Stephen Blum

Stephen Blum faculty photo

Research Interests

  • music of West and Central Asia
  • ethnomusicological analysis


  • Ph.D., Illinois

Stephen Blum joined the Graduate Center faculty in 1987, when the concentration in ethnomusicology was initiated. His coedited volume Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History (1993) explores the ways in which ethnomusicologists are contributing to the larger task of investigating music history. Music—Cultures in Contact: Convergences and Collisions (1994)which he coedited with Margaret J. Kartomi, examines how and why entire works, genres or concepts, and even musical instruments, can be rejected or suppressed when cultures or classes come in contact.

Blum has also published many articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles on general topics, such as composition, improvisation, music analysis, modern music history, and cultural exchange, as well as on the specific musical practices of Iran, Kurdistan, Central Asia, Europe, and North America. He has been active in the Society for Ethnomusicology and currently serves as consulting editor for music of the Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Representative Publications

  • "Remembering Warriors in Song,” in Musical Culture and Memory (Musicological Studies: Proceedings, no. 2), ed. Tatjana Marković and Vesna Mikić. Belgrade: Department of Musicology, Faculty of Music, University of Arts, 2008, pp. 273-280.
  • “Nav~’i, a Musical Genre of Northeastern Iran,” in Analytical Studies in World Music, ed. Michael Tenzer. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 41-57.
  • "Compelling Reasons to Sing: the Music of Ta‘ziye,” TDR /the journal of performance studies, no. 188 (2005)
  • “L’acte musicale: éléments d’analyse,” L’Homme, Revue FranHaise d'Anthropologie, no. 171-172 (2004), 231-347
  • “Kurtág’s Articulation of Kafka's Rhythms,” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, XLIII/3-4 (2002), 121-34.
  • "Hearing the Music of the Middle East," The Garland Encyclopedia of World MusicVI, The Middle East, ed. Virginia Danielson, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds. New York: Garland,  2002, 3-13.
  • "Iran: an Introduction," The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, VI, The Middle East, 823-38.
  • "Central Asia," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, ed.. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London and New York: Macmillan, 2001, V, 363-72.
  • "Composition," The New Grove, 2nd ed., 2001, VI, 186-201.
  • "Iran, III. Regional and Popular Traditions," The New Grove, 2nd ed., 2001, XII, 537-46.
  • "Kurdish Music" (with Dieter Christensen), The New Grove, 2nd ed., 2001, XIV, 36-41.
  • "Sources, Scholarship and Historiography," The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, III, The United States and Canada, ed. Ellen Koskoff. New York: Garland, 2001, 21-37.
  • "Local Knowledge of Musical Genres and Roles," The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, VIII, Europe, ed. James Porter and Timothy F. Rice. New York: Garland, 2000, 112-26.
  • "Recognizing Improvisation," in In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation, ed. Bruno Nettl with Melinda Russell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, 27-45.
  • "'The Morning of Freedom Rose Up': Kurdish Popular Song and the Exigencies of Cultural Survival" (with Amir Hassanpour), Popular Music XV/3 (1996), 325-43.
  • "Musical Questions and Answers in Iranian Xor s n," EM: Annuario degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia IV (1996), 145-63.
  • Music-Cultures in Contact: Convergences and Collisions, ed. Margaret J. Kartomi and Stephen Blum. Sydney: Currency Press (Australian Studies in the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Music 2) and Basel: Gordon & Breach (Musicology: A Book Series 16), 1994 (includes "Conclusion: Music in an Age of Cultural Confrontation," 250-77)
  • "In Defense of Close Reading and Close Listening." Symposium on "Approaches to the Discipline," Current Musicology, no. 53 (1993), 41-54.
  • "Analysis of Musical Style," in Ethnomusicology: an Introduction, ed. Helen Myers. New York: Norton and London: Macmillan, 1992 (Norton/Grove Handbooks in Music), pp. 165-218.
  • Ethnomusicology and Modern Music History (coedited with Philip V. Bohlman, and Daniel M. Neuman) Urbana: University  of Illinois Press, 1991 (includes "Prologue: Ethnomusicologists and Modern Music History," 1-20).
  • "Changing Roles of Performers in Meshhed and Bojnurd, Iran," in Eight Urban Musical Cultures, ed. Bruno Nettl. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978, pp. 19-95.
  • "European Musical Terminology and the Music of Africa," in Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music: Essays in the History of, ed. Bruno Nettl and Philip V. Bohlman. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 1-36.
  • Commentary for Symposium, "The Representation of Musical Practice and the Practice of Representation," Ethnomusicology XXXIV (1990), 413-21.
  • "Music History," in International Encyclopedia of Communications, ed. Erik Barnouw.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, III, 104-11.
  • "On the Disciplines and Arts of Music," The World of Music XXIX/1 (1987), 19-32.
  • "The Fuging Tune in British North America," in Sing Out the Glad News: Hymn Tunes in Canada. Proceedings of the Conference held in Toronto February 7 and 8, 1986, ed. John Beckwith. Toronto: Institute for Canadian Music, 1987, pp. 119-48.
  • "Ethnomusicologists vis-à-vis the Fallacies of Contemporary Musical Life," Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology III (1986), 1-19 (responses by 11 scholars, 20-41).
  • Communication on Schubert's Circles of Thirds, Journal of the American Musicological Society XXXIX (1986), 210-15.
  • "Rousseau's Concept of Sistême musical and the Comparative Study of Tonalities in Nineteenth-Century France," Journal of the American Musicological Society XXXVIII (1985), 349-61.
  • "Rural and Urban Interchange in the Music of Northeastern Iran," in International Musicological Society, Report of the Twelfth Congress, Berkeley 1977, ed. Daniel Heartz and Bonnie C. Wade.  Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1981, pp. 608-11 (discussion, pp. 617-19).
  • "Central Asia, Western," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie.  London: Macmillan, 1980, IV, 67-75.
  • "Iran, Folk Music," in The New Grove Dictionary, IX, 300-09.
  • "Ives's Position in Social and Musical History," The Musical Quarterly, LXIII (1977), 459-82.
  • "An Ethnomusicologist's Reflections on 'Complexity' and 'Participation' in Music," College Music Symposium XVII/2 (1977), 25-41.
  • "Towards a Social History of Musicological Technique," Ethnomusicology XIX (1975), 207-31.
  • "Persian Folksong in Meshhed (Iran), 1969," Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council VI (1974), 86-114.
  • "The Concept of the 'Asheq in Northern Khorasan," Asian Music IV/1 (1972), 27-47.