SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Professor Rachel Beckles Willson

GRSM hons (London), MMus (Glasgow), PhD (London)
  • Research
  • Publications


Rachel Beckles Willson
Department of Music

Research Associate

Professor Rachel Beckles Willson
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Rachel Beckles Willson is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and widely-published researcher, now Professorial Research Associate at SOAS. She is founder and editor of Oudmigrations, a web-based resource for understanding musical instruments across time and space which inspired a concert series in Rome 2018-19; co-founder of Today is Good!, a song-writing project with asylum-seekers in Sicily; and Director of Beyond Mode, a quartet exploring new music at the boundaries of traditions from around the Mediterranean.

For 19 years Professor Beckles Willson worked full-time in academia, most recently as Professor at Royal Holloway, where she taught courses on Intercultural Performance, Music and Orientalism, and Ensemble Performance among others, and supervised doctoral research on topics from the Hungarian folk revival to Kuwaiti song. As a scholar, she has published numerous articles and books, including Orientalism and Musical Mission: Palestine and the West (2013), and Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (2007). Her current research interests are focused on in gender, migration and the environment in the increasingly globalised traditions of the Middle East.

As an oud player she explored Arab and Iraqi traditions before coming to concentrate on Ottoman repertories and makam, but is most interested in developing new repertories for the instrument. For more information, please visit Professor Beckles Willson's YouTube channel.


Migration, gender, musical composition, performance, history and politics. The oud.
19th to 21st-century Palestine, Hungary, and African migration to Europe. 
For a full list of publications, please visit Professor Beckles Willson's website.


The source of publications is currently unavailable or does not comply with formatting requirements.