Michael Frishkopf, BSc (Yale University), MA (Tufts University), PhD (UCLA)

Director Graduate, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept
Professor, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept
Associate Chair (Graduate), Faculty of Arts - Music Dept


Director Graduate, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept

Professor, Faculty of Arts - Music Dept
(780) 492-0225
3-34D Arts Building (Main & Conv Hall)
113 St and 91 Ave
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E6

Associate Chair (Graduate), Faculty of Arts - Music Dept

Contact: mfrishkopf@gmail.com ; office hours, see frishkopf.org.


Area of Study / Keywords

Ethnomusicology Arab world Islam West Africa musical taste social network analysis virtual reality digital repositories machine learning participatory action research development


Michael Frishkopf, Professor of Music at the University of Alberta, is an ethnomusicologist, performer, and composer. A graduate of Yale College (BS Mathematics, 1984), Tufts University (MA Ethnomusicology, 1989), and the University of California, Los Angeles (Ph.D. Music, 1999), Dr. Frishkopf’s ethnomusicological research interests include music of the Arab world; Sufi music; sound in Islamic ritual performance; sound therapies; music and religion; music and architecture; comparative music theory; the sociology of musical taste; social network analysis; (virtual [world) music]; digital music repositories; machine learning; music information retrieval; music in West Africa; participatory action research; psychoacoustics and music cognition; music and global health; indigenous medicine and music as medicine for integrative health; and music for global human development and social change.

His research and teaching combine a number of different fields, including ethnomusicology, anthropology, Middle East studies, religious/Islamic studies, psychoacoustics, computer science, media studies, literary studies, music theory. He is a lifetime member of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the International Council for Traditional Music, and the Middle East Studies Association of North America. 

He has received numerous fellowships supporting his research, including grants from NFRF, AMII, Fulbright, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Killam Foundation (Canada), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, supporting his extensive fieldwork in Egypt. 

In performance, Michael specializes in the nay (Middle Eastern reed flute), and also performs the song-drum-dance traditions of Ghana. He is the founder (in 2004) of the University of Alberta Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble, as well as the University of Alberta West African Music Ensemble (in 1999). Both ensembles perform frequently in public in the Edmonton area, especially to support progressive causes. He also performs “Third Stream” and world music inflected jazz on the piano, following studies with Ran Blake and others in the Third Stream program at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. 

Please see frishkopf.org for more (including a list of publications, many of them online)

Please contact via michaelf@ualberta.ca


Areas of Research & Interest:

  • Ethnomusicology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Stories of Change
  • Sound therapies
  • Human Development
  • Migration and Refugee Studies
  • Music and Global Health
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Religious Studies
  • Islamic studies
  • Middle East studies
  • African Studies
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Machine Learning
  • Media studies
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality

See frishkopf.org for a list of publications (many of them online)


Areas of Instruction:

  • Ethnomusicological theory and practice
  • Music of Africa and the Middle East
  • Sounds of Islam
  • Social Network Analysis

Ensemble Instruction:

Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble (MENAME)

Outreach Instruction:

