Medical Ethnomusicology: Wherein Lies Its Potential?


  • Amanda Elaine Daly Berman Boston University



medical ethnomusicology, ethnomusicology, anthropology, collaboration, music therapy, Boston


The connection between music and healing has been both present and perceived for centuries, as evidenced in such famous comments as Congreve’s remark that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak” (The Healing Music Organization 2011).  While music therapy, medicine, and medical anthropology all examine the interplay of music and healing, medical ethnomusicology, an academic field that studies this symbiotic relationship from a cultural standpoint, has only recently been developed.  Further, while music’s power to heal plays an increasing role in Western medicine/biomedicine, the term medical ethnomusicology seems to mostly be reserved for non-Western studies, with Michael Bakan’s (2009) work on autism being the most notable exception.  In this paper, medical ethnomusicology’s relevance within the greater field of ethnomusicology is considered.  Methodological approaches of the fields in question will be addressed, with the intent of showing how medical ethnomusicology can and should be applied to Western concepts and practices of music and healing.  




How to Cite

Daly Berman, A. E. (2015). Medical Ethnomusicology: Wherein Lies Its Potential?. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 15(3).