Towards practice research in ethnomusicology

Simon McKerrell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


This paper argues for ethnomusicologists to begin using performance not just as a tool to understand the social and cultural field, but to use music and dance as methods in ‘translational’ ethnomusicology that focuses upon the translation and communication of artistic performance aesthetics and to theorise a space for research outcomes that are sited in original performative knowledge, explored, produced and delivered through performance itself. The paper briefly surveys some of the key historical discussions of musical performance in/as research and the epistemological challenges that surround a methodologically defined field such as ethnomusicology where there is no central musical canon. The paper introduces the concept of ‘emic resistance’ where the researcher–performer resists translating their non-verbal, somatic aesthetic musical knowledge into text. The paper concludes by drawing on some of the most recent developments in both ethnomusicological and closely related performance-analytical scholarship to propose a translational model for practice research in ethnomusicology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-27
Number of pages18
JournalEthnomusicology Forum
Issue number1
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • ethnomusicology
  • practice research
  • artistic research
  • Scotland
  • bagpipes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Music


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