Dr. William Sumits

Tel: +90 212 293 60 67 / 124
Mail: sumits@oiist.org

Will Sumits is an ethnomusicologist and research associate for the Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae (CMO) project. His doctoral thesis at the School of Oriental & African studies (SOAS) focused on the evolution of Central Asian art music traditions from the 17th-19th centuries. He has taught ethnomusicology at Istanbul Technical University and the University of Central Asia in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and has worked for the Aga Khan Music Programme to develop music education programs throughout Central Asia. Will is a purveyor of early sound recordings and of historical musical instruments, many of which are now housed in various museum collections. He has received various fellowships for his research on Central Asian music history, and served as a jury member at the International Mugham Festival & Competition in Baku, Azerbaijan. His ongoing research focuses on the historical development of music theory and performance practice in the greater Middle East. He is currently a researcher at OII for the CMO project where he is tasked with expanding the CMO source catalog of late-Ottoman music manuscripts and notations.

Historical Ethnomusicology


Auditory History

History of sound recording

September 2019: “Sound Archives of Ottoman Music.” Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae Workshop: Archives of Ottoman Music. Orient- Institut Istanbul.

September 2018: “The Early History of Shashmaqom”. International Symposium: Maqom Forum. Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan.

March 2017: “From Timurid Herat to Ottoman Istanbul: Musical Connections”. Conference: Musica e cultura da Herat a Istanbul. Università Ca’Foscari, Venice, Italy.

April 2016: “Masters of Central Asian Music: Tradition & Innovation”. Stanford University, Center for Computer Research in Music & Acoustics (CCRMA).

May 2015: “Cultural Development in Ethnically Diverse Societies”. College of Drama and Music, Khartoum, Sudan.

September 2013: “Modal Suite Forms in 17th Century Maqām Performance:. International Symposium: “Shashmaqam”. National Conservatory, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

May 2012: “From 12 Maqām to Four Shadd to Shashmaqām: between theory and practice”. Conference: Musical Geographies of Central Asia. SOAS, University of London.

October 2012: “Music and Musicians in 15th Century Afghanistan”. International Symposium: “Falak”. Ministry of Culture, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

November 2011: “The Emergence of the Shashmaqām Suite Performance Tradition”. International Symposium on Maqām. Weimar, Germany, November 2011.

March 2011: “17th Century Suite Performance of Maqām and Its Ties to the 19th Century Dastgāh of Azerbaijan & Iran”. International Mugham Symposium. Baku, Azerbaijan.

“Tawārīkh-i Mūsīqīyūn: The ‘Histories of Musicians’ from Herat and Khotan according to a 19th century Chaghatai treatise from Eastern Turkestan”, Revue des Traditions Musicales des Mondes Arabe et Méditerranéen, No. 10  (October, 2016). Études en l’honneur de Jean During. 127-200.

“Maqām traditions of Uzbekistan and Central Asia”. Levin, Theodore, Saida Daukeyeva & Elmira Kechümkulova (Eds.). Music of Central Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2016. 234-250.

“Music in the Shi’a World”, Amyn Sajoo; Farhad Daftary (Eds.). The Shii World: Pathways in Tradition and Modernity. London: I.B Tauris 2015.

with Ted Levin: “Uzbekistan and Tajikistan”.  Michael Church (Ed.). The Other Classical Musics: 15 Great Traditions. Londin: Boydell & Brewer 2015. 340-360.

“Music and musicians in 15th century Afghanistan”. Proceedings of the International Symposium Falak. Dushanbe: Adib Publishers 2014.

“The development of modal suite forms in 17th century maqām performance” Proceedings of the International Symposium Shashmaqam. Dushanbe: Adib Publishers 2014.

“17th century suite performance of maqām and its ties to the 19th century dastgāh of Azerbaijan and Iran”. Proceedings of the International Conference of Mugham, Baku: Ministry of Culture 2011. 160-170.