Dr Brian Diettrich


Teaching in 2018

Research interests

Ethnomusicology, Pacific Island and Indigenous musics/performance, music ethnography, colonialism, sound studies, musical instruments, sound recordings and archives, music sustainability and heritage, ecomusicology, Pacific cultural ecology.


BA - Baldwin Wallace University

MA and PhD - University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa


  • Senior Lecturer, Music Studies - Ethnomusicology


Brian Diettrich is Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Victoria. He teaches courses in critical approaches to ethnomusicology and ethnographic research, as well as studies of regional music cultures (especially Oceania). Brian supervises postgraduate research projects in ethnomusicology, ethnography, the Pacific and indigenous musics, and in related areas.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian received the PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, with doctoral research supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Brian specialises in music of Oceania, and since 2000 he has undertaken projects in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), in Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, with communities of the central Caroline atolls, and in Palau, the Marshall Islands, and among Micronesian migrant communities in Hawai‘i. Since 2015 Brian has served as Chair of the ICTM Study Group on Music and Dance of Oceania, and in 2016 he organized the Study Group Sympoisum “Performing the Past, Sustaining the Future”on the island of Guam. Brian has undertaken various educational and community music projects in the Pacific, and he formerly taught tertiary-level music in the FSM, at the College of Micronesia. Brian has been a Visiting Scholar in Ethnomusicology at National Taiwan Normal University and Nara University of Education in Japan. His current projects include a book manuscript about the history of performance and empire in the Caroline Islands, and projects with the Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l'Océanie and Oxford University Press.

Postgraduate supervision

(primary and co-supervisor)

Current projects

Ngā Waiata Tuku Iho: The Legacy Of Tribal Song Traditions 

Classical Polynesia: Samoan Opera 

Samoan Identity Through Composition: The Agony of Asking

Ngāti Ruakā and Indigenous Methodologies

“Toying with the “Other”: Analysing Gender Subversion in Indo-Fijian Performance

Past projects

Irish Music in Wellington: A Study of a Local Music Community

The Clarinet as Extension of the Voice and Expressive Conduit of Musical Styles in Diverse Ensembles

Na Suklit: Benny Sokkong and the Bamboo Musical Instruments of the Kalinga

The Forgotten Soundtrack of Maoriland: Imagining the Nation Through Alfred Hill’s Songs for Rewi's Last Stand

The Acquisition Process of Recognition: Musical Performance in New Zealand

Menginpehn Lien Pohnpei: A Poetic Ethnography of Urohs

Māori Performing Arts and the Weaving of Local, National and International Communities

Outside In: Wellington Jazz Among the Discourses

Voices in the Reo: Music, Community and Membership in a Rātana Brass Band



Diettrich, Brian, Jane Freeman Moulin, Michael Webb. 2011. Music in Pacific Island Cultures: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Book and CD. New York: Oxford University Press.    

Book Chapters

Diettrich, Brian. 2018 [in press]. “Returning Voices: Repatriation as Shared Listening Experiences.” In The Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, edited by Frank Gunderson and Bret Woods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Diettrich, Brian. 2018 [in press]. “Ephemerality and Permanence: Situating Performance as Intangible Cultural Heritage.” In Cultural Heritage Care and Management in Theory and Practice, edited byCecilia L. Salvatore.  Rowman and Littlefield.  

Diettrich, Brian. 2017. “Chanting Diplomacy: Music, Conflict, and Social Cohesion in Micronesia.” In A Distinctive Voice in the Antipodes: Essays in Honour of Stephen A. Wild, edited by Kirsty Gillespie, Sally Treloyn, and Don Niles, pp. xv-xvi, 195-218. Canberra: Australian National University.

Diettrich, Brian. 2016. “Cultural Disjunctures and Intersections: Indigenous Musics and School-Based Education in Micronesia.” InIntersecting Cultures in Music and Dance Education: An Oceanic Perspective, edited byLinda Ashley and David Lines, pp. 33-48. Springer.

Diettrich, Brian. 2009. “Musik und die Inselumwelt in Mikronesien (Music and the Island World of Micronesia).” In Südsee Oasen: Leben und Überleben im Westpazifik, edited and translated by Ingrid Hermann, pp.135-37. Exhibition book for Power and Aesthetics: Traditional Life in Micronesia.  Linden-Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.   

Diettrich, Brian. 2007. “Listening Encounters: Sound Recordings and Cultural Meaning from Chuuk State, Micronesia”.  In Oceanic Music Encounters: Essays in Honour of Mervyn McLean,

ed. by Richard Moyle, pp. 47-58.  University of Auckland, Department of Anthropology.

Journal Articles

Diettrich, Brian. 2018 [in press]. “Tracking Flutes on Nineteenth-Century Pohnpei: Queries about Instruments and their Movements in the Colonial Pacific.” The Galpin Society Journal LXXI.  

Diettrich, Brian. 2018 [in press]. “Summoning Breadfruit” and “Opening Seas”: Towards a Performative Ecology in Oceania. Ethnomusicology 62(1).      

Diettrich, Brian. 2017 [in press]. “Instruments in Motion: Flutes, Harmonicas, And the Interplay of Sound and Silence in Colonial Micronesia.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 126(3).    

Diettrich, Brian. 2016. "Virtual Micronesia: Performance and Participatory Culture in a Pacific Facebook Community." Perfect Beat 17(1):52-70.

Diettrich, Brian. 2015. “Performing Arts as Cultural Heritage in the Federated States of Micronesia.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 21(7):660-673.

Diettrich, Brian. 2011. Voices from “Under-the-Garland”: Singing, Christianity, and Cultural Transformations in Chuuk, Micronesia. Yearbook for Traditional Music 43:62-88.

Diettrich, Brian. 2011. ‘Keeper-of-the-Drum’: Silent Objects and Musical Pasts of Pohnpei, Micronesia. The Galpin Society Journal LXIV:219-242 (196-97, color plates).

Diettrich, Brian. 2007. Across All Micronesia and Beyond: Innovation and Connections in Chuukese

Popular Music and Contemporary Recordings. The World of Music 49(1):65-81.    

Reference Works

Diettrich, Brian. 2017. “Mikronesien”. In Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. edited by Ilka Sührig, Germany:Bärenreiter and Metzler.

Diettrich, Brian. 2017. “Micronesia: Music in History Culture Geography; Micronesia: Contemporary Performance Practice.” The Sage Encyclopedia of Ethnomusicology, edited by Janet L. Sturman. Sage Publishing.     

Diettrich, Brian. 2014. Entries on Micronesian instruments: Eleven new entries [Aangun, Aip, Didipwoapw, Filipwow, Keseng en tumwe, Keseng lepin rahu, Lepin tuhke, Peitehl, Tumtum ra lild, Upwut, and Wokun Kurukur] and Nine revised entries. In New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. 2nd Edition.  New York: Oxford University Press.


Diettrich, Brian. 2017. Review of “Kīkā Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music.” Journal of Pacific History 52(1):125-127.

Diettrich, Brian. 2017. Review of “The Pacific Festivals of Aotearoa New Zealand: Negotiating Place and Identity in a New Homeland,” by Jared Mackley-Crumb. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 18(1):97-99.

Diettrich, Brian. 2016. Review of three CDs: “Chelitakl: Early Reel-to-Reel Recordings from Palau”, “Sound Memories of Past Palau”; and “15 Favorite Japanese-influenced Palauan Songs/Derrebechesiil”. Yearbook for Traditional Music 48:232-233.

Diettrich, Brian. 2015. Review of “Hawaiian Music in Motion: Mariners, Missionaries, and Minstrels,” by James Carr. Journal of Pacific History 50(2):246-47.  

Diettrich, Brian. 2013. Review of “Austronesian Soundscapes: Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia,” edited by Birgit Abels. Yearbook for Traditional Music 45:265-267.

Diettrich, Brian. 2008. Review of “Marshall Islands Musical Transitions: Marshallese String Band Music Today and Yesterday” (CD). The World of Music 50(2):143-44.

Diettrich, Brian. 2008. Review of “Guitar Style, Open Tunings, and Stringband Music in Papua New Guinea” by Denis Crowdy.  The Contemporary Pacific 20(2):518-20.    

Diettrich, Brian. 2008. Review of “The Nose Flute Breathes Again,” with Calvin Rore (CD), from the Oceania Center for Arts and Culture, University of the South Pacific.  The Contemporary Pacific 20(1):265-66.

Diettrich, Brian. 2005. Review of “The Theory and Practice of the Music in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea” by Jennifer J. Jones.  Yearbook for Traditional Music 37:169-70.


Teaching in 2018