Eliot Bates, an ethnomusicologist by training, has contributed new approaches to the study of music’s instruments, materialities, technologies, infrastructures, and production workflows. From 2004 to 2016, Bates researched these within Istanbul’s recording studios, luthieries, and music industry; since 2013, their work has broadened geographically to consider European, North American, and Australian audio technology gear cultures.

Committed to social science and ethnographic methods, Bates incorporates an experimental practice-led research design, whether that entails their ongoing studio-based audio engineering work, collaborative recordings featuring the 11-stringed oud, or Makamqore solo Eurorack performances for the New York Modular Society. Bates has served as either performer, composer, or audio engineer to more than 80 albums produced in the U.S., UK, and Turkey, as well as several TV series and feature films.

In addition to a robust body of journal articles and book chapters, Bates has published three books. In 2018, with Samantha Bennett, Bates co-edited Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound (Bloomsbury Academic), a collection of essays on the intersections of music and technology from leading thinkers in music, audio engineering, anthropology, and media. Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture (Oxford University Press, 2016) offers an ethnography of contemporary studio music production in an effort to investigate the emerging milieu of Anatolian ethnic music, while Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Oxford University Press, 2011) draws on Bates’ extensive fieldwork to situate Turkey’s diverse musical sounds within their respective social contexts and political modernity.

pronouns: they/them


2008    Ph.D. in Music (Ethnomusicology), University of California, Berkeley. Committee: Ben Brinner (supervisor/chair), Jocelyne Guilbault, Charles Hirschkind, Paul Théberge (external).
1997    M.A. in Music (Ethnomusicology and Interactive Computer Media), Wesleyan University.
1994    B.M. in Music Composition, University of California, Santa Barbara.


2018    Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound, co-edited with Samantha Bennett. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. Finalist for Association of American Publishers PROSE award (2019).
2016    Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture. Oxford University Press. 122,000 words. Finalist for ASRC Excellence Award.
2011     Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Global Music Series. Oxford University Press. Mandarin translation published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Persian translation published by the Mahoor Institute in 2018.

Journal articles, peer-reviewed
2020     “Resource ecologies, political economies, and the ethics of audio technologies in the anthropocene.” Popular Music 39(1).
2019     “Vinyl as event: Record Store Day and the value-vibrant matter nexus.” Journal of Cultural Economy. Journal of Cultural Economy 13(6).
2019     “Technological Encounters in the Interculturality of Istanbul’s Recording Studios” El Oído Pensante.
2019     “Actor Network Theory and Organology.” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society  44.
2013    “Popular Music Studies and the Problems of Sound, Society and Method.” IASPM@Journal 3(1): 15-32.
2012    “The Social Life of Musical Instruments.” Ethnomusicology 56(3): 363-395.
2012    “What Studios Do.” Journal on the Art of Record Production 7(1). 12,008 words.
2010    “Mixing for Parlak and Bowing for a Büyük Ses: The Aesthetics of Arranged Traditional Music in Turkey.” Ethnomusicology 54(1):81-105.
2009    “Ron’s Right Arm: Tactility, Visualization, and the Synesthesia of Audio Engineering.” Journal on the Art of Record Production 4(i).

Chapters in edited books
(2022)     “Feeling Analog: Using Modular Synthesizers, Designing Synthesis Communities.” In The Cultural Study of Musical Instruments, ed. Stephen Cottrell.
2021     “The Interface and Instrumentality of Eurorack Modular Synthesis.” In Rethinking Music through Science and Technology Studies, ed. Christophe Levaux and Antoine Hennion. Routledge.
2020     “Agency in Contemporary Recording Production.” In Oxford Handbook of the Creative Process in Music, ed. Nicolas Donin. Oxford.
2020     “Music in Turkey: Contemporary Recording of Traditional Music.” In Global Music Cultures, ed. Bonnie Wade and Patricia Campbell. Oxford.
2020     “Recording Studios Since 1970.” In The Bloomsbury Handbook of Music Production, ed. Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Andrew Bourbon. Bloomsbury.
2014    “Music, Mobility and Distributed Recording Production in Turkish Protest Music,” in Oxford Handbook to Mobile Music, ed. J. Stanyek and S. Gopinath. New York: Oxford, p 339–60.
2004    “Glitches, Bugs, and Hisses: The Degeneration of Musical Recordings and the Contemporary Musical Work,” in Bad Music: The Music We Love to Hate, ed. C. Washburne & M. Derno. New York: Routledge, p 212–25.

2019    Experiencing Armenian Music in Turkey: An Ethnography of Musicultural Memory, by B. Yıldız. Asian Music 50(1).
2016    The Musicology of Record Production, by S. Zagorski-Thomas. twentieth-century music 13(2).
2015    Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music, by J. M. O’Connell. Music and Letters 96(3).
2013    Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia, ed. by A. Rasmussen and D. Harnish. Indonesia 93.
2012    Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music by M. Stokes. the world of music 53(1).
2011    Recorded Music: Performance, Culture and Technology ed. by A. Bayley. Notes 68(2).
2010    The World Map of Music: The Edison Phonograph and the Musical Cartography of the Earth. Berlin Phonogram Archive. Ethnomusicology 54(3).
2005    You Better Work! by Kai Fikentscher. Ethnomusicology 49(2).

Reference works
2010    Oxford Bibliographies Online: “West Asia”

Blog Posts


    Current research projects:

    • modular synthesis

    • critical organology

    • audio technologies

    • ethnographic research methodologies

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    Audio Engineering Society, 28. October 2020, “When Manley Pride Threatens Manly Pride: Examining Gear Online.”

    Society for Ethnomusicology, 31. October 2020, “Resource ecologies, political economies, and the ethics of audio technologies in the anthropocene”


    Society for Ethnomusicology

    Society for Asian Music

    Society for the Social Studies of Science

    Audio Engineering Society (full member)

    Eliot Bates

    Profile picture of Eliot Bates


    Active 1 year, 1 month ago