SOAS University of London

Mu Qian

My research project at SOAS, “Sounding Islam in China”, was what motivated me to do PhD study.

Mu Qian studied for a PhD in Music at SOAS and is now Editor, Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM)

Why did you choose SOAS, and why ethnomusicology?

My research project at SOAS, “Sounding Islam in China”, was what motivated me to do PhD study, and SOAS is the best place to study ethnomusicology in Europe.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

My supervisor Rachel Harris’s guide, and my fieldwork in Xinjiang.

Can you tell us about the work you do now and how you got there?

RILM is a database of music research. As an editor of the database, I am mostly abstracting and indexing publications about music, which teaches me a lot. RILM is very useful, I didn’t know much about it when I was studying at SOAS, but I recommend anyone studying music to try it. Outside my job, I write about music for both academia and the general public. I also promote traditional music through producing performances and recordings. The things I do are all inter-related.

How has your experience at SOAS helped you in your career?

It gives me a vision that I didn’t have before.

What advice would you give to students thinking about studying ethnomusicology at SOAS?

While what you can achieve ultimately depends on yourself, SOAS will provide you more possibilities. My regret is that I didn’t spend much time in the PhD students’ study room to listen to the many old records of music from around the world. Do it if you have a chance.