"As a dialectical synthesis of anthropological and musicological modes of study, Ethnomusicology continues to expand and change along with the worlds of music that it depicts."

Brian Hogan, Ph.D.
UCLA Ethnomusicology Alumnus
Specializations in African Music, African American Music, Jazz, New Media, Percussion, and Disability Studies

Brian Hogan, Ph.D.

UCLA Ethnomusicology Alumnus

With a background in ethnomusicology, anthropology, percussion, and computer science, Brian Hogan fuses an aptitude for technology and design with a deep commitment to the theoretical projects of ethnomusicology and anthropology. Utilizing the many documentary and educational technologies that fall under the blanket category of new media, Brian Hogan has theorized the spiritual and culture-specific dimensions of ableism and disability in rural West Africa, while contributing to discourses on historical memory, speech surrogation, and global percussive practice.

In the U.S., he has conducted fieldwork with professional drummers on the east coast and west coast, framing the drum set as the locus of an extended ethnomusicological praxis, situated within an African American tradition of expressive culture. As a documentarian, he has released a short film shot in West Africa, developed an extensive web resource on Ghanaian Birifor musical culture, and is currently working on a full length documentary film on blind Birifor xylophonists.

What is Ethnomusicology?

Ethnomusicology as a dialectical synthesis of anthropological and musicological modes of study continues to expand and change along with the worlds of music that it depicts. Built upon foundational pillars of scholarship distributed across the world, the endeavors of ethnomusicologists have since the beginning been multifaceted, interdisciplinary, and tremendously variable, taking shape according to the particulars of musical cultures, and the values of researchers and disciplines.

Ethnomusicology can be defined as many things; the study of music as culture, the study of musical cultures through ethnography, the study of music culturally situated, the synchronic depiction of musical practice, the intercultural study of music from a comparative perspective, the study of music without aesthetic judgment, etc. The multiplicity of these definitions arises from the fact that ethnomusicology as a practice has been enacted by scholars, musicians, enthusiasts and specialists from many different disciplines, organizations, institutions, and countries, making ethnomusicology as culturally diverse as the music it describes.

As a discipline in European and American institutions, ethnomusicology understandably evolved out of national schools, as represented by the works of Euro-American pioneers who had to generate their own research paradigms for understanding the world’s musical cultures. In contrast, ethnomusicology in contemporary practice is diverse, spread across the world as before, but now drawn into global networks of influence, exchange, and perhaps most importantly, dialogue.

Ethnomusicology Publications & Projects

2015. “They Say We Exchanged Our Eyes for the Xylophone: Resisting Tropes of Disability as Spiritual Deviance in Birifor Music.” Forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies. Blake Howe, S. Jensen-Moulton, N. Lerner, and J. Straus, eds. New York: Oxford University Press.

2015. Forthcoming book review of A Feminist Ethnomusicology: Writings on Music and Gender by Ellen Koskoff. Journal of the International Alliance for Women in Music. New York, NY: Eugene Lang College.

2011. “Enemy Music: Blind Birifor Xylophonists of Northwest Ghana” Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA.

2010. Book Review of The Garland Handbook of African Music, 2nd edition edited by Ruth Stone and Focus: Music of South Africa by Carol Muller. African Arts. Vol. 43/Spring 2010. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

2008. “Gendered Modes of Resistance: Power and Women’s Songs in West Africa.” InThe Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 13/Winter 2008.

2008. “A Great Man Has Gone Out: The Funeral of Ghanaian Xylophonist Kakraba Lobi.” Independently produced and published short film. (http://www.lobimusic.org).

2006. “Ethnomusicology and the Drumset: Musical Experience as an Emergent Property of Performative Modalities” M.A. Thesis, UCLA.

2006. “Locating the Chopi Xylophone of Southern Mozambique” in The Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 11/Winter 2006.


Enemy Music

“Enemy Music: Blind Birifor Xylophonists of Northwest Ghana” Ph.D. Dissertation with New Media Companion, UCLA. 2011.

Gendered Modes of Resistance

“Gendered Modes of Resistance: Power and Women’s Songs in West Africa.” In The Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 13/Winter 2008.

Locating the Chopi Xylophone

“Locating the Chopi Xylophone of Southern Mozambique” In The Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology. Vol. 11/Winter 2006.

A Great Man Has Gone Out

"A Great Man Has Gone Out: The Funeral of Ghanaian Xylophonist Kakraba Lobi.” Independently produced and published short film.