 Ghana Summer Study Abroad Program


Select Publications

See also ResearchGate.net and Academia.edu

  • Textual Dimensions of the Public Ḥaḍra in Egyptian Sufism. Musicological Annual (2022) 58 (1): 61–99. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.58.1.61-99.
  • A Neurobiological Framework for the Therapeutic Potential of Music and Sound Interventions for Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Critical Illness Survivors by Usha Pant, Michael Frishkopf, Tanya Park, Colleen M. Norris, and Elizabeth Papathanassoglou. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(5), 3113; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19053113
  • The sonic performance of Islamic congregational prayer: Ṣalāh in mainstream Egyptian practice. Performing Islam, Volume 9, Numbers 1-2, December 2021, pp. 5-114 (110 pages)
  • TranceCultural Music: Forging social resonance through asynchronous virtual musical interaction during pandemic. Collectively prepared by members of the TransCultural Orchestra: Allison Sokil, Ari Mastoras, Arsh Khaira, Behrang Nikaeen, Donna Dawson, Jane Zaïane, Jillian Fulton-Melanson, Matt Love, Mehdi Rezania, Michael Frishkopf, More J, Morteza Abedinifard, Nasim Ahmadian, Olga Zaitseva-Herz, Shruti Nair, Tuğrul Özer, and Vahid Macvandi. Published a special issue of the Journal of Music, Health, and Wellbeing (2021)
  • Michael Frishkopf, Guilnard Moufarrej, George Mürer, Carolyn Ramzy, Jonathan Shannon, Nermeen Youssef, and Iman Mersal. (in press) "What Happened to “Songs of the New Arab Revolutions”?" in The Myth of Middle East Exceptionalism: The Unfinished Project of MENA Social Movements. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
  • Frishkopf, Michael. “Music for Global Human Development.” 2021. In Transforming Ethnomusicology, vol. II, edited by Beverly Diamond and Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (27 pages)
  • Frishkopf, Michael. West African Polyrhythm: culture, theory, and representation'. In SHS Web of Conferences, Volume 102, 2021, The 3rd ETLTC International Conference on Information and Communications Technology (ETLTC2021)
  • Frishkopf, Michael. Musical Journeys. 2021. Chapter 11, in Global Middle East: Into the 21st Century, edited by Asef Bayat and Linda Herrera. University of California Press. (View Webinar by contributing authors)
  • Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika, Gillian Creese, Michael Frishkopf, and Njoki Wane. 2020. “Re-envisioning Resilience from African Immigrants’ Perspectives.” Canadian Ethnic Studies, 52:3, pp. 129-149
  • Frishkopf, Michael. "Aesthetics, Creativity, and Mysticism: An Investigation of Three Modes of Consciousness", Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. 54(4), December 2019.
  • Jayarathne, Isuru, Michael Cohen, Michael Frishkopf, and Gregory Mulyk. 2019. “Relaxation ‘Sweet Spot’ Exploration in Pantophonic Musical Soundscape Using Reinforcement Learning.” In Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces: Companion, 55–56. IUI ’19. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3308557.3308686
  • Frishkopf, Michael. “Identity maintenance through ritual language performance among contemporary Egyptian Sufi orders.” 2019. In Aspects of Performance in Faith Settings: Heavenly Acts, ed. Andrey Rosowsky, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishers, pp. 233-266.
  • Frishkopf, Michael. “Aesthetics, Emotion, and Social Solidarity in the Eʋe Kinka Funeral.” 2019. In Death and Creative Instinct: Some Mortuary Arts and Acts from Africa and the Diaspora, edited by Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi. Berlin: Galda Verlag.
  • Rasmussen, Anne K., Angela Impey, Rachel Beckles Willson, Ozan Aksoy, Denise Gill, and Michael Frishkopf. 2019. “Call and Response: SEM President’s Roundtable 2016, ‘Ethnomusicological Responses to the Contemporary Dynamics of Migrants and Refugees.’” Ethnomusicology 63 (2): 279–314.
  • Frishkopf, Michael. "Forging Transnational Actor Networks through Participatory Action Research: Responsibility to Protect via Musical Rehumanisation in Post-War Liberia". World of Music. 7 (1/2): 107-134, 2018.
  • Frishkopf, Michael. Paralinguistic Ramification of Language Performance in Islamic Ritual, Yale Journal of Music and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2018.
  • Frishkopf, Michael and Federico Spinetti, editors. Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam, (University of Texas Press, 2018). (http://bit.ly/musari) Supplemental AV materials are on Archnet. Turkish translation: İslam'da Müzik, Ses ve Mimari, tranlated by Şükrü Atsızelti. Publication expected November 2020.
  • M. Frishkopf, D.Zakus, S.Abu, H.Hamze, M.Alhassan, I.A.Zukpeni. "Traditional Music as a Sustainable Social Technology for Community Health Promotion in Africa: “Singing and Dancing for Health” in Rural Northern Ghana." Annals of Global Health, Volume 83, Issue 1, January–February 2017, Page 38.
  • Frishkopf, Michael. Popular Music as Public Health Technology: Music for Global Human Development and “Giving Voice to Health” in Liberia.[4] Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 54, No. 1-2, Music and Global Health (January/August 2017), pp. 41-86.
  • Frishkopf, Michael, Michael Cohen, and Rasika Ranaweera. Curating Ethnomusicology in Cyberworlds for Ethnomusicological Research. "World Music in Wonderland". Ethnologies, special issue: Exhibiting Soundscapes, edited by Marcia Ostashewski and Michael Frishkopf. 37(1), 2017.
  • Frishkopf, Michael, David Zakus, Hasan Hamze, Mubarak Alhassan, Ibrahim Abukari Zukpeni, Sulemana Abu. 2016 Traditional Music as a Sustainable Social Technology for Community Health Promotion in Africa: “Singing and Dancing for Health” in Rural Northern Ghana. Legon Journal of the Humanities, special issue: Music, Health and Wellbeing: African Perspectives, edited by Florian Carl and Eric Debrah Otchere, 27(2):59-90, 2016.
  • Frishkopf, Michael, Hasan Hamze, Mubarak Alhassan, Ibrahim Abukari Zukpeni, Sulemana Abu, and David Zakus. 2016. “Performing Arts as a Social Technology for Community Health Promotion in Northern Ghana.” Family Medicine and Community Health 4 (1): 22–36, 2016.
  • Ranaweera, Rasika, Michael Cohen, and Michael Frishkopf. 2015. “Narrowcasting and Multipresence for Music Auditioning and Conferencing in Social Cyberworlds.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 24 (3): 220–42, 2015.
  • “Muslims, music, and tolerance in Egypt and Ghana: a comparative perspective on difference." In Islam and Popular Culture, ed. by Karin van Nieuwkerk. University of Texas Press, 2016.
  • Against ethnomusicology: Language performance and the social impact of ritual performance in Islam, Performing Islam, Volume 2, Number 1, December 2013 , pp. 11-43.
