Music and Creation

What is music and how can we study it?

In this third volume of her forthcoming series 'In Search of Human Culture', the eminent anthropologist offers her own answers. she draws on both on her own first-hand work in Africa, the South Pacific and England and on extensive documentary sources, and provides a guide to the vast literature on the issues.

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About Ruth Finnegan

Under my academic name of Ruth Finnegan I am Emeritus Professor in Social Sciences (Sociology) at The Open University, United Kingdom, also a Fellow of the British Academy and an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford, my alma mater. I have conducted anthropological fieldwork in Africa, Fiji and England, publishing mainly on the anthropology of art, communication, and performance, also on comparative literacy, ‘orality’ and multimodality. My recent publications include ‘Communicating’ (2002), ‘The Oral and Beyond’ (2007), ‘Why Do We Quote?’ (2011), 'Where is Language', and a second (illustrated) edition of ‘Oral Literature in Africa’ .

Currently (2015) I am working on a number of books and am especially interested in the ( controversial) issues connected with important topics such as the reality of dreams, return from death, and new views if cinsciousness, and above all the connection if such phenomena with the heightened consciousness of musical experience. An edited volume entitled 'Entrancement: Integrating Dreams, Music and Consciousness' is due out in 2016 (University of Wales Press).

I have also in the last few years turned to writing fuction, initially under the alias iof Catherine Farrar, now under my birth name of Ruth Finnegan. This includes the four novellas of 'The Angel Quartet' ('The Little Angel and the Three Wosdoms', 'Loving -Three!', 'The Heavenly Rocker', and 'The Dragon's Tale') and, must recently ( late 2015), the successful full-length 'Bkack Inked Pearl', a remarkable and highly original novel which has been compared to 'The Alchemist' , totally originating in my dreams.

Personal background. I was born and brought up in Derry and Donegal in northern Ireland which will forever affect my outlook and language, not least my love of music (I still like to sing in a choir when I can - reflected in Sophy’s reluctant engagement in ‘The Little Angel’) and in the music of words. For this and much else I owe a great debt to my parents, Tom and Agnes Finnegan, to my brothers and sister, my husband David and our three wonderful daughters and their children, who I hope will one day read and enjoy my stories.

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