Eliot Bates

Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, researcher of audio technologies, music in Turkey, modular synthesis, ouds and STS

Eliot Bates is an ethnomusicologist and recording engineer with a special interest in the social studies of technology. His research examines recording production and the social lives of musical instruments and studio recording technologies.

Profile picture of Eliot Bates
  • Associate Professor of EthnomusicologyMusicCUNY Graduate Center
  • *Non-CUNY
RECORDINGS performances
Starting in 2018 I experimented with creating music for Eurorack-format modular synthesizers that worked with the Anatolian makam system of modes (including their distinctive tuning systems), but that pushed the timbral and gestural aspects of the music in new dimensions. This project has become known as makamqore. In 2020 I released makamqore vol. 1  [listen on bandcamp]. A number of live performance vids of the project can be found here, and here, and here, and here, and here.
From 2001-2016 I’ve had an intermittent recording duo with San-Francisco based musician Dan Fries called Basquerole. We’ve released two albums so far: Morning of Radiance (2001), and Aughts and 40s (2016). It’s horribly overproduced electronic music made from eclectic instruments that we’ve performed ourselves (often quite badly).
Since 2013 I’ve had a collaboration with Baby Dee featuring our original compositions for oud and organ that goes by the name of The Big Bumble Bees. Our first album came out in 2013 on Tin Angel Records. We think you might like it very much; you certainly won’t find any finer music anywhere written specifically for oud and organ. On our second album, we were joined by Robbie Lee. That album has yet to see the light of day (it’s hibernating).
From 2009-2012 I performed and recorded with Current 93, contributing to the albums Baalstorm, Sing Omega (2010), Drank HoneySuckle Æons (2011) and HoneySuckle Æons (2011).
From 1996-2013 I had a solo ambient project called Kaderci that resulted in 5 albums, the first three of which are effectively lost due to bit rot or other natural conspiracies. It’s fitting, really, since the project was, from the beginning, about imperfections in the chaotic cartographic mapping of the world. However, mapping cartographic abstractions (2008) and mercator’s revenge (2013) are on bandcamp!


Bates, Eliot, and Samantha Bennett. (2022) Gear: Cultures of Music and Audio Technologies. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Bennett, Samantha, and Eliot Bates, eds. 2018. Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 

Bates, Eliot. 2016. Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul’s Recording Studio Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Bates, Eliot. 2011. Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Global Music Series. New York: Oxford University Press.

sole-authored articles

Bates, Eliot. 2020a. “Resource Ecologies, Political Economies, and the Ethics of Audio Technologies in the Anthropocene.” Popular Music 39 (1): 66-87.

Bates, Eliot. 2020b. “Agency in Contemporary Recording Production.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Creative Process in Music, edited by Nicolas Donin. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bates, Eliot. 2020c. “Recording Studios Since 1970.” In The Bloomsbury Handbook of Music Production, ed. Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Andrew Bourbon. Bloomsbury. 

Bates, Eliot. 2019a. “Actor-Network Theory and Organology.” Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 44. 

Bates, Eliot. 2019b. “Vinyl as Event: Record Store Day and Value-Vibrant Matter Nexus.” Journal of Cultural Economy 13 (6): 690–708.

Bates, Eliot. 2019c. “Technological Encounters in the Interculturality of Istanbul’s Recording Studios” El Oído Pensante 7(1): 145-71.

Bates, Eliot. 2014. “Music, Mobility and Distributed Recording Production in Turkish Protest Music.” In Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, edited by Jason Stanyek and Sumanth Gopinath, volume 2:339–60. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Bates, Eliot. 2013a. “Idiosyncratic Virtuosity: An Analysis of Three Performances by Istanbul’s Studio Musicians.” In Performance in the Studio Conference. 

Bates, Eliot. 2013b. “Popular Music Studies and the Problems of Sound, Society and Method.” IASPM@Journal 3 (2). 

Bates, Eliot. 2012a. “The Social Life of Musical Instruments.” Ethnomusicology 56 (3): 363–95. 

Bates, Eliot. 2012b. “What Studios Do.” Journal on the Art of Record Production 7. Bates, Eliot. 2011. Music in Turkey: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Bates, Eliot. 2010. “Mixing for Parlak and Bowing for a Büyük Ses: The Aesthetics of Arranged Traditional Music in Turkey.” Ethnomusicology 54 (1): 81–105.

Bates, Eliot. 2009. “Ron’s Right Arm: Tactility, Visualization, And The Synesthesia Of Audio Engineering.” Journal on the Art of Record Production 4 (October). 

Bates, Eliot. 2008. “Social Interactions, Musical Arrangement, and the Production of Digital Audio in Istanbul Recording Studios.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley. 

Bates, Eliot. 2004. “Glitches, Bugs, and Hisses: The Degeneration of Musical Recordings and the Contemporary Musical Work.” In Bad Music: Music You Love to Hate, edited by Chris Washburne and Maiken Derno, 212–25. New York: Routledge.


Bates, Eliot. (2021a). “Technological and Methodological Assemblages: Analyzing the Production of Culture in Istanbul’s Recording Studios.” In The Ethnography of Recording Studios, ed. Giovanni Giuriati and Serena Facci. Fondazione Cini. 

Bates, Eliot. (2021b). “The Interface and Instrumentality of Eurorack Modular Synthesis.” In Rethinking Music through Science and Technology Studies, ed. Christophe Levaux and Antoine Hennion. Routledge. Invited chapter. 

Bates, Eliot. (2022). “Feeling Analog: Using Modular Synthesizers, Designing Synthesis Communities.” In Shaping Sound: The Cultural Study of Musical Instruments, ed. Stephen Cottrell. Invited chapter; in press. 

Bates, Eliot, and Arseni Troitski. (2022) “Grid Culture.” In Modular Synthesis: Patching Machines and People, ed. Andreas Kitzman et al. Invited chapter; in press.


Ph.D. in Music (Ethnomusicology), University of California, Berkeley (2008)
M.A. in Music (Ethnomusicology and Interactive Computer Media), Wesleyan University (1997)

B.M. in Music Composition, University of California, Santa Barbara (1994)

Academic Interests

audio technologies, modular synthesis, online music communities, music in Turkey, critical organology