Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Steven Black

Second Advisor

Emanuela Guano

Third Advisor

Jennifer Patico


Music-based healing is utilized as a healing tool in many cultural contexts around the world. This thesis examines the cultural practice of music therapy in the context of the larger discipline of medicine in the United States through an ethnographic study of music therapists in the Greater Atlanta area. It contextualizes this data with research in medical ethnomusicology that explores cross-cultural traditions of music in healing rituals. It also connects music therapy to the observation that forces of globalization are strongly correlated with an increase in rates of inequality, poverty, stress, and disease. This thesis discusses how Atlanta-area music therapists use music healing with patients suffering from physical and mental disease and how economic stratification impacts access to music therapy. It is concerned with deeper and not immediately evident processes taking place in music therapy, such as the role of music as a medium and facilitator in healing.