Alexander Cannon

Colleges, School and Institutes


Alexander M. Cannon is an ethnomusicologist with research expertise in Vietnamese music and creativity studies. He holds an undergraduate degree in flute performance and mathematical economics from Pomona College (California) and a PhD from the University of Michigan. He most recently taught at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he taught Asian music, Western art music, and research methods, as well as directed a Vietnamese music ensemble.

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’. Currently, he is completing 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. Tentatively titled Raising Vibrant Truths: Competing Creativities in Southern Vietnamese Traditional Music, he argues that creativity, rather than a casual descriptor of talent, emerges from competing structures of historical trajectory, power, and authority. His next research project evaluates the impact of intangible cultural heritage policies from the Republic of Vietnam, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on local music practice in southern Vietnam.

Willingness to take 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.