Timothy Rommen

Associate Professor of Music

Timothy Rommen received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2002. He specializes in the music of the Caribbean with research interests that include folk and popular sacred music, popular music, critical theory, ethics, diaspora, tourism, and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. The majority of his research is focused on musics circulating in and around the Anglophone Caribbean. His first book, entitled "Mek Some Noise": Gospel Music and the Ethics of Style in Trinidad (University of California Press, 2007), was awarded the Alan P. Merriam Prize by the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2008. He is a contributing author to and editor of Excursions in World Music, and a contributor to the Cambridge History of World Music (forthcoming). His articles and reviews appear in Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, the Black Music Research Journal, the Latin American Music Review, The World of Music, The New West Indian Guide, the Journal of Religion, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, the Journal of Anthropological Research, the International Dictionary of Black Composers, and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.

Research Interests: 

Tim is currently working on an edited collection, in collaboration with Dan Neely, entitled Sun, Sound, and Sand: Reflections on Music Touristics in the Circum-Caribbean. This volume explores the various modalities of tourism that confront musicians throughout the circum-Caribbean—modalities ranging from mass tourism to cruise ships, from festivals to intra-regional and ex-patriate tourism. In so doing, the volume seeks to interrogate the diverse range of challenges and dynamics attendant to the variegated encounters between musicians and tourists in the region. Emphasizing the choices and negotiations of musicians in these contexts as well as the differing levels of investment in these musical encounters on the part of tourists, the volume’s contributors develop a more nuanced sense of the stakes attendant to music touristics in the circum-Caribbean.

Tim is also engaged in a long-term musical ethnography of Dominica. Focusing on the musical complexities and socio-cultural meanings accruing to jing ping, cadence-lypso, and bouyon in the process of interacting with each other and with other local and translocal genres, this project investigates: 1) the many ways through which historical and contemporary junctures and disjunctures between the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean have shaped the particular spaces within which Dominican music is produced and consumed; 2) the musical and linguistic inheritances that, forged into new statements of creole musical life, combine to provide rich sources for the region’s popular music; and 3) the fraught dynamics by virtue of which tourism and the fiscal pressures attendant to small island economics continue to exert downward pressure on the options and opportunities available to musicians and audiences in Dominica.

Publications and Recordings

Courses Taught: 

Undergraduate Courses

  • Introduction to Music in World Cultures (MUSC 50)
  • Introduction to Global Music (MUSC 150)
  • Latin American Music (MUSC 158)
  • Caribbean Music and Diaspora (MUSC 258)
  • Accordions of the New World (MUSC 157)

Graduate Courses

  • Intellectual History of Ethnomusicology (MUSC 605)
  • Writing About Music (MUSC 608)
  • Field Methods in Ethnomusicology (MUSC 650/450)
  • Caribbean Music and the Ethics of Style (MUSC 705)
  • Caribbean Popular Music and Tourism (MUSC 705)
  • Theorizing the circum-Caribbean (MUSC 705)