Sound, Music and Religion: A Preliminary Cartography of a Transdisciplinary Research Field

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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  • 1 University of Heidelberg, Institut für Religionswissenschaft, Akademiestr. 4-8, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany

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Sound and music play a vital role in many religious and spiritual practices around the world. However, they have not been studied considerably in the field of religion or in related disciplines thus far. This article begins to bridge this gap by drawing a preliminary cartography of the research field and proposing a transdisciplinary methodological basis for further studies. It includes a survey of the state of research and firmly locates the field within the secular study of religion rather than within phenomenological, theological or religious approaches. The key concepts “sound,” “music” and “religion” are introduced; and the manner in which common perceptions of these concepts have prevented us from noting some of the most interesting phenomena, especially in contemporary religiosity, is discussed. Finally, a spectrum of potential research perspectives that could be covered by future studies is proposed.

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