Eliot Bates

Eliot Bates Professor
  • Associate Professor and Head of Ethnomusicology, Music

Research Interests

  • Audio technologies
  • modular synthesis
  • critical organology
  • science and technology studies
  • recording studios
  • the music of Turkey


  • Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Berkeley

Eliot Bates is an ethnographer researching the interface between people and sound/music technologies—including their design, materiality, instrumentality, and cultural milieus. An ethnomusicologist by training (Ph.D., UC Berkeley), from 2004-2016 they researched these within Istanbul’s recording studios, instrument-building factories and music industries. Since 2013, their work has geographically broadened to consider European and North American gear cultures, particularly those formed around recording studio technologies and modular synthesizers.

Committed to social science and ethnographic methods, Eliot also incorporates an experimental practice-led research design, whether that entails their ongoing studio-sited audio engineering work, collaborative recordings featuring the oud, Eurorack performances for the New York Modular Society, or microtonal, makam-based electronic music productions as the artist Makamqore and as half of the duo Manifestoon Platoon. They have contributed, as either performer, composer, or recordist/engineer, to more than 80 albums produced in the US, UK, Turkey and Italy, as well as several TV series and feature films.

Eliot has authored two books: Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture (OUP, 2016), and Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (OUP, 2011), and with Samantha Bennett coedited Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound (Bloomsbury, 2018). Currently, Eliot and Samantha are co-authoring a substantial book entitled Gear: Cultures of Audio Technologies which is under contract with MIT Press. Before joining the faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center, Eliot taught at the University of Birmingham (UK), at Cornell University (as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow and adjunct fellow of the Society for the Humanities), and at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Eliot has a long history of academic service: with the Society for Ethnomusicology (as Treasurer, Council Secretary, and on the Editorial Board of the journal Ethnomusicology), the Society for Asian Music (as Vice-President and website editor), and as the co-founder and first Managing Editor of the open-access journal Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture.


  • Bates, Eliot, and Samantha Bennett. 2022. “Look at all those big knobs! Online audio technology discourse and sexy gear fetishes.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2022. “Feeling Analog: Using Modular Synthesizers, Designing Synthesis Communities.” In Shaping Sound and Society: The Cultural Study of Musical Instruments, ed. Stephen Cottrell. London: Routledge
  • Bates, Eliot. 2021. “The Interface and Instrumentality of Eurorack Modular Synthesis.” In Rethinking Music through Science and Technology Studies, edited by Christophe Levaux and Antoine Hennion. London: Routledge.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2020. “Recording Studios Since 1970.” In The Bloomsbury Handbook of Music Production, edited by Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Andrew Bourbon, 125–39. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2020. “Resource Ecologies, Political Economies and the Ethics of Audio Technologies in the Anthropocene.” Popular Music 39 (1): 66–87.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2020. “Agency in Contemporary Recording Production.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Creative Process in Music, ed. Nicolas Donin. Oxford University Press.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2019. “Vinyl as Event: Record Store Day and Value-Vibrant Matter Nexus.” Journal of Cultural Economy 13 (6): 690–708.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2016. Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture. Oxford University Press.
  • Bates, Eliot. 2012. “The Social Life of Musical Instruments.” Ethnomusicology 56 (3): 363–95.

Professional Affiliations and Leadership

  • Advisory Board Member, Yedi: Journal of Art, Design and Science (Turkey) (2020-present), Porte Akademik Müzik ve Dans Araştırmaları Dergisi (Turkey) (2022-present)
  • Vice President, Society for Asian Music (2017-2021)
  • Treasurer and Board of Directors Member, Society for Ethnomusicology (2014-2016)
  • Editorial Board Member, Ethnomusicology journal (2013-2017)
  • Founding Managing Editor, Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture (2008-2010)


  • Australian National University, Research School of the Humanities and Arts Visiting Scholars program (2018)
  • Yale University, Stanley T. Woodward Lectureship (2014)
  • Society for Ethnomusicology, Bruno Nettl Prize for article “The Social Life of Musical Instruments” (2013)

Courses Taught

  • The Social Life of Music Technologies
  • Music of the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Sound and Society
  • Field Methods in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies
  • Teaching Proseminar
  • Introduction to Ethnomusicology
  • Music in/on the Internet
  • Seminar in Dissertation and Proposal Writing in (Ethno)musicology
  • Cultural Geographies of Music

Recent Multimedia Work