  • Майкл Фришкопф. 2013. “Этноджаз". Этноджаз в Центральной Азии: 17-21. ”Ethnojazz.” EthnoJazz in Central Asia: 49-52. In: EthnoJazz in Central Asia: Sociocultural design in the sphere of culture. Bishkek: Central Asian Arts Management, 2013
  • "Music as debate: Social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt." In Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety. Ed. Kamal Salhi. London: Routledge, 2013.
  • "Tradition and modernity: the globalization of Sufi Music in Egypt." In Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, edited by Walid El Hamamsy & Mounira Soliman. London: Routledge, 2012.
  • "Prediction of dissimilarity judgments between tonal sequences using information theory"[5], in Proceeding HCCE '12: Proceedings of the 2012 Joint International Conference on Human-Centered Computer Environments, Pages 194-199, ACM New York, NY, USA ©2012
  • “Ritual as strategic action: the social logic of musical silence in Canadian Islam”, in Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps, and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim World, edited by Karin van Nieuwkerk. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011
  • Review of The Rough Guide to Sufi Music, Asian Music, Volume 43, Number 1, Winter/Spring 2012, pp. 148-155
  • "Folkways in Wonderland: A Cyberworld Laboratory for Ethnomusicology"[6], (Rasika Ranaweera, Michael Frishkopf, and Michael Cohen), in Proceeding CW '11: Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Cyberworlds, Pages 106-112, IEEE Computer Society Washington, DC, USA ©2011
  • “Technology, Change and the Music of Sufi Chanting in Egypt.” Earle Waugh & Michael Frishkopf. Musica Humana 3(1), 2011
  • Music and Media in the Arab World[7], edited & with an Introduction by Michael Frishkopf. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, distributed by Oxford University Press (2010).
  • "(virtual [world) music]: Virtual world, world music: Folkways in Wonderland" in Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Principles and Applications of Spatial Hearing, Zao, Miyagi, Japan, November 2009. (co-authored: Rasika Ranaweera, Michael Cohen, Nick Nagel, and Michael Frishkopf).
  • "Mediated Qur’anic recitation and the contestation of Islam in contemporary Egypt", in Music and the Play of Power in the Middle East. Ashgate, 2009. Audio examples 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
  • "Globalizing the soundworld - Islam and Sufi Music in the West", in Sufis in the West (Routledge, 2008)
  • “Music”, in The Islamic World, edited by Andrew Rippin (Routledge "Worlds" series). New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 510-526.
  • "Nationalism, Nationalization, and the Egyptian Music Industry: Muhammad Fawzy,Misrphon, and Sawt al-Qahira (SonoCairo)" Asian Music, Volume 39, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2008, pp. 28-58.
  • “‘Islamic Music in Africa’ as a tool for African Studies”, in Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 42, #2/3, 2008, pp. 478-507.
  • “Metadata Infrastructure for Sound Recordings", Proceedings of ISMIR 2007 (International Conference on Music Information Retrieval, September 23rd-27th 2007, Vienna, Austria). Co-author.
  • Islamic Music, in New Encyclopedia of Africa, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2007, pp. 643-648.
  • Music of Makran: traditional fusion from coastal Balochistan, in Asian Music, Summer/Fall 2006
  • Sufi music review: (1) Soufis d'algerie: Mostaganem/Algeria: The Sufis of Mostaganem. 2003. Prophet Collection 31. Philips 472 503-2; (2) Chant soufi de Syrie: Dhikr Qadiri Khalwati de la Zawiya Hilaliya, Alep /Sufi chanting from Syria : Dhikr Qadiri Khalwati of the Zawiya Hilaliya, Aleppo . 2002. Maison des Cultures du Monde, Inedit W 260109. (3) Maroc: L'art du sama' a Fes/Morocco: The Art of Sama' in Fez . 2002. Disques VDE-GALLO, VDE CD-1104. (CD reviews). In Yearbook of the International Council for Traditional Music, 2003.
  • Review of “The Yemen Tihama: trance & dance music from the Red Sea coast of Arabia” International Music Collection of the British Library National Sound Archive. Topic World Series, Topic Records Ltd. TSCD920. (CD review). Asian Music, Fall/Winter 2003/2004, XXXV:1.
  • "Authorship in Sufi Poetry", in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, #23: Intersections: Literature and the Sacred (2003)
  • “Spiritual Kinship and Globalization”, in Religious Studies and Theology v. 22 #1, 2003
  • "Some Meanings of the Spanish Tinge in Contemporary Egyptian music", in Mediterranean Mosaic, edited by Goffredo Plastino (in the series entitled Perspectives on Global Pop, edited by Gage Averill; Routledge Publishing) (2002).
  • "Shaykh Yasin al-Tuhami: A typical layla performance", Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 6 (2002).
  • "al-Inshad al-Dini (Islamic religious singing) in Egypt", Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 6 (2002).
  • Review of Asmahan’s Secrets: Woman, War, and Song (No. 13 in the Middle East Monograph Series ( Austin: UT Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2000), by Sherifa Zuhur), International Journal of Middle East Studies (fall 2002). Arabic version in Weghat Nazar.
  • Musical transformations of time, in "Eighth International Conference on Human Interface Technology", March 14-20, 2002, Aizu University, Japan.
  • "Inshad Dini and Aghani Diniyya in 20th c Egypt : a review of styles, genres, and available recordings", Bulletin of the Middle East Studies Association, Winter 2001. (Arabic translation: Wijhat Nazar (Viewpoints), #35, vol. #3, December 2001, under the title: “al-inshad al-dini wa al-aghani al-diniyya fi masr al-qarn al-‘ishrin”, pp. 68-72. Cairo : Egyptian Company for Arab and International Publication.)[8]
  • "Changing modalities in the globalization of Islamic saint veneration and mysticism: Sidi Ibrahim al-Dasuqi, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Uthman al-Burhani, and their Sufi Orders". Religious Studies and Theology, v. 20 nos. 1 & 2(2001).
  • "Tarab in the Mystic Sufi Chant of Egypt", in: Colors of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East, edited by Sherifa Zuhur. American University in Cairo Press, 2001, pp. 233-269
  • The Magic of the Sufi Inshad: Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami (compact disc liner notes). Paris: Long Distance, Real World Works, 1998
  • La voix du poète : tarab et poésie dans le chant mystique soufi
  • with M. Garner, V. Haimo, I. Loobeek, D.Davis, Type-of-service routing: Modeling and simulation. Technical Report 6364, BBN Communications Corporation, January 1987.
  • with S. Cohn, S. Eiser, J. Robinson, and J. Wiggins, Congestion Control Study Final Report, July 1985.


