Eliot Bates

Eliot Bates Professor
  • Associate Professor, 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, an ethnomusicologist by training, has contributed new approaches to the study of music’s instruments, materialities, technologies, infrastructures, and production workflows. From 2004 to 2016, he researched these within Istanbul’s recording studios, luthieries, and music industry; since 2013, his work has broadened geographically to consider European, North American, and Australian audio technology gear cultures.
Committed to social science and ethnographic methods, Bates incorporates an experimental practice-led research design, whether that entails his ongoing studio-based audio engineering work, collaborative recordings featuring the 11-stringed oud, or solo Eurorack performances for the New York Modular Society. Bates has served as either performer, composer, or audio engineer to more than 80 albums produced in the U.S., UK, and Turkey, as well as several TV series and feature films.
In addition to a robust body of journal articles and book chapters, Bates has published three books in his field. In 2018, with Samantha Bennett, he co-edited Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound (Bloomsbury Academic), a collection of essays on the intersections of music and technology from leading thinkers in music, audio engineering, anthropology, and media. Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture (Oxford University Press, 2016) offers an ethnography of contemporary studio music production in an effort to investigate the emerging milieu of Anatolian ethnic music, while Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Oxford University Press, 2011) draws on Bates’ extensive fieldwork to situate Turkey’s diverse musical sounds within their respective social contexts and political modernity.
Before joining The Graduate Center, Bates taught at the University of Birmingham (UK), Cornell University (as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow and adjunct fellow of the Society for the Humanities), and the University of Maryland, College Park.


  • 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. 2021. “Feeling Analog: Using Modular Synthesisers, Designing Synthesis Communities.” In Shaping Sound and Society: The Cultural Study of Musical Instruments, edited by Steven Cottrell. New York: 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. 2019. “Vinyl as Event: Record Store Day and Value-Vibrant Matter Nexus.” Journal of Cultural Economy, 1–19.
  • 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)
  • Vice President, Society for Asian Music (2017-2020)
  • Editorial Board Member, 21st Century Music Practice book series, Cambridge University Press (2019-present)
  • 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

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