On the Limitations of Music Ecology


  • Dr. Brent Keogh Macquarie University


Ecology, Sustainability, Diversity, Ethnomusicology


The term ‘ecology’, originally coined by German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1869, has been used since the 1950s as a trope in various ways for understanding aspects of human culture. The ecology trope has been applied to a wide range of disciplines within the social sciences and even within music studies. Terms such as ‘acoustic ecology’, ‘music ecology’, and ‘echo-muse-ecology’ have been used to describe and legitimise a broad range of practices and relationships between music cultures and their environments. More recently, the ecology trope has been utilised to garner support for defending sustainability arguments with regard to diverse music cultures perceived to be under threat by hegemonic practices of global interests as they expand economically. This paper explores the development of the ecology trope, the ways in which it has been utilised in contemporary discourse on music sustainability, and the limitations of applying naturalistic tropes in support of the conservation of human cultural forms.

Author Biography

Dr. Brent Keogh, Macquarie University

In 2008 Keogh completed his honours thesis in the application of the right hand techniques of North Indian lutes and their application to contemporary guitar playing, and received a First-Class Honours for this thesis. Keogh has lectured in the subjects PSY250 and Mus 851 (Masters of Improvisation) and at the Australian Institute of Music on the topic of Improvisation in Arabic music. In 2009, Keogh began studying the oud and Egyptian maqam system with Sydney based oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros, and have since performed with percussionist Tony Lewis, violinist Anna McDonald and multi-instrumentalist Samir Maarbani. At age 26, Keogh is currently in the final year of the thesis studying the political economy of World Music in Australia. Keogh has presented research papers at the MSA Symposium held at UWS, the 2010 IASPM Conference held at Monash University, 2011 IASPM at Victoria University in Wellington, and the In and Out of Place Postgraduate Conference held at UTS.




How to Cite

Keogh, B. . (2022). On the Limitations of Music Ecology. Journal of Music Research Online, 4. Retrieved from https://www.jmro.org.au/index.php/main/article/view/13