Jeff Todd Titon

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Jeff Todd Titon (born 1943) is a professor emeritus of music at Brown University.[1] He holds a B.A. (1965) from Amherst College, an M.A. (in English, 1970) and a Ph.D. (in American Studies, 1971) from the University of Minnesota. He taught American literature, folklore and ethnomusicology in the departments of English and Music at Tufts University (1971-1986), where he co-founded the American Studies program and also the M.A. program in Ethnomusicology. He taught at Brown University (1986–2013) where he was director of the Ph.D. program in Ethnomusicology. He held visiting professorships at Amherst College, Carleton College, Berea College, East Tennessee State University and Indiana University's Folklore Institute. His published books include Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis (University of Illinois Press, 1977; 2nd edition, University of North Carolina Press, 1994), Powerhouse for God: Speech, Chant and Song in an Appalachian Baptist Church (University of Texas Press, 1988; 2nd ed. University of Tennessee Press, 2018), and Toward a Sound Ecology: New and Selected Essays (Indiana University Press, 2020). He is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press, 2015) and general editor of Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples (Cengage/Schirmer Books, 6th ed., 2016).[2] He was editor of Ethnomusicology, the journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, from 1990-1995. In 1998, he was elected a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, and in 2020, he received their Lifetime Scholarly Achievement Award.[3]

In 2015, his field recordings were chosen for preservation in the National Recording Registry, Library of Congress.[4] Titon is known for developing collaborative ethnographic research based on reciprocity and friendship,[5] for helping to establish an applied ethnomusicology based in social responsibility,[6] for proposing that music cultures can be understood as ecosystems,[7] for introducing the concepts of musical and cultural sustainability,[8] and for his appeal for a sound commons for all living creatures and his current ecomusicological project of a sound ecology.[9] His definition of ethnomusicology as "the study of people making music"—making the sounds they call music, and making music as a cultural domain—is widely accepted within the field.[10]


  1. ^ Sisario, Ben (February 28, 2004). "Revisionists Sing New Blues History". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  2. ^ Gregory F. Barz (2003). Performing religion: negotiating past and present in Kwaya music of Tanzania. Rodopi. p. 91. ISBN 9789042008274.
  3. ^ "The American Folklore Society". 8 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Significant Recording at the Library of Congress Originated by Chance Meeting at Berea College - Berea College". Berea College. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  5. ^ "Knowing Fieldwork," in Shadows in the Field, 2nd. ed., ed. Gregory Barz and Timothy Cooley. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  6. ^ "Music, the Public Interest, and the Practice of Ethnomusicology," Ethnomusicology 36 (3), 1992: 315-322.
  7. ^ Worlds of Music, p. 9. New York: Schirmer Books, 1984.
  8. ^ "Music and Sustainability: An Ecological Viewpoint," the world of music 51 (1), 2009: 119-137.
  9. ^ "Appeal for a Sound Commons for All Living Creatures," Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Fall/Winter 2012.
  10. ^ Worlds of Music, 2nd. ed., p. xxi. New York: Schirmer Books, 1992.

Relevant literature[edit]

  • Titon, Jeff Todd. 2020. Toward a Sound Ecology: New and Selected Essays. Indiana University Press. 324 pages. ISBN 978-0253049681 (hard cover).