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Mr Thomas Anthony Graves

BMus (Kent), MMus (SOAS)

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Member of the Department of Music  


Thomas is an Ethnomusicologist with a significant interest in Music Psychology who is currently pursuing a PhD with Professors Martin Clayton and Tuomas Eerola.

His area of interest is in North Indian music, specifically Qawwali, the most popular Sufi music of the region. His research aims to combine ethnomusicological with psychological methods. He focusses upon musical, textual, and contextual elements which contribute to musical emotion in a ritual context, aiming at a constructive critique of extant theories of musical emotion in music psychology.

He holds an MMus in Ethnomusicology from SOAS, where he studied South Asian Music with Professor Richard Widdess, Central Asian Music with Professor Rachel Harris, Ethnomusicology with Professor Keith Howard, and Music in Development with Dr Angela Impey, as well as beginning his ongoing study of the Urdu language. He also holds a BMus in Popular Music from the University of Kent, where he discovered his interests in Ethnomusicology and Musical Emotion.

He has published on the experience of joy in collective music making in a community folk group in England (soon to be published in an updated form as a chapter in the book Musical Spaces: Place, Performance and Power edited by James Williams and Sam Horlor). He has also given a paper at the 2018 British forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, for which he was awarded a BFE student bursary.

Alongside his PhD research, he is currently concluding a research project examining YouTube comments on Qawwali Videos, and contributes to the modules Music of India and Dissertation in Music (undergraduate) as a graduate teaching assisstant, as well as having provided captions for the Psychology of Music module.

He is a recipient of the SEMPRE Gerry Farrell Travelling Scholarship.

Speaking Engagements:

'YouTube Qawwali as Affective Solidarity in India-Pakistan Relations.' Colloquium Panellist: Punjab Sounds: Affect, Technology and the Aural Across Region and Nation, University of Sheffield. (August 2021).

Respondent: 'Filippo Bonini Baraldi - Roma Music and Emotion'. Durham University Research Forum. (June 2021).

Panellist: 'Conducting Online Research in Music and Politics'. Music and Politics seminar, Durham University Postgraduate Research Seminar (May 2021)

'The “Love from India” Meme in Qawwālī YouTube Comments' Music and Science Lab Meeting, Durham University (January 2021)

Panellist: Challenges for Doctoral Research in Music during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Durham University Postgraduate Research Seminar (November 2020)

'Conceptual Mapping as a Fieldwork Method for Psychological Ethnomusicology: A Quantitative Approach to Emic Descriptions of Musical Emotion', Van Mildert College MCR Research Dialogue (May 2020)

'Qawwali and the Psychology of Musical Emotion: Research Plans' Durham University Postgraduate Research Seminar (February 2020)

'Psychological Empiricism and Anthropological Relativism as Dialectic in an Epistemology of Musical Emotion: Insights from a Mixed-Methodology Study of Qawwāli' British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, Newcastle University (April 2018)

Research interests

  • Music and Emotion
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Qawwali
  • Music and Islam
  • Music of North India
  • Music and Ritual


Journal Article

  • Graves, T A (2018). The Social & Spatial Basis of Musical Joy: Folk Orc & the Music Centre as Special Refuge & Ritual. Musicology Research (5): 425-452.