Dr Laudan Nooshin, Reader in the Department of Music, has been awarded the 2016 British Forum for Ethnomusicology (BFE) Book Prize for her monograph, Iranian Classical Music: The Discourse and Practice of Creativity (Ashgate, 2015). This prestigious prize is awarded every two years in recognition of outstanding scholarship in the field of ethnomusicology – the study of music in cultural contexts.
Iranian Classical Music is a study of musical creativity. It explores the ways in which musicians and others in Iran talk about creativity and the processes by which new music comes into being. As well as seeking to understand the relationship between discourse and practice, this is the first book to examine how ideas about tradition, authenticity, innovation and modernity form part of wider social discourses on musical creativity in Iranian music, most notably in relation to debates on national and cultural identity.
Dr Nooshin (above right) said: “I’m honoured and delighted to receive this award. The research for the book started almost 30 years ago so it has been a very long journey – and this is such a nice way for my part of the journey to end. The book will hopefully continue its own journey as it is read by others! Of course, I have many people to thank, including the amazing musicians without whom the book wouldn’t have been possible, the publishing team at Ashgate, my wonderful colleagues, peers and senior scholars for their support and encouragement, and above all my family.”
Dr Amanda Villepastour from Cardiff University (above left) also received a commendation for her book The Yorùbá God of Drumming: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Wood that Talks.
The BFE prize committee said Dr Nooshin’s book was a unanimous choice for the award, which carries a £100 prize. The BFE said: “Iranian Classical Music is the product of a long journey from PhD to recent research, revisited in the light of post-colonial theory, and interrogates many aspects of theory through the lens of the study of musicians and their practices. It aims to understand musical creativity as meaningful social practice, to find an approach through Iranian creative practice that overcomes the composition/improvisation dualism and undoes the logic of alterity.
“As well as the detailed engagement and analysis of Iranian music, this monograph is located within a theoretical discourse that includes issues relevant to all ethnomusicological research, including a critique of binaries (ethno/musicology, West/East, folk/art, us/them, individual/collective), connections between musical and linguistic cognitive processes, music/linguistic grammars, the motor/body creative impetus, and defining terminology when moving between languages. “The structure of the book is clear and logical and the notational examples are fully supported with an included CD. The writing style is very clear, dealing with complex issues and explaining them, showing great awareness of issues of language and communication with a wide readership.”
Dr Nooshin recently published two book chapters relating to her ongoing research on Iranian popular music and culture. The chapters are: Jazz and its Social Meanings in Iran: From Cultural Colonialism to the Universal, in the book Jazz Worlds/World Jazz; and Discourses of Religiosity in Post-1998 Iranian Popular Music, in Islam and Popular Culture.