Professor John Baily

John’s principal research interests are ethnomusicology, in performance and film, and music’s relation to migration.

Staff details

Professor John Baily


Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology




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John Baily came into ethnomusicology from experimental psychology, with a doctorate on human spatial coordination and motor control from the University of Sussex. In 1973 he became a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology, Queen's University of Belfast, and in collaboration with John Blacking conducted two years of ethnomusicological fieldwork in Afghanistan. In 1978 he was appointed Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Queen's. From 1984-86 he trained in anthropological film making at the National Film and Television School, and directed the award-winning film Amir: An Afghan refugee musician's life in Peshawar, Pakistan. From 1988-1990 he was Associate Professor in the Centre for Ethnomusicology, Columbia University, New York. He joined Goldsmiths in 1990, and is now Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit.

Publications and research outputs


Baily, John S.. 2011. Songs from Kabul: The Spiritual Music of Ustad Amir Mohammad. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-5776-7

Baily, John S.. 2010. Mosiqi Afghanistan wa Honarmandan Herfawai shaehre Herat. Kabul: Ministry of Information and Culture.

Baily, John S.. 2001. Can You Stop the Birds Singing? The Censorship of Music in Afghanistan. Copenhagen: Freemuse. ISBN 0004707729


Baily, John S.. 2010. Afghan Music in Australia. Migracoes: Journal of the Portuguese Immigration Observatory, 7, pp. 157-176. ISSN 1646-8104

Baily, John S.. 2010. Two Different Worlds: Afghan Music for Afghanistanis and Kharejis. Ethnomusicology Forum, 19(1), pp. 69-88. ISSN 1741-1912

Baily, John S.. 2010. Tools of the Trade: The Afghan Rubab. Songlines, 71, pp. 43-46.

Book Section

Baily, John S.. 2011. Music, migration and war: the BBC’s interactive music broadcasting to Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora. In: Jason Toynbee and Byron Dueck, eds. Migrating Music. London: Routledge, pp. 180-194. ISBN 978-0-415-59448-6

Baily, John S.. 2011. "Music is in Our Blood": Gujarati Muslim Musicians in the UK. In: Lucy Green, ed. Learning, Teaching, and Musical Identity: Voices across Cultures. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 109-127. ISBN 978-0-253-22293-0

Baily, John S.. 2010. Modi operandi in the making of 'world music' recordings. In: Amanda Bayley, ed. Recorded Music: Society, Technology and Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 107-124. ISBN 9780521863094

Conference or Workshop Item

Baily, John S.. 2007. 'The circulation of ‘New Music’ between Afghanistan and its transnational community'. In: Conference on Music in the world of Islam. Assilah, Morocco 8-13 August 2007.


Baily, John S.. 2011. Across the Border: Afghan musicians exiled in Peshawar.

Baily, John S.. 2008. Ustad Rahim. Heart’s Rubab Maestro.

Baily, John S.. 2007. Scenes of Afghan Music: London, Kabul, Hamburg, Dublin.

Research Interests

Baily's principal research interests are: cognitive ethnomusicology, performance, ethnomusicological film, and music & migration. Now approaching retirement from teaching and administrative duties, he plans to devote the next few years to his Afghan work, for the first two years with a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.

Three of his research students graduated recently, with theses on tombak drumming in Tehran, Iranian contemporary art music, and the Pontic lyra. Two students still to complete are John Dodson (Theories of Dance: The work of Blacking, Quirey and cognate theories and their potential applications) and Argyro Pavlopoulou (Cretan music: Deviations from the "tradition").