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Meet our PhD supervisors: Dr John Morgan O'Connell

Music and ConflictMA Oxford University, AGSM Guildhall School of Music and Drama, MA and PhD University of California, Los Angeles (PhD dissertation topic: Vocal Performance in Turkish Classical Music)

Research Interests:

Music of the Middle East and Central Asia
Music of Europe and the European diaspora
Anthropology of Music
Critical Theory
Musical Aesthetics in a Cross-Cultural Perspective

John Morgan O’Connell is best known as a scholar of Turkish music during the early-Republican period (1923-1938). He is also known for his applied work in the area of music and conflict. His regional interests, however, encompass the musical traditions of the Middle East and Central Asia. He also has an established interest in the musical traditions of Europe and of European music in North America and Australasia, amongst others.

John Morgan is currently undertaking a comparative study of Turkic and Persian musics, focusing in particular on the relationship between music and context in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan, amongst other nation states. He is also completing a complementary study on the connection between music and nationhood in the region. In this matter, his work is interdisciplinary reaching across anthropology, ethnochoreology, geography, philosophy in addition to ethnomusicology.

Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music

John Morgan has just completed a monograph on the subject of style in Turkish music. With specific reference to the classical vocalist, Münir Nurettin Selçuk (1899-1981), he shows how vocal style was the subject of critical scrutiny during a major period of cultural change. He argues that vocal performance provided an important locus for exploring with ideological impunity new expressions of national identity at the dawn of the Turkish Republic (founded in 1923) and at the end of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922).

Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music is the first in-depth study of a musical artist during the early-Republican period. Bridging the divide between historical research and ethnographic inquiry, the monograph brings together archival sources and personal accounts of musical media and musical contexts. In particular, it examines the role of the recording industry in developing a new style of Turkish music, one in which an eastern style (alaturka) was presented in a western manner (alafranga) to bypass political censure and to accrue economic benefit.

Current book projects

Music and Nationhood in the Middle East
Musical Stages: Music and Context in the Persianate World

Selected research papers

O’Connell, John M. ‘A Staged Fright: Musical Hybridity and Religious Intolerance in Turkey (1923-38)’, twentieth-century music 7/1 (2011), 1-26
------.   ‘Music in War, Music for Peace; A Review Article’, Ethnomusicology, 55/1 (2011), 112-127
------.   ‘Alabanda: Brass Bands and Musical Methods in Ottoman Turkey’, in Federico Spinetti (ed.), Giuseppe Donizetti Pascià: Traiettorie musicali e storiche tra Italia e Turchia (Bergamo: Fondazione Donizetti, 2010), 19-37
------.   ‘The Mermaid of the Meyhane: The Legend of a Greek Singer in a Turkish Tavern’, in Linda Austern and Inna Naroditskaya (eds), Music and the Sirens (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 273-293

Dr O’Connell would be happy to consider applications from students considering postgraduate research in the following areas:

Musical Traditions of the Middle East and Central Asia
Musical Traditions of Europe and the European Diaspora
Musical Aesthetics in a Cross-Cultural Perspective
Critical Approaches to the Study of Ethnomusicology

Postgraduate funding:

Interested in pursuing postgraduate research at one of the largest and most diverse music schools in the UK? The School of Music is currently offering three competitive Studentships that cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate. More information on our funding opportunities is available at: