Authors and burners: imagining creative agency in Turkey’s musical folklore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The idea of anonymity is central to how folk music is defined in Turkey. A widely circulating theory posits that folk songs are not simply anonymous because their authors are forgotten, but because folkloric creativity differs from the process of artistic creativity in other genres. This article draws on the concept of semiotic ideology to analyse the assumptions that mediate how subscribers to the anonymity theory hear folk music. The anonymity theory resonates with recent scholarly accounts of collaborative or distributed creativity, though the network of agency it maps is distinct. Other scholars have described a semiotic ideology associated with romanticism whereby the materiality of semiotic forms is constitutive or reflective of the interiority of an individual creator’s self. The anonymity theory, meanwhile, takes the materiality of semiotic forms to reflect a collective self’s interiority, and it locates creative agency beyond the individuals most involved in folk songs’ production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEthnomusicology Forum
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • authorship
  • creativity
  • folk music
  • folklore
  • modernity
  • semiotics
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Music


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