Music Lecturer’s book receives prestigious commendation

3 May 2016

Dr Amanda Villepastour and Laudan Nooshin
Dr Amanda Villepastour (left) and BFE Book Prize winner, Laudan Nooshin.

Lecturer and researcher in the School of Music, Dr Amanda Villepastour, received commendation in the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) Book Prize for her edited collection The Yorùbá God of Drumming: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Wood that Talks.

The BFE Book Prize receives international submissions bi-annually to recognise outstanding scholarship in ethnomusicology written in English. This year’s winner was Laudan Nooshin (Reader at City University) for her book Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity.

The Prize Committee’s commendation for Dr. Villepastour’s included high praise for her innovative approach, which apportions equal authority to academics and the priests and drummers who are routinely sidelined as informants in ethnographic publications in her field.

The Yorùbá god of drumming, known as Àyàn in Nigeria and Añá in Cuba, is one of the African deities called orishas and is variously described as the orisha of drumming, the spirit of the wood, or the more obscure Yorùbá praise name Aṣòrò Igi (Wood That Talks). Despite the growing volume of literature about global orisha religion and music, surprisingly little has been published about this ubiquitous Yorùbá music spirit. Dr. Villepastour’s book addresses this gap following twenty years of African and Cuban fieldwork.

The BFE commendation described Dr. Villepastour’s interdisciplinary collection as “multifaceted” and praised its “emphasis on collaboration”. It went on to say: “It shows meticulous attention to detail and is densely referenced, with a strong sense of passion for the subject. It supports writing from practitioners whose voices might otherwise not be heard, including them as the authors rather than informants, showing impressive editorial skill in making this a coherent book while retaining a diversity of experience and communication styles.”

Dr. Villepastour is also the author of Ancient Text Messages of the Yorùbá Bàtá Drum (Ashgate 2010), a linguistic study of speech surrogacy in drumming. She has also published on wider social aspects of Yorùbá religious music in Africa and the diaspora.

The Yorùbá God of Drumming is available to buy online.