MUSIC 148 - Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble I

The study of Middle Eastern and North African vocal and instrumental music (primarily Arab, Persian, and Turkish musical traditions) through group instruction and ensemble performance, and related readings, films, and discussions. The ability to read music is not required. Some traditional instruments will be available. Course may be repeated where topics vary. Prerequisite: consent of Department based on assessment in the first class.

MUSIC 448 - Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble

The study of Middle Eastern and North African vocal and instrumental music (primarily Arab, Persian, and Turkish musical traditions) through group instruction and ensemble performance, and related readings, films, and discussions. The ability to read music is not required. Some traditional instruments will be available. Course may be repeated where topics vary. Prerequisite: MUSIC 148 or consent of Department based on assessment in the first class.

MUSIC 466 - Topics in Ethnomusicology

Prerequisite: consent of Department.

MUSIC 548 - Middle Eastern and North African Music Ensemble V

The study of Middle Eastern and North African vocal and instrumental music (primarily Arab, Persian, and Turkish musical traditions) through group instruction and ensemble performance, and related readings, films, and discussions. The ability to read music is not required. Some traditional instruments will be available. Course may be repeated where topics vary. Prerequisite: consent of Department

MUSIC 566 - Topics in Ethnomusicology

Prerequisite: MUSIC 365 or consent of Department.

Browse more courses taught by Michael Frishkopf

Scholarly Activities

Research - Aswan Music Project

Aswan Music Project

Research - Autonomous Adaptive Soundscapes

Started: 2020-04-01

Autonomously Adaptive Soundscapes for Reducing Stress in Critically-Ill Patients

an intelligent bioalgorithmic system generating personalized therapeutic soundscapes, designed especially for critically ill patients in the ICU, using machine learning and autonomic biofeedback, at the intersection of Critical Care, Machine Learning, and Sound Studies/Ethnomusicology

Autonomous Adaptive Soundscapes

Research - Deep Learning for Sound Recognition


Research - Music for Global Human Development

Music for Global Human Development

Research - Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam

Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam


Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam

Author(s): Michael Frishkopf and Federico Spinetti, editors
Publication Date: 2018

Music and Media in the Arab World

Author(s): Michael Frishkopf
Publication Date: 2010
Publication: Cairo