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Faculty of Music

Dr Peter  McMurray


Associate Professor of Music
Director of Studies, Queens' College
Takes PhD students


Peter McMurray is an musicologist, saxophonist, and media artist. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of Islam and sound, especially in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, including recitation, liturgy, theology, and architecture and he is currently completing a book and media project, Pathways to God: The Islamic Acoustics of Turkish Berlin. He is also co-editing a volume with Priyasha Mukhopadhyay, Acoustics of Empire, focusing on histories of sound, media and power in the 19th century. Other research interests include global histories of music theory, histories of audiovisual media (e.g., especially magnetic audio media, 1890-1945) and intersections of race and listening. His media practice includes extensive non-fiction audio and video work.

For over 10 years he worked as the Assistant Curator of the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature and he continues to do research on oral poetry, the history/theory of orality, and the voice. As a performer, he has a longstanding interest in jazz and experimental improvisation. He also has been a part of Harvard’s metaLAB and Sensate Journal. From 2019-2021, he co-convened the "Auralities" seminar at CRASSH.

He completed a PhD in Music at Harvard, with secondary emphasis in Critical Media Practice. He also holds degrees in music composition (MFA, Brandeis) and Classics (Greek) and Slavic Literature (BA, Harvard). After his doctoral studies, he held postdoctoral fellowships at MIT (Mellon) and Harvard’s Society of Fellows.

He is a fellow and director of studies in Music at Queens' College.

From 2022-2027, he will be leading the research project "Ottoman Auralities and the Eastern Mediterranean: Sound, Media and Power, 1789-1922." PhD applications related to this topic will be especially welcome throughout its duration.

More information on projects and publications can be found here. If you're looking for a digital copy of something, please email directly (


Key publications: 

2024. Singers and Tales in the 21st Century. Co-edited with David F. Elmer. Cambridge, MA: Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature. 

  • "Introduction: Parry, Lord, and the Polyphonic Archive." With David F. Elmer, 1-17.
  • "There Are No Oral Media? Multisensory Perceptions of South Slavic Epic Poetry." 473-504. (Online pre-print version here.)
  • Translation. Kunić, Mirsad. "The Many Deaths of Mustaj Beg of Lika." From Bosnian, 231-261.

2021. "Mobilizing Karbala: sonic remediations in Berlin Ashura processions." Ethnic and Racial Studies 44/10: 1864-1885. Excerpt here.

2021. "Teichoacoustics, or the Wall as Sonic Medium in Antiquity." In Curtis, Lauren and Naomi Weiss, eds. Music and Memory in the Ancient Greek and Roman World, 148-172. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2021. "Toward a Black Ecomusicology, 1853? Listening to Enslavement with Solomon Northup." 19th-Century Music 45/1: 79-90. Excerpt here.

2021. "Cemetery Poetics: The Social Life of Cemeteries in Muslim Europe." In Puzon, Katarzyna, et al., eds. Islam and Heritage in Europe: Pasts, Presents and Future Possibilities, 51-67. Abingdon: Routledge. Open Access book.

2021. "Qur'an Alphabetics and the Timbre of Recitation." In Dolan, Emily I. and Alexander Rehding, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Timbre. New York: Oxford University Press.

2020. "What is it like to be a crane? Notes on Alevi semah and the Sivas massacre." Culture, Theory and Critique 61/2-3: 151-168. Excerpt here.

2019. "On Serendipity: Or, Toward a Sensual Ethnography." In Barz, Gregory and William Cheng, eds. Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology, 380-396. New York: Oxford University Press. Excerpt here.

2019. "Witnessing Race in the New Digital Cinema." In Cook, Nicholas, et al., eds. The Cambridge Companion to Music in Digital Culture, 124-146. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Excerpt here.

2019. "After the Archive: An Archaeology of Bosnian Voices." In Gunderson, Frank, et al., eds. The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, 607-626. New York: Oxford University Press.

2019. "The Revolution Will Not Be Telegraphed: Shari'a Law as Mediascape." In Williams, Gavin, ed. Hearing the Crimean War: Wartime Sound and the Unmaking of Sense, 24-58. New York: Oxford University Press.

2018. "Ephemeral cartography: on mapping sound." Sound Studies 4/2: 110-142.

2017. "Meta-Aurality: A History of Listening to Listening." Journal of the American Musicological Society 70/1: 33-39.

2017. Special journal issue, "Tape." Co-edited with Andrea F. Bohlman. Twentieth-Century Music 14/1.

2015. "Archival Excess: Sensational Histories beyond the Audiovisual." Fontes Artis Musicae 62/3: 262-275.

2014. "YouTube Music--Haptic or Optic?Repercussions 11: 1-47.

Teaching and Supervisions


IA - Music in Contemporary Societies (formerly 'Music and Musicology Today')

IB - Introduction to Ethnomusicology; Introduction to Popular Music

II - Planetary Listening (2023- ), also open to MPhil students; Decolonizing the Ear (2018-2022)

I also lecture for the Film/Screen Studies MPhil and the Social Studies Research Methods Programme (ethnography).

For inquiries about prospective graduate study, please email me directly.