A week on from a fantastic one-day event at City, University of London (and the brilliant day that preceded it). We’ll be sharing photos from the event here in the very near future, but in the meantime we’d like to thank a few people.

Firstly, all of our wonderful presenters who travelled from far and wide to share their research. So a big thank you to Dr Amina Boubia (SciencesPo Paris’ Centre for International Studies), Nathan Comer (Masåfåt Festival, London and Cairo), Sophia Frankford (University of Oxford), Amin Hashemi (SOAS, University of London), Sylvaine Leblond Martin (University of Rennes 2), Jiryis Murkus Ballan, Aghsan Khalilih and Abigail Wood (University of Haifa), Cristina Moreno Almeida (King’s College London), Omar Souhaili aka Dizzy DROS, and George Murer (City University of New York).

Thanks also to the people who chaired sessions throughout the day: Dr Rachel Harris, Sam Mackay, Gabrielle Messeder, and Professor Martin Stokes.

A big thank you to everyone at City who provided support, including Leo Chadburn, Callum Coupland and Louise Gordon.

And particular thanks to our wonderful student helper, Sarah Innes.

Finally, thank you to everyone who came as audience members throughout the day. We hope that you found the event interesting and inspiring.

Music, Media and Technologies Royal Musical Association Study Day – Durham University

This coming Saturday (20 May 2017) I will be presenting a paper at an RMA Study Day at Durham University. The event is entitled ‘Music, Media and Technologies’ and will feature a keynote from Dr Frederick Moehn of King’s College London. Full details of the event, including the abstract for my paper “This is just a band”: Music, Representation and Digital Technologies in the Middle East and North Africa, can be found via:

Stephen Wilford

Music, Technology and Digital Cultures in the MENA conference – City, University of London – Tuesday 23rd May 2017

It’s now only two weeks until our one-day conference at City, University of London. We are looking forward to welcoming a fantastic array of scholars, musicians, filmmakers and industry representatives to speak on a wide range of MENA-related topics, both historical and contemporary.

Registration is free and full details of the conference can be found on our event’s page:

9.00am-9.30am Registration and Welcome
9.30am-11.00am Histories and Heritages
Chair: Gabrielle Messeder (City, University of London)
How digital technologies and cultures facilitated the musical revival of Aboul Kacem Chebbi’s poem “The Will to Live” from Tunisia to Morocco, Lebanon, and beyond
Dr Amina Boubia (SciencesPo Paris’ Centre for International Studies)
Sheikh Imam: the cassette and oppositional identity in 1970s Egypt
Sophia Frankford (University of Oxford)
From Golha to Golistan: Archiving and preservation of 20th Century Persian performing arts
Jane Lewisohn (SOAS, University of London)
11.00am-11.20am Tea and Coffee
11.20am-1.00pm Film Screening and Discussion
Chair: TBC
Her Bijî Granî (Long Live Granî)
George Murer (City University of New York)
1.00pm-2.00pm Lunch (not provided)
2.00pm-3.30pm Technologies, Identities and Soundscapes
Chair: Dr Rachel Harris (SOAS, University of London)
Mathematics of Separation: Identities outside the orthodox framework of power and resistance in Iran through digital music
Amin Hashemi(SOAS, University of London)
Music encoding initiative and musical heritage of the oral tradition of Maghreb and Mashriq
Dr Sylvaine Leblond Martin (University of Rennes 2 / Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris Nord)
Aesthetics of Technology: sonic transformations in the Palestinian Arab wedding
Jiryis Murkus Ballan, Aghsan Khalilih and Abigail Wood (University of Haifa)
3.30pm-3.50pm Tea and Coffee
3.50pm-5.00pm Scenes, Festivals and Industries
Chair: Sam Mackay (City, University of London)
Defining ‘Success’ in the Era of Social Media: The case of the Moroccan music scene
Cristina Moreno Almeida (King’s College London) and Omar Souhaili aka Dizzy DROS
Nathan Comer: Masåfåt Festival (London and Cairo)
In discussion with Sam Mackay (City, University of London)

One day conference at City, University of London – 23rd May 2017

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding a one day conference at City, University of London on Tuesday 23rd May 2017. Building upon the themes of the project, the conference will be entitled ‘Music, Technology and Digital Cultures in the Middle East and North Africa’.

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars and practitioners (performers, composers, filmmakers, etc.) with an interest in the relationship between technologies and music in the contemporary MENA region. We are adopting a broad definition of ‘technology’ which includes instruments, studio/production technologies, digital and Internet technologies.

We would like to offer our thanks to the Department of Music at City, University of London for hosting the event, and to the Institute of Musical Research (IMR) for providing funding via their Early Career Fellowship scheme. Thanks to the IMR we are able to offer some small travel and accommodation bursaries to students and early career researchers. The deadline for proposals is Monday 16th January 2017, and full details (including the Call for Papers) can be found on the IMR’s website:

Any questions about the conference can be directed to Dr Stephen Wilford. We hope to see you at City in May!


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Music and Digital Culture in the Middle East and North Africa is a new research project based in the Department of Music at City, University in London. In the summer of 2016 we were awarded funding from the university’s Research Pump Priming Fund to conduct research into the role of digital culture in the musical practices of composers, performers and listeners within the contemporary Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. We are particularly interested in the role of the Internet in shaping these musical practices, and considering how this might challenge established ideas of public and private space within MENA societies.

Much of the recent research and writing on the relationship between the Internet and music in the MENA region has focused upon the idea of music as protest, particularly within specific contexts (such as the so-called ‘Arab Spring’). While this work is undoubtedly important, we feel that there also needs to be research conducted into more ‘everyday’ musical practices. We are therefore interested in looking at the broader patterns of musical production, circulation and consumption within the MENA region and throughout MENA diasporic networks. At the same time, we also hope to develop in-depth ethnographic research with the intention of engaging with composers, musicians, producers and listeners.

We would love to hear from anyone with similar interests, either as a scholar or musical practitioner. We will be updating this blog and our Twitter account regularly, and will shortly be announcing details of an event that we are running in London in May 2017.