Alexander Cannon


  • Associate Professor, Music

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome applications from research students interested in any of the following areas: Vietnamese music; traditional music of Asia and its diasporas; creativity theory; musical sustainability; intangible cultural heritage; semiotics; and queer ethnography.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Dr Alexander M. Cannon is an ethnomusicologist with research expertise in Vietnamese music and creativity studies. He is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Birmingham, and serves as Co-Editor of the journal Ethnomusicology Forum and on the Executive Committee of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology. He previously taught at Western Michigan University, and served as Secretary of the Society for Asian Music Board and Book Reviews Editor for the Yearbook for Traditional Music. He holds an undergraduate degree in flute performance and mathematical economics from Pomona College (California) and a PhD from the University of Michigan.

Research interests

Dr Cannon’s research over the past decade has investigated the changing nature of traditional music practice in southern Vietnam. He primarily studies the genre đờn ca tài tử, a ‘music for diversion’ also called the ‘music of talented amateurs’. He recently completed a monograph that examines notions of creativity used by Vietnamese musicians to sustain interest in traditional music and to rejuvenate debates concerning the Vietnamese identity in an increasingly cosmopolitan and globalised Vietnam. Titled Seeding the Tradition: Musical Creativity in Southern Vietnam, he argues that southern Vietnamese musicians draw from long-standing theories of Daoist creation while adopting strategically from and also reacting to a western neo-liberal model of creativity focused on the individual genius. These musicians play with metaphors of growth, development, and ruin to maintain their tradition and keep it vibrant in the rapidly-shifting context of modern Vietnam. His next research project examines  the impact of climate and environmental change on music practice among Vietnamese and Khmer Krom musicians of the Mekong Delta.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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