Sound Matters: The SEM Blog

The official blog by the Society for Ethnomusicology

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SEM Blog: new mission statement


Sound Matters ( is a blog about making ethnomusicological research and debates accessible to and engaged with the wider public.  Sponsored by the Society for Ethnomusicology, the blog is a peer-reviewed digital publication that emphasizes collaboration and new ways of doing ethnomusicology. Sound Matters provides a platform for young, independent and tenured scholars, inclusive of those working inside and outside academic institutions, to challenge the status quo in the field of ethnomusicology and colonial forms of knowledge production.

The blog welcomes and encourages media-rich contributions (sound, video, photos) as a way to provoke new research questions and generate a broader interest in ethnomusicology scholarship and teaching.

Sound Matters was launched in 2014 by the inaugural Editor-in-Chief Jim Cowdery (RILM). The current Editor-in-Chief is Eliot Bates (The Graduate Center, CUNY).


Directions to Contributors

Sound Matters seeks blog posts on a variety of topics including but not limited to opinion pieces, theoretical/methodological perspectives, ethnographic findings, area-focused essays, the teaching of ethnomusicology, and public-sector ethnomusicology. Posts should be accessible to the general public.

Posts should not exceed 1200 words and contributors are encouraged to include photos, videos and/or audio clips. Posts should be submitted to the editorial team:

  • text as .doc or .docx
  • a succinct title for your post
  • a list of 3-5 suggested tags/keywords
  • a one sentence bio and photo, followed by (optional) links to one or more online profiles (e.g., researchgate, github, personal blog or website, soundcloud, twitter)
  • photos or images for which you control the rights and that are not currently hosted online can be emailed directly to us (.jpg or .png formats accepted). For 3rd-party hosted images, videos and sound, please provide a separate .doc file with the links and the desired captions (please note: we can not publish multimedia that you do not have permissions for, unless you are linking to already-hosted material hosted on a 3rd-party site that adheres to DMCA policies, such as YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud).

Language: Sound Matters endeavors to engage with ethnomusicological scholarship in languages other than English. For posts that are not in English, we require a 250-word abstract in addition to the post, and the post will be reviewed and edited by a specialist in the particular language. At present, we can readily accommodate posts in Spanish, French, Arabic, Turkish, or German. Other languages may be possible; please contact us at for more info.

Bibliography: Sound Matters follows the conventions of the journal Ethnomusicology, and uses Chicago 17th author-date references. See here for more info.



Comments are highly encouraged, but moderated. We do not permit the following in comments:

  • Abuse and personal attacks
  • Advertising and self-promotion
  • Off-topic discussion


Editorial Board

The Sound Matters Editorial Advisory Board is tasked with broad issues such as establishing blog guidelines, and stands ready for consultation on any matters that the Editor deems beyond the realm of peer review. The Board is chaired by the Editor.

Current Editorial Advisory Board members:

  • Eliot Bates (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)
  • Farah Zahra (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)
  • Brian Bond (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Founding Editorial Advisory Board:

  • James Cowdery, Founding Editor-in-Chief (RILM)
  • Nilanjana Bhattacharjya (Arizona State University)
  • Rachel Colwell (University of California at Berkeley)
  • Sandra Graham (Babson College)
  • Frederick Moehn (King’s College London)



We are looking both for individual posts, as well as suggestions for curated “mini-issues” that include several blog posts exploring a particular topic. Please contact us at if you have a topic you’d like to propose!

-eliot, farah, and brian @soundmatters

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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.