SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Deirdre Morgan

BA, MA (University of British Columbia)
  • Overview
  • Research


Deirdre Morgan
Deirdre Morgan
Email address:
Thesis title:
Speaking in tongues: Music, identity, and representation in the international jew’s harp community
Year of Study:
Began 2012
Internal Supervisors


Deirdre Morgan is an ethnomusicologist, performer, and arts administrator who holds a B.A. in literature, film & creative writing (2006), and an M.A. in ethnomusicology (2008), both from the University of British Columbia. She is currently working on a PhD on the international jew's harp revival at SOAS, University of London.

Deirdre is also an interdisciplinary performer whose interests include traditional music and improvisation. Over the past decade, Deirdre's fieldwork in search of jew's harps and the people who play them has taken her across North America, Europe, Russia, and Bali.

As an arts administrator, Deirdre has worked for several professional performing arts organizations. She served as Executive Director of the Jew's Harp Guild and the North American Jew's Harp Festival for two years, and is currently a Board member with the International Jew's Harp Society and President of the SOAS Mouth Harp Society. She has appeared on CBC Radio, Voice of America, NPR, SOAS Radio, CiTR Radio, and Fairchild TV.

PhD Research

My doctoral research explores the social and musical phenomenon of the international jew’s harp movement that has been developing since the late 20th century. A music revival taking place through a year-round calendar of regional and international festivals as well as online, Jew’s harp players, collectors, and enthusiasts are now interacting with each other at an unprecedented rate. Using ethnographic case studies of established Jew’s harp communities and their music (Norway, Austria, and Sicily), I use the Jew’s harp revival to explore contemporary issues including the safeguarding of cultural heritage, the redefinition of musical styles and canons in response to globalization, and the negotiation of identity and community in the digital age.


"Cracking the Code: The role of archival recordings in the revival of the Norwegian munnharpe." Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Wyndham Grand Downtown Hotel, Pittsburgh, November 13, 2014.

"Excavating Heritage: The Jew’s harp revivals of Norway, Austria, and Sicily." International Study Group on Music Archaeology 9th symposium, “Sound – Object – Culture – History”, Ethnological Museum, Berlin, September 13, 2014.

"Breathing Life to Iron: Audio recordings and the (re)making of the Jew’s harp virtuoso." British Forum for Ethnomusicology / Analytical Approaches to World Music conference, “Analysis, Cognition, Ethnomusicology”, SOAS, University of London, July 1, 2014.

"Harnessing Participation: Social media as living cultural archive in the international Jew’s harp community." British Forum for Ethnomusicology and ICTM-Ireland joint conference, “Ethnomusicology in the Digital Age”, Queen’s University, Belfast. April 6, 2013.

"Hearing Balinese Genggong: the Jew’s harp and the anthropology of musical instruments." British Forum for Ethnomusicology, “Making Sound Objects”, Pitt-Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. November 24, 2012.


Society for Ethnomusicology;British Forum for Ethnomusicology;International Council for Traditional Music


Ethnography; Jew's harp; music and identity; representation; approaches to musical instruments & organology; ethnographic methods; multi-sited fieldwork; performance as research; ethics; intangible culture; oral transmission; music & trance; shamanism; drone & overtone music; musical transcription & analysis; comparative & cross-cultural studies; documentary film production; radio production; the music business. Area studies: Norway, Austria, Sicily, Bali.