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Pacing within sonic spaces: a psychology of music and work

Throughout history, the power of music to enhance productivity at work has been exploited. In less technologically advanced societies, group singing (performed principally to serve as reference points for coordinated activity and to ease labor) has been variously studied (e.g. fishermen songs, hunting songs, pounding songs and farming songs). On the other end of the line, the ubiquity of headphones/earphones has engendered a personalized/individualized use of music as people pace themselves within sonic spaces to achieve the most in various activities (e.g. studying, jogging, meditating). Within these two extremes are many other instances where music is employed at work (e.g. in therapy, religion, sports, marketing). Studies on music and work have been largely non-interdisciplinary in nature: approached from ethnomusicological/anthropological, sociohistorical or (recently) neuro-cognitive perspectives. Studies that connect the dots from the different perspectives are still wanting. Combining empirical data from my extensive fieldwork with a critical review of literature and theories from different fields, I intend to synergize the body of knowledge on music and work to produce a composite, comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. Specifically, I intend to produce a monograph that highlights the intricate relationship between music and work by studying critically, how people pace themselves within sonic spaces.


Fellows involved in this project

Iso Lomso Fellow

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Related publications


Otchere, Eric D. 2022. Cocooned in Harmony: Power, Agency and Multiple Realities in the Songs of Indigenous Ghanaian Seine Fisherfolk.

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].