Professor Barley Norton BSc (Mus), MMus, PhD

Barley is an ethnomusicologist and filmmaker with research interests in the music and culture of Southeast Asia.

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Professor Barley Norton BSc (Mus), MMus, PhD


Professor of Music



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Professor Barley Norton is an ethnomusicologist and filmmaker with research interests in the music and culture of Southeast Asia. He is the director of Goldsmiths’ Asian Music Unit (AsMU), the convenor of the MA in Music (Ethnomusicology), and the leader of the Goldsmiths Gamelan Group. He has conducted extensive field research in Vietnam and his publications include a monograph on ritual music and spirit possession titled Songs for the Spirits: Music and Mediums in Modern Vietnam (University of Illinois Press, 2009).

As part of a Getty-funded research project on contemporary experimental performance culture in Vietnam, he made the critically acclaimed film Hanoi Eclipse: The Music of Dai Lam Linh (Documentary Educational Resources, 56 minutes, 2010). He is also co-editor of two books: Music and Protest in 1968 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which examines how music was integral to the profound cultural and political change that swept the globe around 1968; and Music as Heritage: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives (Routledge, 2018). Barley is a member of the REF 2021 Sub-panel 33: Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies (2018-21) and he served as Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology from 2015 to 2018.

Areas of supervision

  • Christopher Hanby: Applied Ethnomusicology and the Revitalisation of the Endangered Language of Jèrriais: A study of music, language ideology, and cultural identity in Jersey (Research funded by a CHASE studentship]
  • Lin Lin: Creative Realization in the Compositional Process: Exploring Hulusi Embellishing Techniques in Contemporary Flute Music
  • Clare Salaman: Reimagining an exotic instrument of the past in a contemporary context: The trumpet marine restored (Research funded by a CHASE Studentship)
  • Jasmine Hornabrook: Transnational networks, musical learning and performance in London's Tamil diaspora (Research funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award)

Grants & awards

Barley Norton’s research has been funded by grants and scholarships from the Getty Foundation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, and ASEASUK (Association for Southeast Asian Studies in the UK). In recent years, he has worked on applied international projects concerning the revival of Vietnamese music and audiovisual archiving.

This has included consultancy work on music heritage projects with the British Council, UNESCO, the Vietnam Musicology Institute, and the Vietnamese Institute for Culture and Art Studies. His co-edited volume Music and Protest in 1968 won the American Musicology Society’s 2014 Ruth A. Solie Award. His film “Hanoi Eclipse: The Music of Dai Lam Linh” was awarded a "Commendation - Intangible Culture Film Prize" at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s 12th International Festival of Ethnographic Film.

Journalism, radio and television

  • Writer for the world music magazine Songlines, including feature articles and CD reviews
  • Consultant, interviewee and interviewer for several BBC radio programmes including the two-part radio documentary “Vietnam’s Rock ’n’ Roll War”
  • Featured guest on several national Vietnamese Television (VTV) shows and documentaries, including a televised debate organised by the British Council on the theme of “Urban Beats” (“Dap Nhip Do Thi”) and the documentary “A Westerner Loves Our Music” (“Nguoi Tay Me Nhac Ta”)

Publications and research outputs


Norton, Barley. 2009. Songs for the Spirits: Music and Mediums in Modern Vietnam. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252033995

Edited Book

Norton, Barley and Matsumoto, Naomi, eds. 2019. Music as Heritage: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138228047

Kutschke, Beate and Norton, Barley, eds. 2013. Music and Protest in 1968. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107007321

Edited Journal

Norton, Barley; Sendra, Estrella and Jackson, Joseph, eds. 2022. 'Musicology on Screen' Special Issue, Screenworks, 12(2). 2514-3123

Harris, Rachel and Norton, Barley, eds. 2002. Red Ritual: Ritual Music and Communism, British Journal of Ethnomusicology, . 0968-1221

Book Section

Norton, Barley. 2024. Intimacy in Ethnographic Film: Listening to How to Improve the World by Nguyễn Trinh Thi. In: Stephen Cottrell; Dafni Tragaki and Stephen Wilford, eds. Ethnomusicology and its Intimacies. New York: Routledge, pp. 148-162. ISBN 9781032431314

Norton, Barley. 2021. Ethnomusicology and Filmmaking. In: Stephen Cottrell, ed. Music, Dance, Anthropology. Hertfordshire: Sean Kingston Publishing, pp. 121-143. ISBN 978-1-912385-31-7

Norton, Barley. 2020. "Sự Truyền Tải Bằng Hình Thức Nghe Nhìn Của Di Sản Văn Hoá Trong Xã Hội Đương Đại" [“The Audiovisual Mediation of Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Society”]. In: Lâm Đoàn Trần, ed. Bảo Vệ Và Phát Huy Giá Trị Nghệ Thuật Xoè Thái Trong Xã Hội Đương Đại [“Safeguarding and Promoting of the Art of Xòe Dance of the Tai People in Contemporary Society"]. Hanoi: Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, pp. 534-549. ISBN 9786047786602


Norton, Barley. 2020. Mê Thảo Thời Vang Bóng (The Glorious Time in Mê Thảo Hamlet). 2002. Directed by Việt Linh, 108 minutes. Vietnam: Hãng Phim Giải Phóng (Liberation Film Company). [Film Review]. Yearbook for Traditional Music, 52, pp. 241-245. ISSN 0740-1558

Norton, Barley. 2020. Review of the CD 'Hoạ Âm Xưa' by Saigon Soul Revival, Saigon Supersound. Songlines: The World Music Magazine, 156, p. 62.

Norton, Barley. 2019. Review of the CD 'Streams' by Nguyên Lê Quartet, ACT. Songlines: The World Music Magazine(147), p. 65. ISSN 2059-6782


Norton, Barley. 2015. Ca Trù Singing in Vietnam: Revival and Innovation.

Norton, Barley. 2005. Website on Vietnamese Ca Tru.


Norton, Barley. 2020. Make a Silence - Musical Dialogues in Asia, Journal of Anthropological Films Vol 4, No 2 (2020)..

Norton, Barley. 2020. Story 1 - The Sound of Gongs in Mơ H'ra Village - Gong Ensemble.

Norton, Barley. 2020. Story 1 – The Sound of Gongs in Mơ H’ra Village - Đinh H’mưnh Song.

Printed Ephemera

Norton, Barley. 2014. Exhibition catalogue text for the installation - "Homelands: Working the Rice, Working the Forest" by the Landscape Quartet featuring Nguyen Thanh Thuy..

Professional Activity

Norton, Barley. 2021. Member of the REF 2021 Sub-panel 33 (2018-2021).

Norton, Barley. 2020. Member of the Society for Ethnomusicology Council (Elected for 3-year Term, 2017-2020).

Norton, Barley. 2018. Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (2015-2018).


Norton, Barley and Hoang, Van Chung. 2020. Heritage of Future Past - Story Collection. Project Report. British Council, Vietnam.


Norton, Barley. 2001. Ca tru: the music of north Vietnam. Nimbus Records NI5626, Wyastone.

Research Interests

Dr Barley Norton’s research interests include ethnomusicological filmmaking and theory, the cultural politics of musical practice, discourse on cultural heritage and music revival, music and religious experience, music and emotion, music and gender theory, music censorship, improvisation, performance and modal theory. His academic research is informed by practice. During field research in Vietnam he learnt to play two Vietnamese lutes: the dan day and dan nguyet. He also plays Sundanese music from Indonesia on the kacapi zither and the gamelan degung orchestra.

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