About Ian


As a scholar, teacher, and performer, I am interested in embodied and social cognition—how musicians learn and think through their bodies, as well as in relation to others—and in the relationship between musical thinking and collective memory, particularly in the Western Mediterranean.

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Oud by Khalid Belhaiba, Dar Bouazza, Morocco; Flamenco guitar by Jose Luís Bellido, Granada, Spain; acoustic, steel-string guitar by Collings, Austin, TX (2007); mandolin by The Gibson Co., Kalamazoo, MI



Specializing in the musics of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa, as well as in American Roots genres

I recently received the PhD in Music from the University of California, Berkeley (2017), where my doctoral research focused on contemporary, intercultural musical collaborations in Spain and Morocco. In my dissertation, Experiencing Musical Connection: Sonic Interventions in Mediterranean Social Memory, I explore how musicians perceive and act upon their own senses of connection between disparate styles, based on understandings of a shared cultural heritage linking both sides of the Gibraltar Strait. Through three case studies in collaborative music making, I show how these encounters nourish the acquisition of new musical abilities, illuminate a set of interactive possibilities within an ensemble, and inspire novel forms of musical creativity, as the participants ultimately seek to reshape the landscape of social memory in the Iberian Peninsula.

My PhD from Cal is preceded by an MA in Music from Tufts University (2010), and a BA in Politics from Brandeis University (1999). 

An undergraduate lecturer, teacher and performer on mandolin, guitar, and lap steel, player of oud, and vocalist, I am currently Applied Faculty in Music at Tufts University, and serve on the teaching faculty at the Concord Conservatory of Music.  I have taught undergraduate courses in Musics of the Middle East and in Music Fundamentals, among other courses relating to music and culture, both in Greater Boston and in the Bay Area.

Publications:  “Music and Cognition,” in Oxford Bibliographies.

“Zaide and the Poet King of Seville.” Journal of Arab Music Research 1. (forthcoming)

Research Interests: Embodied and social music cognition; intercultural collaboration; collective memory; music and cultural history of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa, Spain, U.S.A.; plucked-lute chordophones, the psychology of music teaching & learning.


 - A full CV is available upon request -