SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Dr Peter Cooke

MA (Wales) PhD (Edinburgh) ARCM, Dip Ed.
  • Teaching
  • Research


Peter Cooke
Department of Music

Research Associate

Dr Peter Cooke
Email address:


Peter Cooke is an ethnomusicologist with particular interest in Ugandan and Scottish music, as well as having considerable expertise in the fields of music education, applied ethnomusicology and archiving. Currently a Research Associate at SOAS, Peter is also classed as a Visiting Academic at Birmingham University, where he taught ethnomusicology part-time for a decade. He continues to give occasional lectures and workshops (eg. The John Bird Lecture at Cardiff University in November 2015 and the John Blacking RAI lecture at Durham in 2014).

Peter began his career teaching music in secondary schools and as a lecturer at Redland College of Education in Bristol before moving to Uganda in 1964 to work as head of music at Makerere College School. A year later he was moved to the newly founded National Teachers’ College at Kyambogo (now Kyambogo University) to establish the new music department. He returned to the UK in 1968, and in 1969 was appointed to lead research into the traditional music of Scotland at the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University. Whilst in Edinburgh Peter gained his doctorate with a study entitled The Fiddle Music Tradition of the Shetland Isles (1980) and he also initiated ethnomusicology courses within the Faculty of Music there.

Since taking early retirement in 1989, Peter has found more time for research and to resume visits to Uganda and to undertake some archival work. He prepared his own collection of Indian and African field recordings for deposit in the British Library’s National Sound Archive; and in 2002-2003 he visited Banjul as a World Bank consultant to undertake the re-equipping of the Gambia National Museum’s sound archive and the retraining of its staff. Peter also spent a semester as Visiting Professor at the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University, organising and indexing the Laura Boulton Collection of field recordings; and from 1994-1995 he worked similarly on the Jean Jenkins Archive housed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.


The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles (1986)


Honorary Fellow, Institute of Advanced Reearch in Arts and Social Sciences, Univ. of Birmingham. Honorary Member British Forum for Ethnomusicology,



Music of East Africa, music in education, psychology of music, relationships between vocal and instrumental music, music and identity among the Acoli.