2007-2010, 2012-2015) and on the Merriam Book Prize Committee (2010, 2011). In 2008, Graham St John and I co-founded the online, open-access journal Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture; I was the managing editor from 2008-2010 and currently serve on the advisory board.



  • (2013) Digital Tradition: Arranging and Engineering Traditional Music in Turkey. In review, Oxford University Press.
  • 2010 Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Global Music Series. Oxford University Press.

Journal articles and book chapters


  • 2012 Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia, ed. by Anne Rasmussen and David Harnish. Indonesia 95.
  • 2012 Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music, by Martin Stokes. the world of music 53(1).
  • 2011 Recorded Music: Performance, Culture and Technology, ed. by Amanda Bayley. Notes 68(2).
  • 2010 The World Map of Music: The Edison Phonograph and the Musical Cartography of the Earth. Berlin Phonogram Archive. Ethnomusicology 54(3).
  • 2005 You Better Work! by Kai Fikentscher. Ethnomusicology 49(2).

Reference works

*Below is an extract of the most recent (from 2008 to today) conference presentations, invited lectures, recordings, and album credits. For a full list see www.eliotbates.com 

Panels chaired

  • 2012 "Instrumental Agency and Invention: Musical Instruments in Modern Anatolia. Society for Ethnomusicology/American Musicological Association joint meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  • 2010 “Landscapes, Soundscapes and Depictions of Place in Asian Film Music,” Society for Ethnomusicology 55th Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA.

Conference presentations

  • 2012 "Indirect Users and Digital Audio Technologies". 4S/EASST annual conference, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • 2012 "The Crying Saz: A Meditation on Instrument Agency." Society for Ethnomusicology/American Musicological Association joint meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  • 2012 "Laz Digital: The Vital Materiality and Political Valence of Acoustic Instruments and Instrumentality in Digital Recording Environments." American Anthropological Association 111st Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2011 “Denk and Renk: The (Digital) Aesthetics of Balance and Color in Contemporary Arranged Anatolian Folk Music.” American Anthropological Association 110th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada.
  • 2011 “What Studios Do.” Art of Record Production 7th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2010 “Affect and Landscape in the Film Music and Film Sound of 21st Century Turkish Cinema.” Society for Ethnomusicology 55th Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 2009 “Social Collaborations and Meaning Production in Turkish-Speaking Publics.” American Anthropological Association 108th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
  • 2009 “Technologies of Spirituality, Hi-tech-sponsored Communalism, and the Dialectics of Northern California's Electronic Dance Music Microcultures.” Middle Atlantic Chapter, Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Richmond, VA.
  • 2008 “Ron's Right Arm: Tactility, Visualization, and the Synesthesia of Audio Engineering.” Art of Record Production 4th Annual Conference, Lowell, MA.
  • 2008 “Folkloric Resources and the Legitimation of Innovative Arranged Recordings in Turkey.” Society for Ethnomusicology 53rd Annual Conference, Middletown, CT.
  • 2008 “Comfort and Tea: Institutional Culture and Aesthetic Decision-Making in the Turkish Recording Industry.” Northern California Chapter, Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Fremont, CA. Winner of Marnie Dilling Prize for best student paper.

Invited lectures

  • 2012 Eastman Musicology Colloquium: “Engineering Turkish Music: Latency, Auditory Images, and Sensoriums of the Studio”
  • 2012 Cornell Society for the Humanities Fellows Workshop:“The Glitch and Philosophy: Reconsidering the Rhizome in Glitch Music”
  • 2011 Harvard University Mahindra Humanities Center Seminar: “Sensoriums of the Recording Studio: Engineer, Arranger, Studio Musician”
  • 2011 Cornell Anthropology Department, Technology for Research Workshop: Keynote
  • 2011 Boston University: “The ‘ud in Turkey”
  • 2010 University of Pittsburgh: “What is a Halay Dance? The Collaborative Production of Meanings on Turkish Social Networking Sites”
  • 2010 Brown University: "Ron’s Right Arm: Synesthesias, Sensoriums, and the Experience of Recording Studio Work"
  • 2008 UC Berkeley: Graduate Student Commencement Speech
  • 2008 UC Davis: “Field Research Methodologies for Ethnomusicology”

Recordings (oud, percussion, singing, and composition)

  • 2011 Current 93. HoneySuckle Æons (oud, percussion, arrangement)
  • 2011 Kaderci. Gnomonic Devices (composer, producer, oud, percussion)
  • 2010 Current 93. Baalstorm, Sing Omega (oud, percussion, arrangement)
  • 2008 Kaderci. Mapping Cartographic Abstractions (composer, producer, oud)

Album credits (audio engineering)

  • 2011 Ayşenur Kolivar. Bahçeye Hanımeli, Kalan Müzik. (mastering)
  • 2010 Warheads. Re-in-fusion, Radical House. (recording, editing)
  • 2009 Brenna MacCrimmon. Kulak Misafiri, Kalan Müzik/Green Goat. (recording)
  • 2009 The Something Experience. A Deeper Depth of Shallow, Mr Freeze. (mastering)
  • 2008 Fatih Yaşar. Kıyıların Ardı, Kalan Müzik. (recording, mastering)
  • 2008 Ulaş Özdemir. Bu Dem, Kalan Müzik. (recording, mixing, mastering)