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Jeff Todd Titon


Jeff Todd Titon (born 1943) is a professor emeritus of music at Brown University. He holds the B.A. (1965) from Amherst College; and the M.A. (in English, 1970) and the 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, 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) and Powerhouse for God: Speech, Chant and Song in an Appalachian Baptist Church (University of Texas Press, 1988; 2nd ed. University of Tennessee Press, 2018). 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). 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. In 2015 his field recordings were chosen for preservation in the National Recording Registry, Library of Congress. Titon is known for developing collaborative ethnographic research based on reciprocity and friendship, for helping to establish an applied ethnomusicology based in social responsibility, for proposing that music cultures can be understood as ecosystems, for introducing the concepts of musical and cultural sustainability, and for his appeal for a sound commons for all living creatures and his current ecomusicological project of a sound ecology. 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.

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