Professor John Baily

Staff details

Position Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology
Department Music
Email j.baily (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7658
Professor John Baily

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.

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").

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

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.. 2009. The Art of the ‘Fieldwork Movie’: 35 Years of Making Ethnomusicological Films. Ethnomusicology Forum, 18(1), pp. 55-64. ISSN 1741-1912

Baily, John S.. 2009. Crossing the Boundary: From Experimental Psychology to Ethnomusicology. Empirical Musicology Review, 4(2), pp. 82-88. ISSN 1559-5749

Baily, John S.. 2005. So Near, So Far: Kabul's Music in Exile. Ethnomusicology Forum, 14(2), pp. 213-233. ISSN 17411912

Book Section

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.. 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.. 2010. The Circulation of Music Between Afghanistan and the Afghan Diaspora. In: Angela Schlenkhoff and Ceri Oeppen, eds. Beyond the 'Wild Tribes': Understanding Modern Afghanistan and Its Diaspora. London: Hurst & Co., pp. 157-171. ISBN 9781849040556

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

Baily, John S.. 2009. Music and censorship in Afghanistan, 1973-2003. In: Laudan Nooshin, ed. Music and the Play of Power: Music, Politics and Ideology in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 143-163. ISBN 9780754634577

Baily, John S.. 2009. Rebuilding Kabul’s art music culture in the post-Taliban era. In: Michael Schramm, ed. Musik in Fremdwahrnehmung. Bonn: Militärmusikdienst der Bundeswehr, pp. 125-136. ISBN 9783000282089

Baily, John S.. 2008. Ethnomusicology, Intermusability, and Performance Practice. In: Henry Stobart, ed. The New (Ethno)musicologies. Chicago: Scarecrow Press, pp. 117-134.

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.

Baily, John S.. 2003. A Kabul Music Diary.