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Dr Amanda Villepastour


Amanda Villepastour Position: Lecturer Email:
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 76226
Fax: +44(0)29 208 74379
Extension: 76226
Location: 33 Corbett Road (Annexe), Room 2.02

Dr Amanda Villepastour is a graduate of University of Western Australia (BMus, composition) and The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (MMus, PhD ethnomusicology) where she completed her PhD in 2006. Her research interests include the music of Africa and the African diaspora (with a focus on the Yorùbá), gender, organology and linguistics. Dr Villepastour’s recent monograph Ancient Text Messages of the Yorùbá Bata Drum: Cracking the Code (Ashgate 2010) is a study of the drum’s speech surrogacy system. Her book Wood that Talks: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Orisha of Drumming (University Press of Mississippi) is multi-disciplinary edited collection about a transatlantic religious drumming tradition.

Before coming to Cardiff, Dr Villepastour held appointments as curator for Africa and Latin America (The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix Arizona, 2009-2010), Ethnomusicology Instructor (Bowling Green State University, Ohio 2008-2009) and Course Convenor for The Graduate Diploma in Music Teaching to Adults (Goldsmiths College, University of London 2001-2008). After completing her PhD, Dr Villepastour was awarded two consecutive post-doctoral fellowships at The School of Oriental Studies, University of London and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC (2006-2008). Before her re-entry into academia, Dr Villepastour had a prestigious career as a keyboardist in the popular music industry, writing, recording and touring with British artists including Boy George, Billy Bragg and The Gang of Four.

Dr Villepastour currently co-teaches on the following courses and seminars: “Music in Human Life” (Year 1), “Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective” (Year 2) and “Project in Ethnomusicology” (Year 3). “The World of Music” (MA), and leads “Music and Discourse” (MA) and Methods in Ethnomusicology" (MA).



Wood that Talks: The Yoruba God of Drumming in Transatlantic Perspective (ed.) Jackson: University Press of Mississippi (forthcoming)

Ancient Text Messages of the Yorùbá Bàtá Drum: Cracking the Code. Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate, (2010)

Book Chapters, Journal Articles and Published Papers

“Talking Tones and Singing Speech.” In Jahrbuch 4 des Phonogrammarchivs (in press).

“Leading from the Inside: The Voice of Cuban Priestess Amelia Pedroso.” Book chapter in Women Singers in Global Contexts: Music, Biography and Identity. Ruth Hellier-Tinico (ed.) Bloomington & Indianapolis: University of Illinois Press. (2013)

“Fiddling in West Africa: Touching the Spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba Cultures” (review) in Notes - Volume 66, Number 2, December 2009, pp. 284-86

“Two Heads of the Same Drum?: Musical Narratives within a Transatlantic Religion” in Journal of Transatlantic Studies Vol. 7, No. 3, September 2009, 343-362.

Other Output

Entries on Yorùbá musical instruments in the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Oxford University Press.

Journalistic articles and reviews in Straight No Chaser (1999-2003) and Glendora Review (2003)


Amanda Villepastour has researched diverse comparative aspects of Yorùbá music in Nigeria and Cuba, including technical studies of drum language and melody setting, and Yoruba gesture and dance. She has also undertaken extensive transatlantic ethnographic and musicological research of orisha music and religion, employing interdisciplinary methods drawing from ethnomusicology, organology, linguistics, anthropology and religious studies. Beyond her specialized research of Yoruba music and religion, Amanda has wide interests in Africa where she has travelled extensively. She is currently researching maloya music in Réunion, and is also working towards publishing her experience in 1980s pop music.

Research Papers, Public Lectures and Performances

“Ethnography of a Sidewoman.” Department of Popular Culture Colloquium, Bowling Green State University, USA. Nov 2013.

“Ethnography of a Sidewoman.” Ethnomusicology Seminar, Oxford University. May 2013.

“Talking Tones and Singing Speech.” Bird Lecture, Cardiff University, Dec 2012.

'Giving voice to musical instruments in an African gallery.' Lunchtime lecture at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. May 2012

“Moving Song and Singing Moves in Transatlantic Yorùbá Music.” Conference paper, Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) annual meeting, Philadelphia, November, 2011

“Yorùbá Òrìsà Songs in Transatlantic Perspective.” Public lecture, Institute for African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. July 2011

“Video Production and Use at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), Phoenix: A Case History.” Conference paper, The British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) meeting, Falmouth. April 2011

“Anthropomorphizing Àyàn: Gender in Àyàn Initiation, Taboo and Possession.” Conference paper, The African Studies Association (ASA) annual meeting, San Francisco. November 2010

“Yorùbá Melodic Structure in Transatlantic Perspective.” Conference paper, Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) annual meeting, Los Angeles. November 2010

“When Vocables Become Language: Transatlantic Bata Vocables as Identity Markers.” Conference paper, Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) annual meeting, Mexico City. November 2009

“The Bata Drum in Transatlantic Perspective” Two public Lectures at Explorations in Afro-Cuban Dance and Drum, annual meeting, Humboldt State University, Humboldt. July 2009

“Playing with Power” Public lecture, Born to Drum, Women Drummers International, annual meeting, Petaluma, California. July 2009

“No Clause 28 and the Coming Out of Boy George.” Conference paper, The Pop Conference, The EMP Project, annual meeting, Seattle. April 2009

“Crossing the Divide: Bridging Ethnomusicology Theory and Mainstream Teacher Training.” Conference paper, Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME), annual meeting, Seattle. March 2008